Sometimes beginning the process of re-training a rescue dog can seem more work than one thinks possible, but the effort put in returns an incredible relationship bond between human and dog.
Yesterday I talked about why I want to highlight rescue dogs and their owners as well as rescue workers this week (if you missed it catch it here) and today I have two different stories to share.
Tammy rescued Winston shortly after she lost one of her first two Cavaliers to IMHA or Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. IMHA is not uncommon in Cavaliers, according to Pet Health Network, “With primary IMHA, your dog’s immune system mistakenly produces antibodies that attack its own red blood cells. This is the most common cause of anemia in dogs. With secondary IMHA, the surface of your dog’s red blood cells is modified by an underlying disease process, drug, or toxin.”
IMHA can be fatal and have a fast onset. As Tammy said, “My girl Queenie with IMHA was diagnosed on a Saturday and had 3 blood transfusions when none of these helped her, we decided not to put her through anymore. She was 1 week shy of her 7th birthday. So she lived with it for only about a week to 10 days.”
But, as often seems to happen, while Queenie left a hole, another dog needed a home. Tammy said, “I saw where they saved five Cavs from a hoarding situation. So we decided we wanted to rescue one. He was seven and needed a lot of training, never walked up stairs, had people food, played in a yard, or received any pats or attention. He lived his seven years in a cage.”
“We brought Winston to an 8-week training class because he would bark at everyone and try to nip them. He now lets people pat him if we are outside walking. He still barks at people when they come to the house, so we have to put a leash on him and usually keep it on the whole time we have company. There are a few select people he likes to come over, people who have other Cav’s.”
Many people are grateful for their other Cavaliers showing rescues the way, and Tammy’s K.C. did this for Winston quite a bit. At first, Winston was a little skittish around K.C. but he has come to love other dogs.
Winston still doesn’t fit the mold of the “typical” Cavalier,
“He never allows us to touch him much, but now he enjoys being patted and he will sit on my husband for about 5-10 minutes then he gets off.
He won’t really allow us to hug him or kiss him too much but we do it as much as we can. He does now know commands like sit, stay, down, sometimes come. So he is still a work in progress but he is getting there, we want to give him so much love but he tenses up. He never had pats for seven years of his life so this is still new to him.”
But he shows his love in other ways, “The best thing about my Winston is that he is very loyal to us and I know he is thankful to be in our home. He still has problems with strangers and trusting some people and it has been two years in our home, but he is realizing more and more that no one will ever hurt him again.”
Watching our rescue dogs realize that they are safe, home, forever, that has to be one of the best gifts they could give any one in return.
There’s a second story I want to tell today, and that’s about Nellie who was rescued by Judith.
Judith had just lost her first Cavalier, Charlie to Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) at nine and a half years old. He developed a heart murmur at six and was stable until age nine when his condition worsened during his last six months.
Judith said, “My first reaction was, no, I can’t, I’m just too heartbroken.
She said, I understand, but would you just go meet her?
And that’s how I got my Nellie. She was hyper, seriously anxious, and barked non-stop for the first 48 hours I had her home, and I wondered, how did I get into this? Nellie was a rescue from a puppy mill, who had been re-homed and then given up to the rescue.
She was two years old, and her foster mom told me she had been hand-shy, overweight and didn’t know how to play when she entered rescue. Nellie and I spent the first year together working on her barking, her anxiety, and her fear of other dogs.
It’s been 4 years now, and she is super-cuddly and loving, greets all humans with joy, and loves to play tug, flyball, and go on long walks. (She’s still not crazy about other dogs but even this has improved. She’ll grumble but tolerate their existence.)”
All Judith knows about Nellie’s first home after the puppy mill is that, “Nellie was adopted by an older couple, after her first rescue. I was told that they gave her up to Quebec Rescue because they were unable to care for her anymore. I also suspect that they didn’t expect or know how to handle the behavior issues that can come from being rescued originally out of a bad situation.”
But whatever bad situation Nellie was in before, she’s a safe and happy girl now.
While neither Judith nor Tammy may have been planning on finding rescues to adopt, these two dogs landed in their laps at just the right time.