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Rescue Dog Romance

Jun 21, 2008
A good friend of mine rescued a dog a while back. He didn't get him from the pound, he sort of "inherited" him when his owner (who had been gravely ill for some time) passed away. The dog, a male, 3-something-year-old named "Busy" had been abused through neglect due to the owner's illness and he brought with him a whole bunch of emotional baggage.

"Busy" only responded positively to one person in the household, one of my friend's daughters. Everyone else was mostly avoided like the plague. Men especially were feared and given the "low growl" treatment. Since I was over at the house on average 3 times a week, I got a lot of growls...and barks too. I decided early on that I was going to change that.

I got out my tools...Kindness, and Persistence

Every day that I went to the house and walked up the drive I'd get barked at. So I responded with an uber-friendly "Hello Busy Man!"...and sort of "woofed" back in a friendly way. When I'd get in the gate he'd high-tail it around a corner and I'd poke my head around it and keep up the friendly banter. I'd do just about the same thing when I left the house too.

This went on for literally weeks!

I didn't care though; I was going to keep doing it forever if that's what it took to get "Busy" to start to recognize me and trust me. It didn't take much effort...I just needed to keep at it until he was ready to come to me.

Then one day he did.

Instead of skulking around the corner, he actually (tentatively) stretched out to sniff at me. I slowly squatted down and kept up my usual friendly greeting. Then, for a few visits, this became our new dance.

Some more time passed, and by then he was actually smelling and touching my outstretched hand. A little more time passed and I was giving him "Knuckle rubs" in that space between his eyes.

Today, he barks once or twice until he hears my voice and then he calmly waits for me to walk through the gate and give him a good "pet" because he knows it's coming every time he sees me.

Am I a magician?...NO

But I am persistent and I knew it was just a matter of time because he wasn't overly aggressive and he was living with a truly loving family. All I had to do was keep making emotional deposits into his "doggy bank account" until I had enough credit built up for him to take a chance on me. Of course, when he did, I had to deliver even more strokes...and I did. Now we're buddies.

Most dogs are truly loving animals who want to be part of your "pack." In the case of Rescue Dogs though, sometimes that natural desire for attachment has been abused right out of them...often to the point where they become overly aggressive. You can rekindle that spark though if you're prepared to be persistently kind.

So if there's a Rescue Dog in your future, remember he or she will need more time and understanding from you than other dogs. Be prepared for that. And remember too that the training may take longer, but that just makes the reward at the end sweeter.

Thanks for reading...
About the Author
Michael Royce is an amateur dog trainer who has lived with, trained, (and been trained by) more than a dozen dogs in the last 25 years. He is a regular contributor to several websites and is co-founder of The-Dog-Zone.net .
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