℅ The Horse and Groom, East Woodlands, Near FROME, Somerset BA11 5LY 07712 196465
Advice Given by one of
Romania’s Most Trusted
Pet Transport People
ELI’S GUIDE (With all our thanks to Eli from Elipet)
We all know what a pleasure it is to welcome a new dog into our homes and to give him/her a fantastic life but please keep in mind that a dog doesn’t know all of your good intentions and will feel overwhelmed by so much attention and new people around. Please follow our advice for your new arrival and you will have a happy life with your fur baby.AT HOME 1. Giving the dog SPACE is mandatory – do not push by stroking him/her (you wouldn’t want to be kissed or hugged by a stranger, your dog is the same. 2. DO NOT constantly COME WITH TREATS because your dog will never understand why a smiley face permanently approaches and gives him food when all he/she wants is to have peace and accommodation within the new environment, sniffing and getting to know the area. 3. Leave the dog alone. IGNORE him/her for a while and let him/her approach you first. When this happens, it means he/she is ready to properly meet you. Again, no hugs, kisses or strokes as they will just feel trapped by your arms. You have a lifetime for these things after he/she is ready to accept your love. 4. Keep the dog away from your EXIT DOOR as he/she can so easily sneak between your legs and escape. Never under estimate them as, even from curiosity, they will want to go out. The first attempt for any dog who was kennelled is to go through a door and explore more or to run away where he feels trapped. IN THE GARDEN 1. Prepare your GARDEN. Any objects which can be used to assist the dog to climb over fences should be moved (garden benches, storage containers etc.) Some dogs will also try to burrow under fences or chew through them in an endeavour to escape. 2. Do not leave the dog UNSUPERVISED in your garden because he/she can easily find a way to escape even if you are sure there is no way to do it. TRUST US, when a dog panics, he will find the opportunity to do it – no fence, no garden, is safe enough. These ex strays had to fight for their lives and survive in the streets and they are braver and smarter than you think. Keep them on a long line and stay with them and you won’t give them the opportunity to escape. 3. DO NOT WALK the dog until you bond with him and exercise him/her firstly in your garden. Many of the dogs come from shelters and have never had a lead or collar and any attempt to rush him/her will be a step backwards and you will lose his/her trust. WALKING1. Do not walk the dog without having a SLIP LEAD AND HARNESS, with a lead attached. Any dog can escape from a regular collar or harness; it takes just a second and you will lose your dog. What’s the point of a dog travelling 3000KM and die in the U.K and for you to feel guilty for your entire life when these things can so easily be avoided by using the proper tools’. 2. Do not let the dog OFF LEAD – being friendly and relaxed doesn’t mean he/she will come back to you when he/she is out – he can get scared and in a split second, he/she is gone forever. IF A RESCUER HAS SUCCEEDED IN SAVING THE DOG’S LIFE, TREATED AND KEPT HIM/HER SAFE UNTIL ADOPTION AND, IF ELI SUCCEEDED IN TRANSPORTING HIM/HER SAFELY TO THE U.K., IT IS YOUR DUTY TO KEEP HIM/HER SAFE AND OFFER HIM/HER A WONDERFUL LIFE IN YOUR HOME.
