It all happened so fast; fast enough to make your head spin. Sometime during the night in mid June 2009, one of God’s special creatures was scooped up and taken for what must have seemed like a long and lonely ride to an unfamiliar place, a drop box at a local animal shelter. He came with a short note stating that his name was Corey (name has been changed to protect the innocent) and the reason for this sudden eviction from his home – “not good with new baby”. The fear and confusion had to be unbearable as the darkness turned to light. What had gone so terribly wrong to bring about such dire straits?
That day was the beginning of a long journey engulfed with sadness and despair. It all started when I was removed from that cold, damp drop box and placed in a cage with a concrete floor and barking dogs all around sharing their own sad story. At first I didn’t realize that this strange place would be the start of a new life filled with love, compassion and hope through the dedicated volunteers of Coastal Poodle Rescue.
Several days passed when all of a sudden my cage opened, a leash was looped around my neck and I was led out into a big room where two people were waiting to greet me. I walked as fast as the restraint on my neck allowed to the spot where they were standing; excited at the prospect of finally going back home, but soon realizing that these two people were not my family at all. Who were these people that walked me to their car and drove me to another strange place? I was scared, really scared. My whole life was turned upside down and I didn’t have the coping skills necessary to deal with this major change in my life.
I spent the next few weeks protecting myself from these strangers. When they got too close to me, I did the only thing I knew how to keep them away; I growled and I growled so fiercely that they kept a safe distance from me, but that didn’t deter them from saying kind words to me each time they walked by. Slowly as the days passed, I began to trust these two people and allowed them to pet me. I must admit I was extremely timid, but the love they had to give was overwhelming. I began to follow them around the house and would even sit near them at the end of the couch. It was not easy for me or them. They worked at it every day showing nothing but kindness and love. I was beginning to adjust to this new life, but I still had my moments. Every day, several times a day, I would urinate in the house out of fear. I was given a belly band to wear to catch the urine before it reached the walls or the furniture and that little piece of material became just another part of my body. Through it all, my new family and I were able to co-exist and they grew to accept me for who I was, but continued to long for who I could be.
Wanting more for me, they made an appointment to see Dr. Radosta, a well-known animal behaviorist. Our first visit was intimidating to say the least. She spoke to my foster parents, took notes and observed my body language. When it was all said and done, I walked out of there with a diagnosis of “fear aggression” and a prescription for Prozac. She also gave specific instructions and began to provide the tools necessary for my foster parents to help move me to the next level. My foster parents continued to work with me and even signed me up for beginning obedience class. My task was to become more socialized with humans (dogs and cats have always been my friends; it is humans that I am leery of). I took to obedience class like a fish to water. I even ventured into some agility training and loved weaving through chairs and walking through tunnels. I liked obedience training so well, that my foster parents signed my up for the intermediate class shortly after graduation.
My last visit with Dr. Radosta was FOLLOW ONE DOG THROUGHawesome! She was amazed at how confident and outgoing I had become. In her words, I was finally ready for a new forever home. The fact that I no longer needed a belly band was the cat’s meow! I understand there is no cure for fear aggression, only remission, and guess what; Dr. Radosta told my foster parents that in her opinion, I was in remission. What a proud moment for all of us. As a matter of fact, I am doing so well that she has decided to wean me off of Prozac.