Friday, 9 June 2017

The "S Dogs" (part 3)

Read: The "S Dogs" (part 2)

In one of our dog kennels, a staff member was finishing some paperwork at a makeshift desk made from an overturned milk crate. In the kennels surrounding her were about a half dozen of the S Dogs. Occasionally tossing a treat to the kennels’ occupants, she went about her work as the dog nervously paced back and forth. Although it may have seemed like an odd sight to some, this was one of the critical first steps of their rehabilitation. This was getting them accustomed to the presence of people.

This continued for weeks and months. And slowly but surely, terrified looks and shell-shocked stares transitioned into fleeting eye contact or a cautious sniff. Each of these small victories were building on one another as the S Dogs learned to trust.

Then one day as our staff member went in to complete some paperwork, she opened a kennel door in hopes that the occupant would take a few brave steps out. From the corner of her eye, she saw him approach. Careful not to initiate eye contact, she continued her work as he cautiously moved closer. She thought she imagined it, but no, there it was. A cold wet nose brushed against her arm. She dared not move an inch. She threw a glance in his direction, and then, for just a few seconds, their eyes locked. It took everything in her to continue her work because she really wanted to jump up in celebration. For this was a tremendous step in the dog’s progress – progress that had taken weeks of patience. She knew this was something we could build on as we continued to patiently and persistently work with the S Dogs.

As more and more of the dogs began to slowly but surely step out of their comfort zones, we knew the real work was just beginning. We wanted them to understand what it was like to be a dog. Some hadn’t been outside in months because they were so terrified of being touched that collars and leashes simply had to wait. After walks could come playgroups, followed by meeting new friends and, eventually, going home.

The staff members and volunteers who had been working with them for months became the S Dogs’ closest friends. Forming a collaborative network of support, they shared in each of the dogs’ victories – big and small. “Saxon pawed me to keep petting him today!” “Sanderson took treats from my hand for the first time!” It was truly a team effort with one common goal.

Then the day came that some thought might never arrive. A family was interested in adopting one of the S Dogs. Word spread like wildfire. It was hard not to get hopes up because the end result was just too heartwarming not to dream about. And then it happened. Sal was the first of these special dogs to find a loving and understanding family to help him continue his journey.

Since then, more than 20 of the S Dogs have found homes, but there are still some who, more than a year after arriving at Animal Friends, we continue to work hard with each and every day. No matter how long it takes, we’ll continue to work with them tirelessly until they’re no longer in our care.

Interested in learning more about the S Dogs who are ready to find loving homes? Contact our Adoption team at 412.847.7002 or to set up a meet and greet today!

Adoptable dog, Sherlock.
Adoptable dog, Simon.

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