A Guide to Surviving the First Two Weeks
with a Shy Dog - by Erzebet YellowBoy
Erzebet Yellowboy wrote this excellent mini-book about how to cope with your own feelings of distress or inadequacy when you adopt a shy or emotionally damaged dog. It's based on her experience of adopting Pebbles, her extremely timid dog, and will be very useful to anyone in the same position.PrefaceThis little guide was written in order to help fill what I perceived as a gap in the available literature concerning shy/cautious/damaged dogs. I am not an expert; I am simply a woman who adopted a shy dog without knowing what I was getting into. I am also a woman who spent the six weeks prior to bringing my dog home reading everything I could get my hands on about what I could expect once he got here. Unfortunately, nothing I read prepared me for the reality of living with a shy dog. There are hundreds of manuals and websites and blogs that are extremely helpful in outlining positive training methods, conditioning and counter conditioning, dog psychology and canine communication, and everything else you will need to send you on your way to helping a shy dog become more confident and trusting. What I didn’t find, aside from a few comments, was anything to help me cope with the emotional upheaval adopting this dog caused. This is the guide I wish I could have read at the beginning of my own journey, and it is my hope that it will help others chart the sometimes difficult, but always rewarding, first two weeks of living with a shy dog. IntroductionExperts often talk about how the first two weeks with a newly adopted dog will affect the dog. He or she will feel like an alien dropped off on a strange planet. He or she will need time to adjust. This is called the honeymoon period. Your dog’s true personality may only reveal itself after the first two weeks have passed. Go easy on the dog. In the case of shy and/or damaged rescues, the advice is to ignore the dog so he or she doesn’t feel threatened, or put-upon in any way. Give the dog space. Don’t look the dog in the eye. There is a recurring theme—and rightly so—in every single piece of literature I’ve read and in every single piece of advice I’ve been given. That theme is how to help the dog. And why shouldn’t it be all about the dog? The dog didn’t have any say in where he or she ended up. We, the adopters, made that decision. We picked this dog out of all the others and said, “Hey, you’re coming home with me.” If you are fortunate enough to have adopted a friendly dog, one who enjoys human companionship, one who was properly socialized, then this guide is not for you. You and your dog are free to sail forth into the years of joy and comfort you two will provide for each other. As you go, spare a thought for those of us who didn’t adopt that dog. Especially spare a thought for those of us who had no idea how shy our dog actually was until we got him home. The one thing lacking in all of the literature and all of the advice I’ve read and been given is how to deal with yourself during the first two weeks with your damaged dog. For the sake of this book, I am going to use the word “damaged” to describe shy dogs, because the word shy just doesn’t do the kind of dog I’m talking about justice. There is shy, and then there is whoa, don’t come near me. A shy dog isn’t necessarily a damaged dog, however, so don’t allow me to mislead you into thinking a genetically shy dog somehow has something wrong with him. Even so, many of us end up with dogs that do fall into the category of damaged. Wherever the shyness comes from, and whatever its degree, your first two weeks—especially if you are as inexperienced as I was—could see you reeling through emotions you didn’t even know you had. If this sounds familiar, then this guide is for you. My goal in writing this guide is to begin a conversation about and for those of us who choose to open our homes to these remarkable dogs. We love our dogs and want what is best for them, but we must remember to take care of ourselves, too. Our dogs depend on us—not because they chose to, but because we chose them—and we’d do well to call in the support we need even as we work to support our dogs. Three Primary Cares: Safety, Food, and TreatsIt is very easy to get wrapped up in all of the “shoulds” and “should nots” of dealing with a damaged dog, especially during the first two weeks when we’re all gung-ho to get it right. We are on high alert from the minute the dog enters our home—everything is new and exciting and overwhelming for both him and us, and we want our dogs to know that we love them, that we want them, and that they are home safe at last. You may as well give it up, because a damaged dog may not know these things for a very long time. Expect nothing, the experts say, and they are right. In this guide I sometimes use the phrase “three primary cares.” These are the three things you can fall back on when the going gets rough, as it most certainly will. When disappointments come