Friday, October 23, 2009

Dogs have issues too...

Some dogs have normal issues. Lizzy's issue is fear of strangers - normal for a dog who wasn't socialized at a young age. My previous foster dog Murphy has a fear of the outdoors, and loud noises - still not uncommon. Dogs like Lizzy and Murphy seem to see the world as Dangerous Until Proven Otherwise. Other dogs, like my Noelle, see the world as their playground - they have no fear, and every new thing is an adventure.

Recently I met a dog with very interesting issues. He does not seem to have the normal fears of a dog picked up as a stray. He isn't afraid of people. He isn't afraid of the outdoors, or loud noises, or other dogs. This is what he is afraid of:

 This dog, named Bobby Hill (to go with the foster family's theme of a popular TV show family), is the sweetest little beagle. He was picked up as a stray and taken to a shelter. When he was brought from the shelter to an adoption event, we all remarked on how sweet he was - and how skinny. Here's Bobby Hill at the adoption event.

So of course, being the typical soft-hearted rescue people that we are, we started trying to give him treats, to help fatten him up. If there's one thing that we tend to use a lot of at adoption events, it's treats! So bring on the donations - we'll use 'em. :-) Bobby Hill ate one small piece of soft chicken treat, and ignored the dog biscuits we offered. Then he ignored the rest of the chicken treats we offered. Well no wonder he is so skinny, if he won't even eat the yummy treats, I thought. A couple of times he walked up to the water bowl, sniffed it, then walked away. Very strange. But then Kenny, one of the rescue group volunteers, realized he seemed afraid of the water bowl. He poured some water on the ground, and Bobby Hill lapped it up. So we tried giving him water from a water bottle, and he lapped that up too. After drinking an entire water bottle full of water, Bobby Hill felt much better, and even started eating treats again. He had been so dehydrated that he wasn't able to swallow the treats before that! No wonder he was so skinny - the poor guy probably had not had anything to eat or drink since being taken to the shelter. He was so afraid of the water bowl that he was literally dying of thirst with the water right in front of him all the time. He must have been living on his own for awhile, scrounging food where he could get it and drinking from puddles. I have no idea what could have caused him to identify bowls as a scary object - but fortunately Kenny figured out the problem, and then proceeded to take him home as a foster dog where he could get him fattened up, and teach him that bowls really aren't so scary after all!

It takes a lot of patience to help a dog with issues. Bobby Hill has progressed from eating dog food off of a piece of newspaper on the ground, to eating out of his foster sibling's food bowl. He's also gone from drinking out of a cupped hand, to drinking from a small clear saucer, to drinking from a larger water bowl (but only when outside). Helping a dog to overcome their fears can sometimes be a long, drawn-out process, but it's so worth it in the end to see them gain freedom as they overcome their fear. Bobby Hill is now ready for adoption, and as you can see from these pictures taken just a few short weeks after the ones above, he's already gained weight and looks much better. Thanks to his foster parents Kenny and Holly who continue to work with him and help him overcome his fear of those scary things we like to call bowls.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was a great story, Laurie!