Louie was raised with his litter mates for a little over a year and pretty much unsocialized. When we picked him up he was a "bucking bronco" thrashing back and forth like a wild animal on a leash. We thought for sure we were going to lose him. My husband and I finally managed to get him in our van, and off to the groomer for a quick bath...you can imagine how that went. When we got him home he was afraid to come in our house since he was used to living in a barn. He stayed in the kitchen and would not go any further for a week or so. Eventually, he made it to our bedroom and would stay behind our bed. From the first day we got Louie I would try to pet him and he would get tense and stiffen up. I'd scratch him and tell him what a "good boy" he was and he seemed to like that. I thought I might be getting through to him.
The kids and I could get close to him but he was terribly afraid of my husband, Joe. If I was outside with Louie and he would see my husband look out a window, he would take off running. I remember Louie being so afraid of him that he plowed himself right through the "NEW" door screen. He was afraid of stairs and would not travel upstairs or downstairs in our house. Any noise loud or soft would send him bolting. He was afraid of the deck, the umbrella, the door, chairs, ceiling fans, even water lapping up on a beach. Just about anything large, anything that moved or made noise scared him. He would only go in and out of the house from the back door, most of the time I had to carry him since there were stairs and furniture. He wouldn't even eat around us. He was terrified of anyone who came to visit. So many times I thought, "Boy, I'm not the person I thought I was. Maybe I should throw in the towel." Lynn O'Shaughnessy was so kind to bring me a great book about help for shy dogs. From then on, anytime I got discouraged I would go to the book for help. Amazingly, Louie responded well.
One thing about Louie was that he seemed to love other dogs. Our other dog, Sadie, a Bassett Hound (who sleeps 23 out of 24 hours) finally awoke one day to discover there was another dog in the house. Louie was beside himself with excitement, jumping and bouncing around her. Ah ha, I thought: "there is a happy dog in there somewhere". Sadie, thought he was incredibly ridiculous jumping around and bouncing foolishly. I thought I'd try to take him to a dog park to be with other dogs and maybe get him into a comfort zone where he could relax and socialize. He liked it.
That was then, this is now. June will be 1 year since we had Louie. He now races through the house with delight. Runs up the stairs and down the stairs. Sleeps on our bed and works outside with me with glee; sniffing, digging, and chasing the birds back into the trees. He plays hockey with my son and steals the ball. Chases us down the sled hill and also loves to hear the snowmobile start up so he can follow us on that. He loves to go for hikes with us through the woods. Races down the beach chasing sea gulls, playing football and going for a swim! He loves to go for car rides. I put him in the back of our Jeep Wrangler but somehow during the course of the trip he will slide and wedge his almost 70lbs frame between the kids in the back seat. It doesn't look comfortable. I can't leave in the morning to take the kids to school without Louie throwing himself at me to take him. I think he feels we are his pack and the pack should not be separated. Oh, and one of his favorite people is: yep, Joe, my husband. He cannot wait for him to get up in the morning, come home from work and be chased by him. He's added a lot to our home this past year. When we pull up the drive the kids scream "Dad's Home!" and go screeching through the door run right past Daddy and yell, "Louie!...We've missed you so much!" and hug and kiss him. Louie beams. Dad has learned to adjust.
I hope anyone looking to adopt a shy or fearful dog will be encouraged. As the book says, you will have a good day, then a couple more, then some set backs and a couple more good days and pretty soon the good days will start to out number the bad. I remember the pivotable moment with Louie, was when Louie and I were our backyard and some little noise came and he bolted straight for the open field behind our house. Half way to the field he came to a dead stop. He turned his head and looked back at me. "Louie, where you going?" I said. He looked again at the field then as fast as he ran there, he turned and ran back to me and brushed up against me waiting for a scratch and hug of assurance. I think he figured HE WAS HOME.... and there really was no where else he wanted to be.
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