Sunday, September 11, 2011

Adopted Dog Update: Abby ... Already Home!

Seven months after coming to Pet Haven, cute little Abby has found her forever home – with her foster mom and dad! 

Abby is a 2 – 3 year old toy poodle mix. She came to Pet Haven from the Animal Humane Society (AHS). Abby was one of 72 dogs rescued from a hoarding situation in central Minnesota. A few of the dogs were “super shy” and needed to be socialized as they were fearful of people. These dogs would not do well at the shelter so AHS reached out to Pet Haven and other foster-home based rescue groups to take these dogs into our foster homes for rehab and placement. Pet Haven was able to help 3 of them.

More information and a TV news story about the rescue are available at

Abby likely had experienced very little human touch before she was rescued. She is very fearful of people. Even after 7 months in their home, Sally and Erich still cannot pet her. Sally reports:

“When Abby first came to our house she hid out in a pen we set up for her in our family room.  She ate and slept in the pen, and pottied on a pad in the pen. When we could supervise, we left the door to the pen open and she began to explore the house and interact with our other 3 dogs. However, Abby wanted nothing to do with us and would run to the pen if she caught us looking at her or if we reached towards her.

Abby quickly formed a bond with Trixie, our 3 year old yorkie (also adopted from Pet Haven). I have to give Trixie much of the credit for the progress Abby has made. The first important thing Abby learned from Trixie is that if your people go into the kitchen and you follow them there you often get a bit of cheese. We had to toss the cheese to Abby at first because she would not come close enough to take it from our hands, but that was how she learned to look at us when we called her name. We then moved on to teaching her the “touch” game – where she had to reach out and touch her nose to our fingertip to get the cheese treat. Trixie had that one down in a minute and gladly demonstrated it for Abby many times. Eventually Abby got brave enough to touch my finger and we had our first breakthrough.
Abby and Trixie

There have been other breakthroughs in the weeks and months since she first touched her nose to my finger. She happily takes treats from our hands, follows us around the house, has started sleeping in a dog bed at night in our bedroom, gets excited and licks my hand when I come home from work, and jumps up on the couch with us while we watch TV – out of our reach – but on the same couch. As she gets less fearful, we are seeing her playful, inventive personality come through. She is very smart and it is fun to watch her figure things out.

We have found that valium helps to calm Abby somewhat when we have to handle her for grooming or to have the vet examine her. The person who catches her needs to wear gloves as she often bites once (while frightened people scream, some frightened dogs bite) but then is OK, as long as she is in a firm grasp.

But, we still can’t touch Abby. If I push her we have a setback. So, we are letting her progress as she is comfortable. Those experienced with super shy dogs tell me she may never be “normal” and that it could take 2 or 3 or more years before I can reach out and pet her. It is emotionally hard to have a dog in your home that you can’t touch. Part of why dogs are great companions is because stroking them calms us and makes us happy. Hopefully, with Trixie’s help, one day Abby can fill that role. In the meantime we are celebrating each breakthrough and watching her personality unfold. Many thanks to Pet Haven and AHS for rescuing this sweet little girl and bringing her into our lives!”

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