We were finally ready to welcome another dog into our lives, and we all had our list of what we wanted, or in my case, what I didn’t want. Of course we wanted a dog that would be as close as possible to our wish list, after all, that was the whole point of the list, wasn’t it? But we knew we had to be a little bit flexible, or we may never find our new family member.
The SOSD team was very patient and supportive, and after we saw a few dogs, it was Hero, a dog that had been in the shelter for almost three years, and with some aggression history (one of my top “NO’s”) that stole our hearts. The rehoming team and the handlers were very open about his “to be worked on” behaviors, but they also talked about his positive side in such a loving way, that we decided to give him a chance!
After several interactions, he finally came for the home stay, and I took the whole week off. We thought we knew what to expect, and thinking that we were ready to handle some of the mentioned behaviors, we had high hopes that the rehoming would be very smooth…
But how could we be hoping for that? Just watching his reaction to every single thing in the house (smells, closets, kitchen, lizards, snails, etc), made us realize that he was not only in a new environment, but in a whole new world! He was scared and curious about everything… Every single noise would startle him… He refused to walk past the corners of the street… He had energy bursts that would end in crash jumping on us… The aggressive growling… Some were old behaviors that we had been warned about, some were new… He was overwhelmed and there was only so much he could handle!
In a way, it made me think about my first trip to Tokyo… A culture full of customs completely different than mine, a language that I couldn’t understand, street signs that wouldn’t give me a clue about where I was (even when I knew where I wanted to go)! I was exploring the city by myself, and luckily, I was able to find a few people, some of which didn’t speak any English, that had the patience and made the effort to understand what I wanted or needed, and explain what I could and could not do and guide me through the city… We had to do the same for Hero!
As per SOSD Suggestion, we kept a journal, which was invaluable! It helped us understand the patterns in his behaviors, and what he was trying to tell us! We then directed our energy in teaching him only the most basic rules of the house (and that the cats were off limits) and in making sure he knew that we were his new forever family. To our surprise, once he started getting used to the house and his boundaries, not only he settled in quickly, but most of the unwanted behaviors went away without us even having to do anything about it!
It was a little challenging at times, but very rewarding as well. We are very thankful to the rehoming team and the handlers, that continuously worked with him, believing that one day he would find a family, and supporting us in each step of the way! Hero has become the perfect addition to our family!