February 2014. Our next foster, Bailey, was rescued from a hoarder situation. She was a seven year old 90+ pound Rottweiler mix that was very fearful and worried at the shelter.
I spent a few days trying to get her used to me before bringing her home. She wouldn't come to the front of the kennel so I ended up walking one of the other hoarder dogs, Miss Lizzie, who was more affectionate, and sat her in front of Bailey's cage to get some lovin'. That at least brought her temporarily to the front and helped leashing her up.
Once I brought her home we did laps around the snow path around our backyard. She had the instinct to follow me around and looked much more comfortable outside. The neighbor dog "The Brown Roamer" escaped during our first session so they got to meet.
Inside though Bailey more clearly showed her hoarding background. She would stick her head into a corner and tried to disappear, avoiding all eye contact. I had to use the leash to get her in and out of the house. Eventually she would come in on her own, but still needed the leash to be coaxed into going outside.
At first I tried to keep her in her cage, but she seriously did not want to go back inside. Since she seemed housetrained, was fine with Boomer and didn't seem like a separation anxiety case, she was allowed to go wherever she wanted.
Since she didn't like anyone reaching toward her I just had her drag the leash around all day so when we were outside I could easily grab it to take her for a short walk in the front yard. She eventually started to cautiously explore the house more, but always ended by finding a corner to face away from the room and hunker down until the next time we went outside. She was drinking ok but not eating at all the first several days.
By day five she finally started eating kibble mixed with some canned food. I had to bring the food to her though and let her eat in the room she was hunkered down in.
For a couple of days she decided to make the space under the bed in our guest room her den. It was such a tight squeeze for our "Big Girl" that I put some blocks under the bed posts to raise it up a bit. But it was more of a challenge to get her out so I ended up blocking the doorway.
After six days of not much progress I decided to start fostering one of the other hoarder dogs, Shadow, in the hopes that she might eventually help to bring Bailey out of her shell.
But after almost six weeks the only semi-normal behavior I could get from Bailey was to have her follow me around outside doing laps in the backyard and part of the front yard . After one lap outside she was always looking for the sign to go back in, the only time she would ever look happy and wag her tail. She would literally try to herd me to go back inside.
For the first three weeks I made her go out four times a day, but eventually I cut that back to just three. Each time I had to leash her up to get her outside, even after six weeks. For the rest of the day she'd hunker down under the computer desk or card table in the computer room. It was six weeks of no leg room for me while on the computer.
Once or twice a day we'd also pace back and forth together from the computer room to the bedroom seven or eight times. Other than eating and drinking it was the only activity I could get her to do in the house.
To feed her I had to bring her food bowl into the computer room, where we set up her water bowl. She was basically a two room dog that didn't seem to like being petted or getting any attention.
Sometime after three or four weeks Shadow and Bailey's behavioral issues -- which in previous fosters would have seemed like a challenge that would inspire me to do anything I could to help the dog -- started to affect me with a growing sense of despair and defeat. Not good.
The last two weeks were very trying. When I went to Petsmart one day to buy something for my aquarium I saw a couple of dogs just walking around being normal and I almost started crying. That had NEVER happened before. Coming after the heartbreak of Gunner, followed by Tessa's parvo, fostering these two dogs had become extremely painful. Time to take a break from the more severe special needs dogs I think.
We kept Bailey and Shadow until we left town for a vacation. After getting back I went to the shelter everyday for the next three and a half weeks to spend time with them.
With Bailey I could do little more than briefly walk her back and forth in the back area to go potty, and then pace back and forth in a secluded hallway. The only time she wagged her tail was when she knew she was going back inside.
I gave her a couple minutes of petting each day in her kennel, but it was hard to tell if she enjoyed it or not. She definitely enjoyed getting her biscuits afterwards.
Sadly, the expected decision was made and Bailey was put down. For some reason I wasn't told ahead of time and wasn't able to be there. I literally showed up to discover an empty kennel next to Shadow with Bailey's two biscuits in my pocket.
So after many more tears I said my own goodbye to Bailey. In the end I was very thankful to everyone at IndyHumane who gave me the opportunity to at least try to help her. She deserved a much better life than she got.