Update on Suzie formerly known as Lucie- How lucky we are to have such wonderful volunteers who foster for us. This was a failed foster……..Thank you Lucie Kavanagh!
Susie has been with us for nearly nine weeks now. When she first arrived, she looked tiny. It wasn’t just that she’s a small dog. She looked like she wanted to make herself smaller. She was hunched up, breathing harshly and had a sad little face. Around the house she moved quickly, keeping out of everyone’s way. She had obviously known some very hungry times as she gulped her meat but seemed unsure about anything else. She didn’t know what to do with toys. It was very clear that she was terrified of men and when out in the garden she hesitated to come back inside especially if any of us were nearby. It was as if she expected to be punished for entering the house.
Sadly dogs like Susie who have been through trauma are the dogs that can be the hardest to rehome. They are also the dogs most in need of a permanent home. They don’t “show” well. When potential new owners come, they are too anxious to approach and make friends. They are afraid of new people.
When taken home, new owners might not realise how much time a traumatised dog needs to settle into a new home and might return them to the shelter feeling that they are not working out. Traumatised dogs need a good month or two simply to realise that they are not going to be hurt or abandoned by their new people. They might exhibit behaviours like wetting, growling, being sick, hiding or not coming when called. But given time these dogs can and will settle into the house and become the most loyal and loving friends as they learn to trust and to feel safe.
Susie has a crushed trachea. She takes medication daily for this-a steroid and cough medicine. These help to keep her breathing as clear as possible and stop her coughing too much. At first her breathing issues seemed quite severe but we were happy to see that, as she grew more comfortable and her anxiety started to decrease, her breathing became easier and the coughing much less frequent.
It’s only in recent weeks that we have seen her personality emerge. She had always been more comfortable with me but gradually her fear of men subsided and she started to wag her tail when my dad or brother came into the house or room and progressed to wanting to sit on their knees. The newest and nicest development has been her sudden interest in toys and playing. She began to copy my dog as she played with her toys and now quite often heads upstairs to find something to play with. This can be anything, ranging from coat hangers to pens to cushion covers. She and Maisie have very funny “tug of war” games with toys despite the difference in size!
At the moment we are working on walks and exercise. She’s an independent soul and likes to head off if gates are left open although when pursued she allows herself to be captured quite happily! Her enthusiasm for food has led to rapid weight gain so we’re looking for a nice balance in what she eats and activity she is able for. She is getting used to going for little walks on her harness and lead and likes to visit between my dad’s house and mine.
Other dogs have been a huge help to Susie. My father’s dog Molly has shared her favourite chair and been a comfort and companion to her whereas Maisie has taught her to run around and play. All of the traumatised dogs we are seen over the years have always benefitted so much from being around happy dogs and having new friends to copy and learn the ropes from.
We are all enjoying Susie and getting so much joy from seeing her character develop and her confidence grow each day. I would urge anyone rescuing a dog not to be afraid to take on the challenge of a dog who has been through very hard times. It takes time to heal their spirits but it is so rewarding to see all that they are capable of and their willingness to keep trusting despite a difficult past.