along to crush us, when we are confronted with our own shortcomings, when the dog doesn’t seem to respond to anything, you can count on the three primary cares to ease your mind and his. Regardless of what you are doing with your dog, and regardless of what your dog is doing, if you are providing him with the three primary cares of safety, food, and treats, then you and he are doing just fine. Remember, you have saved him from a tragic life, and that is no little thing. Safety equals a safe shelter for the dog, one in which he is not exposed to the elements, one in which all medicines and poisonous substances have been locked away, all electrical cables hidden, and one in which there is a soft bed, den, or crate where he can hide if he feels the need. Food equals regular, high quality meals, twice a day, more if your dog is underweight when he arrives. Treats equal all of those little nibbles you offer your dog throughout the day, whether they are meant to be training treats or are just meant to show the dog you like him. If it all gets too overwhelming, boil it down to this: if you are providing him with the three primary cares of safety, food, and treats, then you and he are doing just fine. Building TrustThere is one word you will hear over and over when you are learning about how to cope with your damaged dog, and that word is trust. Essentially, you can assume that your damaged dog does not trust you or any other human on the planet. This lack of trust is at the root of the shy dog’s behavior. You are embarking upon a journey of building trust, sometimes in the slowest increments imaginable. There are thousands of websites and scores of good books that explain how to build your dog’s trust in you. Here is what they don’t say: you’ll get nowhere fast unless you trust your dog. Dogs sense things. They read us like open books. Our slightest movement—movements we don’t even know we’re making—read to them like an epic novel, like Moby Dick, or War and Peace. Yes, that many words. If the dog knows you don’t trust him (and he’ll know), then why on earth should he trust you? Dogs are creatures of the senses; even if your dog is hiding in the corner with his head turned toward the wall, he will be sensing you. They say it takes time and lots of it to build the dog’s trust in you and that’s a fact. The thing is, if you’re kind and patient and willing, then the dog has all the time in the world to figure out that you can actually be trusted. You, on the other hand, don’t have any time at all. Your goal, from day one, is to get the dog to trust you, but you can’t be expected to automatically trust him, now can you? No, that would be foolish. You need time, too, but you haven’t got any because all of this trust-building has to start on day one. That’s what the experts say, and I agree, but in all things the foundation has got to be sound or the building will fall. In these first two weeks, the best thing you can do for yourself is to put aside the idea of building the dog’s trust. Keep him safe, feed him regularly, offer him treats regularly, and watch him constantly out of the corner of your eye. Do what the experts say and otherwise ignore him. He’ll be busy finding his bearings—so should you. Forget giving him treats so that he’ll come to associate your hand with good things. That may begin to happen during those first two weeks, and if it does, fantastic! If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. Just go on and give him treats without attaching anything to the simple act of giving treats. You’re giving him treats because you like him. Your main goal is to observe your dog, to learn his habits, his triggers, to figure out what he likes and what he doesn’t like, or to learn whether he’s even capable of revealing these things. Your goal is to figure out whether or not he’s going to eat the sofa, or your favorite pair of shoes, or if he’s going to pull down the curtains or fight with the cat. Yes, everything you learn about your dog may eventually be proven wrong, but we have to start somewhere. If we don’t trust our dog, we can’t expect him to trust us, and no one trusts the unknown. It is therefore your task to know your dog well enough to trust him, and then the real trust-building can begin. Natural FearsOne of the biggest hurdles in trusting our new dogs is fear of the dog himself. We’ve taken this creature into our homes and in many cases have no idea how aggressive he will or won’t be. No one wants to be bitten. My dog is the size of a Labrador. He has an enormous head and shoulders and a powerful set of jaws. His teeth are pretty huge, too. I was told he had no aggression in him at all, and I believed that, and when he arrived I saw it for myself. But dogs can react suddenly to stimulus just like humans can and there is never any guarantee that a dog won’t bite if his fear levels get out of control. The obvious course of action is not to scare the dog, but sometimes we do things (or things happen) that do scare