Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Rough Beginnings" and a Little Patience and Understanding

(Picture Left: Jewels -- After a rough beginning, happy at last?)

A couple of positive developments over the past few days -- though both had rough beginnings.

Foxy, our frisky and loving Pomeranian was in fact adopted by Ilene and her husband the other night.

But, it was an adoption that almost self-sabotaged within the first few minutes of Ilene meeting Foxy for the first time. (Her husband was not able to come due to working late.)

Foxy curiously approached the woman to sniff her out. As Ilene does with her other dog at home, she enthusiastically petted Foxy paying special attention to Foxy's hindquarters (generally a mistake with a dog just attempting to know you.) Confused or simply not appreciating the vigorous rubs near the intimate area of his tail, Foxy suddenly snapped at Ilene.

It seemed like the potential adoption would end right there.

Though momentarily shaken, Ilene to her credit, was not deterred.

When arriving to Firorozeh's (the foster person) home to do the adoption and told of the incident, I informed Ilene that there are three sensitive areas in a dog that one needs to be especially respectful of when first meeting the animal: Paws, stomach and tail area.

Ilene was surprised to learn this and explained that her dog at home loves being petted and rubbed near the hindquarters.

"Yes!" I answered. "Most dogs love it. But, that tends to be after you have established a relationship with them. For a dog who doesn't know you, the action can seem threatening and invasive."

"Really?" Ilene questioned. "I thought I was doing the right thing by giving pleasure to the dog."

"Well, it's like a hug." I explained. "A hug is a nice thing. Most people and pets love to get hugs. But, its also a somewhat intimate action. If a stranger on the street comes up and suddenly hugs you, you are more likely to slap the person than reciprocate Hugging dogs (or cats) when you first meet them or handling them in the more sensitive areas of paws, tail or stomach is likewise more likely to result in defensive or negative reaction than pleasurable response. It is simply too intimate and presumptive, too soon."

"You know, it makes sense when you stop and think about it," Ilene said appreciatively.

From that point forward, the adoption moved smoothly.

Foxy warmed up to Ilene and she was delighted with him.

Fiorozeh gave a number of toys to Ilene that she had generously purchased for Foxy and that the little dog loves. Following the signing of adoption papers, we accompanied Ilene to her car with Foxy. Foxy cheerfully jumped in the car and settled down happily next to his new adopter. It was if the bright and sensitive little dog understood fully what had just occurred and he was very pleased to be going with his new person to his new home.

For her part, Fiorozeh was a bit emotional when seeing Foxy leave and fought back tears.

I knew exactly how Fiorozeh felt, having gone though the exact same thing in the past with so many dogs I fostered over the years.

"I remember especially when Baby, my foster Bichon was adopted last year," I said to Fiorozeh. "He pawed at the car window of his adopters as if begging me to 'rescue' him again. It was horrible! I almost screamed out at the couple to stop so I could take Baby back! But, you know the adoption worked out beautifully. Just this past Christmas Baby's adopters sent a lovely card, note, pictures and a donation. They love Baby. But, it was so hard to let him go at the time!"

"I grew to love Foxy over these past few weeks," Fiorozeh said wistfully. "If I didn't already have Cubby who sadly was so stressed by Foxy, I would have kept him."

"I know." I said. "But, its better this way. Your first obligation is to the dog you already have. Foxy finally found his forever home and I am very confident he will be happy and this adoption will work."

"I know what you're saying, Patty and I agree that this woman is wonderful for Foxy. It's just so hard......"

Fiorozeh had to turn away as the car drove off. She could not look at Foxy go.

She did not see that Foxy gave one appreciative look towards her out the window as if to say, "thank you!."

But then he quickly settled on Ilene's lap and didn't look back again.

The other positive development over the past few days is that Jewels, our little Shepherd mix adopted out more than a week ago seems finally to be adapting to her new people and new home.

She was scheduled to be returned today due to housebreaking issues.

But, Helen, the girlfriend of Jewel's adopter called last night to say matters had much improved over the past few days and that the couple really love and want to keep her.

Nothing could describe my relief when receiving this call. I did not look forward to having the put the timid and very sensitive older Shepherd mix into boarding as Carrie (Jewel's former foster person) has since taken in two new rescue dogs.

I anticipated Jewels having to be in boarding a long time as due to her age and timidity, she was not an easy adoption.

I had spent a good deal of time trying to explain to Jewel's adopter that it is not unusual for dogs (especially timid and sensitive dogs like Jewels) to have housebreaking issues when first going into a new environment with new people. While it is understandably upsetting to have a dog messing up one's expensive carpeting, one cannot show one's frustration with the dog. It only exacerbates the situation by creating even more anxiety in the dog.

"This world would be a far better and happier place if only people could learn PATIENCE!" I said (actually out of personal frustration) the other night to Ray, Jewel's adopter.

Helen told me last night that Ray had actually been very "upset and depressed" even to make the call to me the other night. He loved Jewels and hated the idea of returning her. But, between Jewels failing to get the housebreaking down and Helen's two cats hiding under the bed from Jewels the first week, it seemed for that brief time that things weren't working out. (The cats are calmly walking by Jewels now and she is peaceful towards them.)

As I have always said: "If they can just get by those first few hard days or weeks of adjustment, it almost always works out in the end."

Its the "getting by" those first few days that is so often the killer to successful adoptions.

So yes, I am very pleased and relieved about both developments -- especially, the adopters keeping Jewels.

But, perhaps the nicest "closure" of all, have been the follow-up calls from Ilene about Foxy.

He has settled in quickly and wonderfully into his new home. The two dogs are getting along well, Foxy is eating, playing and following his new people around.

And yes, Ilene can now give Foxy "rump rubs."

All he needed was a little time to trust and feel comfortable.

As Jewels needed a little time to feel secure.

As all people and animals need time to adjust to new and challenging situations.

Yes, a little patience (and understanding!) goes a long, long way! -- PCA


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