The Inner Sheltie
A lot of people adopt an animal from a rescue or shelter (especially the shelter) and decide the first night that the dog or cat is not a ‘match’ for their family. What they do not take in consideration is the situation the animal came from; both in the shelter or before.
To truly know how an animal will be and if it ‘fits’ or not, takes time. Cats especially are not fond of changes and moves and may take a little longer to adjust. A dog will need to learn its place in the new ‘pack’ before you can tell how it will be. And in a pack the status of each individual is earned!
When asked for advice my answer is always the same: It takes time and effort! The same effort you give to any other family member!
I give my dogs plenty of exercise when they ‘move in’. And before introducing them to the ‘pack’, I have them check out the yard by themselves and give them an idea of what they run into.
My dogs are comfortable with ‘new guys’. But if your dog is not, you may want to take ‘new’ and ‘old’ on a walk together. It will give them the opportunity to work out tension and get familiar with each other. And you get to work out any issues outside of your home.
Your home is your ‘old’ dog’s territory. And depending on their training and socialization, they will see a ‘new’ dog as a possible intruder. It is important to allow them to meet on neutral grounds before the ‘invasion’.
Another good tool is the dog park or your dog owning friends. Get your dog used to other dogs and teach it how to properly meet and greet. Starting this early with a puppy or young dog will allow your dog to learn the skills necessary to function in a pack that includes other K9s.
Cats are not much different. They have to learn their place and get to know the new surroundings. Some cats, traumatized from losing their home and being thrown in the unfriendly environment of a (kill) shelter, tend to hide or be a little shy for days or even weeks. I found that attention without pressure works well when combined with the patience of a saint.
My favorite tool with shy dogs or cats is a good book and a pack of hotdogs. The hotdogs work like bait and the book will entertain you while you are waiting for the first signs that you earned trust. And if you lay on the floor and don’t tower over them, you are less likely to intimidate them. Other animals that are social can help the cause by showing the newcomer that the stranger is not to be feared.
One thing I do, tough, from begin on: While I don’t expect much of them, I introduce the rules and status of everybody; without pressure! Life in a kill shelter environment is stressful; even on the happiest dog.
They can feel it! They can smell it! …And a lot of shelters are not exactly the friendliest environment! No! Don’t blame the shelter staff! They were hired to ‘clean up’ the ‘mess’ irresponsible people leave! I blame the lack of affordable and available spay/neuter programs and irresponsible people for the problem!
Getting a new animal is exciting. With the right expectations and ‘tools’, and a little patience, you can make this a great situation and a lifetime gift. Your new family member may not jump on you and scream: "Thanks for saving my life!", but you will see the appreciation!
Dogs and Cats are more grateful than any human being I ever met! They respect you "for better or worse" and "until death do us apart"! This new family member is a gift, but it is also a responsibility!
So why did I call it the "Inner Sheltie"?
Sally looked miserable, scarred and defeated on the shelter picture. She was overweight, diagnosed with Cushings, hairless… The sweetest girl on Earth, nobody wanted her! Not even with sponsorship!
Sally required regular baths with oatmeal and other shampoos. She spend months on Cushex, a natural Cushings medication that costs $30 for a little bottle of maybe 4-6 oz. In addition she received Omega 3/Fishoil pills and her flea treatment is an ongoing nightmare, since her skin doesn’t react like that of a healthy dog.
The first day I washed off the sticky and itchy medical bath somebody had punished her with in a meant-well effort to ‘treat’ her. After an hour and some freely offered and finally taken attention… She was a different dog!
Sally is now a good weight, HAS HAIR!!!!!!!!, her skin is black and soft and smooth – not white and flacky! She is the most loving pup on Earth, faithful to the bone, gets along with most… and finally found her "Inner Sheltie".
Sally is a funny mix between a Welsh Corgi and a Sheltie! She has the Corgi body and the Sheltie fluff and face. And finally, like any Sheltie, she found her voice to show her happiness! ….Boy does she have a lot to say!
But for me this new, unscheduled, unsuppressed, loud and sometimes annoying voice is a sign that life is finally good for her!
If I would have gone by first impression… So many walked pass this perfect pup! Because they only saw the superficial outside!
Nobody saw how well behaved and sweet she is!
If I would have gone by first impression… Sally would have been dead!
My advice to you: Look deeper! Give them time to heal! Love them for who they are; and like they will love you! Be patient! Be happy for what you have, not what you don’t!
Even Marley was loved! And she gave Dennis the Menace a run for his money! She became famous for being who she is!
Every dog or cat or other has the potential to be a star! Even if it is only a star in your own personal sky!