him. The best thing you can do is to simply accept that it could happen. One day your dog might bite you. You can prepare for that day by making sure he has all of his vaccinations, and that you have bandages and antiseptics at home. But most importantly, if you feel your fear levels building, back away from the dog. This is crucial. You must never approach your dog when you are experiencing fear. This has nothing to do with those outdated and wrong theories about dominance. When we are experiencing fear, we are not on top of our game, and ideally we only want to approach our damaged dog when we are on top of our game. This lets the dog know that we are stable, consistent humans who can in fact be trusted. It’s not going to hurt anything, and indeed it may prevent harm, if we leave the dog alone until our fear subsides. The other fear is that we may do something to damage the delicate relationship we are establishing with our dog. Trust is a funny thing—not only do we need to trust our dogs, we need to trust ourselves, and if you are a complete novice like I was when my dog came home, this is no easy task. My shortcomings were never so clear as they were during my first week with my dog. I knew myself to be wholly inadequate and was overcome time and time again by feelings of utter helplessness. Let it go. Of course we’re going to make mistakes. Everyone does. It is not the end of the world. My biggest fear when dealing with my dog was that I would somehow do him more damage than good—by putting his collar on before he was ready, by sneezing at the wrong time, by feeding him the wrong thing. In some ways, these are valid fears. Our dogs are delicate creatures, or I should say what trust they do come to have in us is, at first, a very delicate thing. Setbacks will happen, and they may happen regularly. Every dog is different. As long as you adhere to the three primary cares of safety, food, and treats, any unintentional damage you may do to your dog will be undone in time. Dogs are incredibly resilient and forgiving creatures—it’s us who hold the grudge, so be sure you aren’t holding one against yourself. If you are a novice at dealing with shy dogs, it may be better not to dive right into active trust-building during these first two weeks with your dog. When we engage in a behavior we know we aren’t very good at, such as teaching or training a damaged dog, we give ourselves very few opportunities to trust ourselves to get it right, simply because we will sometimes get it wrong. Safety, food, and treats—be consistent in giving your dog these three primary cares, and let your trust in youbuild from there. The Emotional LandscapeIf you’re like me, you want to cuddle, or at least to occasionally pet your dog. In a perfect world, your dog will curl up with you on the sofa (if you allow that sort of thing), or he will lie at your feet, or he will do any number of things that you associate with a “normal” dog’s behavior. My friend, you are out of luck—for a while, at least. Maybe forever. We just don’t know, and no one can tell you exactly how your dog will turn out when all is said and done. But we all have hopes for our damaged dogs, otherwise we wouldn’t have them, yet here is one of the places where we can set ourselves up for a great fall. I am generally a very reserved person. I keep my emotions in check most of the time, buried somewhere beneath my crusty exterior. Some would call this is a shortcoming. I call it me. Whatever your temperament, you can expect to run the full emotional spectrum during your first two weeks with your dog. It may not happen—you may be the type who can sail smoothly through the roughest waters. If that is you, then this section will not apply. However, I suspect quite a few new adopters will find something familiar here, especially if this is their first experience with a damaged dog. After my first week with my dog, I was an emotional wreck. Not only do I not like to be an emotional wreck (who does?), I have precisely zero coping skills for those times when my emotions take over the world. I searched far and wide for some kind of guide, some blog or website or book that would help me chart these—for me—extreme waters, and found nothing of use, other than the repeated advice to be patient. Patience is a wonderful thing, but for me it was not enough of an answer. It was then the light bulb went off. What I was experiencing was exactly what Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined in her “Five Stages of Grief.” The stages, known as DABDA, are as follows:1. Denial2. Anger3. Bargaining4. Depression5. AcceptanceIt seemed quite strange to me that the stages of a joyous occasion (new dog! new friend!) should so clearly mimic the stages of grief, but the evidence was undeniable. Once I made this connection, I immediately began to keep a record of my journey through each stage—what triggered it, and what I could potentially do about it. