Foster Dogs


Shadow Pictures

February 2014.  After six days of little progress with Bailey I decided to bring home Shadow, one of the other hoarder dogs.  She was shy and fearful, but much more interactive and affectionate than Bailey, who was content to just hunker down in a corner all day.  I was hoping she might help bring Bailey out of her shell faster.

Shadow was fearful of doors and had to be lifted into the car.  Once home she nervously explored and followed me around.  I had to use the leash the first few times to get her to come inside and to go into her crate.  But she would always approach and put her paw or nose on you wanting affection.

She tried to be dominate and snappy with Boomer at first so she got a firm correction.  After that she seemed ok with sharing space with him, but they didn't play together.

Shadow didn't want to be left alone in the crate the first several nights so I had to sleep on the floor next to her to keep her quiet.  I bought several "high value objects" to work on possible separation anxiety.  After a week she was allowed out of the crate overnight.

Eating time was apparently a very stressful time for Bailey and Shadow, so they both got their meals in separate rooms with as much calmness as possible.  I had to mix some canned food with their kibble to get them to eat.  Boomer got to lick the spoon.

After a few days we starting doing walks in the neighborhood and trips to the shelter.  The shelter was a bit overwhelming, but she did a little better with our walks.  Off leash in the front or backyard she dutifully walked next to me, which is why I had the shelter change her name from "Rita" to Shadow. Bailey would briefly come to the front with us, then trot back earnestly hoping I'd let her back in soon.

Both dogs eventually decided their favorite spot was under the computer desk.  Shadow would drape herself over Bailey like she was a beanbag. Using the computer was at times like sitting in the cramped coach section of an airplane with no leg room.

After almost six weeks Shadow still had a big list of major issues, especially with fear and insecurity.  Getting her in and out had gotten better, but occasionally something would spook her and made it a problem.

Eating was always stressful, even though she was in the living room eating alone with me and Boomer laying on the floor ignoring her.  Outside many things would spook her and send her tail down or even tucked under her belly.  She did ok on leash walks, but was always stressed and easily spooked.

She had several accidents in the house, including several days in a row during her third week.  So she had to go out at least five times a day to prevent this, which including taking her out from 4 to 5 in the morning every day, after having gone out around midnight.  And I had to do laps around the yard with her or she'd just sit by the door.  Many, many laps.

Once back inside in the morning she would whine when I was in bed to the point that I had to shut the door to get back to sleep.  She enjoyed being petted while I was sitting in a chair, but would never lay next to me on the floor, which was odd since she would lay on top of Bailey under the computer desk or card table.

Eventually I stopped doing the stressful leash walks and the very stressful trips to the shelter and let her roam with Boomer in the neighbor yards or follow me doing laps in our cul de sac.  She loved chasing after rabbits or squirrels, but didn't really interact with Boomer at all.  She usually just followed by my side.

Shadow and Bailey went back to the shelter full time when we went on vacation.  Shadow did better at the shelter than Bailey did. Around other people she still showed major avoidance, and going through doors was still stressful for her.  But alone with me she was very at ease.

So for the next 50 days I spent about an hour with Shadow each day at the shelter.  We spent most of our time walking or running in the woods and hanging out in the front yard to encourage as much normal dog behavior as possible with the least amount of stress.

As she got more comfortable I started walking her around inside for several minutes each day.  She improved slowly but surely until she was able to routinely walk past loud groups of people in the hallway and lobby and actually take treats from different strangers.

At this point it was easy to get her tail wagging and have her climb all over you giving kisses in the front yard.  When volunteers walked by with dogs she now routinely trotted over to check them out.

After 50 days she was finally deemed ready to go up on the website for adoption.  In preparation for her moving to the adoption floor we spent many sessions walking through all the places other volunteers would be taking her.

Her improving confidence continued and two weeks later she was adopted by one of the shelter's volunteers.  Shadow decided to give me a huge gift the day before by doing full blown euphoric zoomies (running around in wide circles) in the front yard for the first time.  I couldn't have asked for more.

Three months later we got to watch Shadow over the weekend while her owner went out of town.  It was wonderful to see how she had bonded with him, plus to learn that she got to go on 3 miles runs.  Once she was in the backyard I started doing laps and she dutifully walked next to me the whole time. Yup, we picked a very good name for her.