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I can almost guarantee that somewhere along the way, sometime during those first two weeks, you will experience one or more of these stages. DenialAs humans our capacity to deny what is right in front of us is legendary. You won’t find any other animal declare a snake is not a snake, is what I’m saying. We, on the other hand, will not only declare the snake is not a snake, we will attempt to treat the snake like a teddy bear and then be astounded when the teddy strikes. This is one of the many things that make us unique among the species and it’s not really something we should be proud of. A snake is a snake and a shy dog is a shy dog, but it could take us some time to accept that our dog is a cowering wreckage of a canine. Denial tends to set in even before we get the dog home. “He won’t be that bad,” we say. “He just needs a little love and attention,” we tell ourselves. “He’ll snap out of it,” we nod sagely. “I can handle this,” we tell all our friends. In some cases, we might be right. In many cases, we will be oh so wrong. If, the minute you bring your new dog home, he crawls into a corner or under a desk and refuses to even look at you, put any and all of these thoughts aside immediately. Don’t prolong your misery. The trick is to see your dog for who he is. A damaged dog is a damaged dog and only time and patience will change that. How much time and how much patience depends on a whole world of factors. The truth is that none of us know how much time or patience our dog will need. You won’t find this information in a book, and the best behaviorist won’t know either. Your dog is your dog and no other. You won’t be doing either him or you any favors if you don’t accept this the minute he walks (or is carried) through your door. Observe him. Get to know him for who he is, and for goodness sake don’t lie to yourself about him. Just admit that you don’t know what he needs other than a safe home, good food, and treats.AngerWhen I realized just how damaged my dog was, rage burned through me like a flaring sun. It didn’t help that the rescue organization didn’t give me any useful information concerning my dog (as it turned out, they even got his gender wrong). I went ballistic once I got past stage one and noticed the obvious. It feels like a breach of some unspoken code to speak ill of anyone so kind as to organize a dog’s rescue, and speaking ill of anyone isn’t the point—the point is that anger can easily manifest and be directed at all sorts of things. Most of my outrage was directed at the rescuers for a whole assortment of reasons, not least of which was the dog’s physical condition. I’m not talking about his gender—I’m talking about the fact that when he arrived, he was a sack of bones. This was after he’d spent four months in a private shelter. No one could get near him, so no one did. No one bothered to tell me that no one could get near him, so I had no idea what I was getting into. This was also a cause of outrage, but to be fair, during the first two weeks almost everything became a source of outrage, including the maltreatment of every dog on the planet ever. Your anger may be directed at other things. You may even get angry at yourself for not being able to cope with such a challenging responsibility. That is a lot of anger to take on, and guess what? The dog can feel it, too. It would be silly to suggest that we just don’t get angry at what we perceive to be great wrongs—at what are great wrongs. But there are things we can do to help ourselves deal with the anger so that it doesn’t destroy us and our dogs. Remember, during these two weeks while you are watching your dog, he is also watching you. What humans need when they feel angry is to direct that anger at something (not someone—don’t do what I did and shout at your husband, especially when he’s only trying to help). Step back and choose your victim mindfully. For some of you a punching bag might be the answer. For those of you who are less physical, try some Tai Chi. You don’t need to be a martial arts master—just pull up a beginner’s video on Youtube and have at it. Anger appreciates physical movement. If you are a dancer, then channel your anger into dance. Take a brisk walk or ten. Vacuum the house, if it won’t terrify your dog. Movement is key.Anger is only a bad thing when it causes us to lose control, so your job is to be sure you are controlling the way your anger manifests. It helps to keep in mind that there is absolutely nothing you can do about your dog’s past. That is beyond your control. What is in your control is your dog’s future, so hold to that. And also hold to the idea that what you’re experiencing is a perfectly normal reaction to a perfectly abnormal situation, especially if your dog was damaged by other humans. Bargaining“If you just let me clip on this leash, I’ll bake you a whole chicken.”Anyone with a hand shy dog has been there, especially if they can’t even get the dog outside to toilet. There’s only so much peeing in the house a person can take, right? Trust me, if you’re at the point where your only concern is getting a leash on your dog, then you are miles ahead of some folks. Unlike the other stages discussed here, bargaining isn’t a problem—as long as you take on board the fact that your dog may not fulfill his end of it for a very long time.You see, whatever positive method you use to teach or train your dog, you are in essence bargaining with him. You are promising an exchange: a touch for a treat, a leash for a chicken. In the Kübler-Ross model, we are bargaining for our lives or for the lives of our loved ones. Usually we are bargaining with death, which of course is not ever going to work. Even if we manage to pry a few more years out of death’s cold, bony hands, at some point he’s coming for us and there’s not a darned thing we can do about it. With a damaged dog, it is just the opposite, though I need to say that some damaged dogs will never, no matter what we do, heal. I’m not talking about those dogs in this guide.Fortunately, most dogs will heal. It may take a long forever, but they will heal, and you will do a lot of bargaining with your dog to get there. It is up to you to bargain with your dog in such a way that he’ll understand you. Clicker training is one such method. It all boils down to: if you do this for me, I will do this for you. When you do start to think about teaching/training your dog—to touch your hand, to wear his leash, to not eat empty pizza boxes—you will discover reams of useful material in books and online. You will not begin by bargaining with your dog; in fact you most likely won’t hear anyone call what you are doing at any stage “bargaining.” It will all be about building your dog’s trust, a very reasonable and compassionate step one. What we call bargaining comes later in that process. However, during the first two weeks, go ahead and bargain with your dog all you want. He will probably appreciate the profusion of treats that land in his mouth during this failed mission. Maybe it won’t be an entirely failed mission—maybe your dog will respond miraculously to those treats and will participate in the bargain. You could be one of the lucky ones whose dog says, “Heck yeah, I’ll wear that leash. Now where’s my chicken?” Or maybe he’ll endure the leash for the chicken, or maybe he’ll crawl back into his den and refuse to talk to you for two days, chicken or not. Don’t let this deter you. Keep right on bargaining. Keep right on baking those chickens, because what you are actually doing (whether you are aware of it or not) is forming a relationship with your dog. Like trust, a relationship requires a solid foundation, and for those dogs who do respond well to food, feeding him isthat foundation. Dogs will put up with a lot of nonsense. They will tolerate being left outside in all weather. They will tolerate being kept in cages. Some of them will even tolerate abuse. But no living thing can go without sustenance, and once your dog realizes you are the source of his sustenance, he will want to establish and maintain a relationship with you. And that, my friends, is exactly what we’re after. DepressionWhen I realized that the leashes, the harness and collar, the boots and raincoat I’d bought were all for nothing—when I realized it would be months before I could walk my dog (something I’d very much been looking forward to), I was entirely crushed, both for myself and for my dog, who would not be able to experience the joys of snuffling through the hedgerows and down the lanes. Disappointments such as this, especially when they just keep coming, can easily turn into depression.Depression is a foul place to be. The signs include listlessness, the inability to take joy in your life and relationships, lack of hunger, sleeping too much or too little, or even a general feeling of crabbiness (not to be confused with the anger of stage two), and a why bother attitude. Depression can be a horrible, lasting thing, or it can come and go, and during your first two weeks with your damaged dog, it probably will come and go. If you start to feel out of sorts, or sad, or that you just can’t cope, then do not cope. We do not have to spend every minute of every day fussing over and worrying about our damaged dogs. To be blunt, they have survived things far worse than being ignored for a day or two. Obviously you need to continue to fulfill the three primary cares, but what you don’t need is to attach any expectations to them. Just feed the dog. Just toss a treat at the dog. Just make sure he’s safe. That’s it—do those three things and leave the bargaining and all the rest out of it. Put him in his crate, if he has one, or lock him in his room, or whatever it is you do, and go soak in the tub. Go read a book. Go to work and allow yourself to be absorbed in your work. As long as the dog is safe and well fed, he will be just fine. It’s you we’ve got to worry about when depression sets in. The thing to remember is that you have already done your dog an immense service by adopting him in the first place. When I felt those tendrils of depression start to curl around me, it was always and without fail because I was apparently failing to get my dog to trust me. It was because I continued to cause setbacks due to my own ignorance or panic. It was because I felt inadequate, and that I had bitten off more than I could chew. It was because I was not a miracle worker. I had forgotten that I’d already worked one miracle—I’d given this damaged dog a home. Some depression is quite normal. You’ve put yourself under an incredible amount of strain by bringing a damaged dog into your home. Chances are you have upset your own routine, you may not be sleeping well at night, you may not be eating properly—in essence, you may not be doing a very good job of taking care of yourself. The sad fact of the matter is that unless you do take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take very good care of your dog. Please be aware of your own feelings—if you do experience depression and it doesn’t seem normal, seek professional help (for yourself and for your dog).AcceptanceFinally! They say it takes an undamaged dog around two weeks to adjust to a new environment. I say it takes a human around two weeks to adjust to a damaged dog. We’ve ridden the emotional rollercoaster and it’s all subsiding now. Clarity returns. What we tried to deny has become excruciatingly obvious. The thing is, acceptance can’t be forced and you may not have found it after two weeks. Just like every dog is different, every human is different, but eventually you will find it (or it will find you). For me, the first two weeks were the worst, and then at some point early in the third week, all of the emotional upheaval had passed and I found myself actually enjoying my dog. Why didn’t I just do that in the first place? Because I’m human, and full of hope and expectation, and I hate to see any creature in distress, and I hate to be the one apparently causing that distress, and as is usually the case with humans, all of this baggage got in the way of what really matters. What I learned during my first two weeks with my damaged dog was that when my best wasn’t good enough, I had to find a new best. If the best I could do was ignore him for a day, then that is what I did. If the best I could do was toss him a treat, that is what I did. I can’t be something I’m not—I can’t be a professional canine behaviorist just because I’ve read some books and websites. I can’t undo my dog’s past with a smile. What I can do is provide him with the three primary cares: safety, food, and treats. I can accept that on some days those are all I’ll be able to muster. When the first two weeks have passed and the dust has begun to settle, it will be as though a storm has cleared, or the clouds have parted. My spirits did discernibly lift, and I suddenly saw my dog for who he is—an amazing, intelligent, resilient creature who has survived trauma that would have seen me hospitalized for the rest of my life. Once this happens, we are free to begin the real work of turning a damaged dog into a friend—on his terms, not ours. Concluding ThoughtsEvery dog comes with his own challenges. It just so happens that our dogs are more challenging than some. However, we all adopted our damaged dogs for a reason. In my case, my husband and I wanted a canine companion, and we knew it had to be a rescue. When I saw our dog’s photo go by, I knew he was the one. I knew he was shy, but I didn’t know how shy he was, and I had no idea what his first few weeks in his new home would bring. It’s easy to forget, in the chaos of those weeks, why we wanted the dog in the first place. It’s very easy to think we maybe did the wrong thing, or that we are incapable of dealing with the animal we’ve brought into our homes. Sometimes that may be the case. Sometimes we may decide that we really can’t handle our damaged dogs, but I caution against making that decision too quickly. I especially caution against making it during the first two weeks—unless it is very clear that the dog’s safety or your own is at stake. If, however, it’s simply a case of your dog hiding under the desk and refusing to look at you, or cringing when you approach, then please give yourself time to see the situation clearly. Chances are, you won’t be able to at first. Chances are you’ll go from elation to despair and back again, and neither of these states leads to sound decision-making. You brought this dog into your home for a reason, and you owe it to the dog and to yourself to give both of you the time you need to adjust. When it all gets to be too much, just sit back and watch the dog breathe, or listen to him snore, or go out and prune the roses, or do whatever it is you need to do to regain your balance. Too many damaged dogs are returned to shelters simply because their adopters didn’t know how to take care of themselves during those critical first weeks. Your dog will thank you for not being one of them.