We’re All ‘Complicated’

I’ve wondered what I will write about now that we are holding steady with the same two foster dogs. I could tell you more about Flannery and how entertaining she is—how she chases her tail on a near daily basis, how her enthusiasm for her supper knows no bounds, how she zips around outside like an oversize hummingbird and comes the moment she is called. (And don’t worry, in that second video she totally takes out my husband but he is fine).

I was able to spend some time at the OPH booth on Saturday at Dogs Day in the Park talking to people who stopped by. I didn’t have a dog with me since neither Flannery nor Daisy could handle an event like that (but I did run into one of my former foster dogs, Hula Hoop, a mama I had last Christmas time with her three pups).

Being at the booth gave me the opportunity to explain to people why adopting from a foster home is smart, the very same topic I will speak about at an event at the Hereford Library in Baltimore County, Maryland where I’ll be signing books this Friday from 1-3pm (along with several cute Baltimore Blast players!).

dog days at hereford

Dogs living in a foster home, particularly ones who have lived so long in a foster home, are a known quantity. They have settled in and let their real selves emerge. And because our rescue is completely transparent, if you apply for one of these dogs, you’ll hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. Thelma’s adopters knew all the messy details of her chewing habits before they signed that adoption contract!

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Dogs, like people, are complicated. And some dogs, like some people, are very complicated. Daisy is one of those dogs.

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If you read the notes about Daisy in a shelter facility, it says she did well in playgroups and approached men in a “friendly manner.” I don’t know if it was the tragedy of losing her pups or the trauma of being abandoned, but the report from the shelter reads to me like a different dog. Yet I know this shelter, have visited it twice, and I trust their judgment. If they say that’s how she was while with them, then that was true.

Here at my house, Daisy gets excited at the sight of other dogs, but when she has had access to them it has turned into an altercation. Granted, the first time it was with Frankie and he surprised her in a dark hallway with several strangers. She reacted defensively, he backed down, and Nick pulled her off. No one was hurt.

The second time, it was with Flannery. Due to a miscommunication on my part, Daisy attempted to jump in my car and accidentally landed on top of Flannery who reacted as one would expect a thirty-pound dog to react when a fifty-pound dog lands on top of her.

Flannery, like Gracie, though, is a ‘blusterer’. When either of them meets a new dog their default reaction is to bluster – puff up and snarl and bark—but it’s all for show. Neither of them ever backs it up. After her bluster, Flannery has played great with every other dog she met. But in this unfortunate instance, her bluster caused Daisy to react defensively and an altercation resulted in Flannery needing stitches on her head.

So which is the real Daisy?

I don’t know. She has walked nicely side by side with pretty much all the dogs we’ve had at this house (Gracie, Flannery, Frankie, and Thelma). When she sees other dogs on our walks, she gets excited, wags her tail, and jumps around excitedly with a big smile on her face. She does not snarl or bark.

And watching Daisy, I can’t help but think that the company of another dog would give her more confidence. Maybe the fact that she was allowed access to other dogs at the shelter made her more confident and thus ‘friendly’ with men and women.

I don’t have a dog to test this theory as Flannery now has reason to react at Daisy and I won’t try with Gracie because I made her a promise a few years back when she was hurt by another foster dog that I wouldn’t ever put her in that position again and I won’t.

So, for now, Daisy is listed as needing to be a solo dog.

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And men? Well, Paul’s efforts have certainly proven that she can approach men in a ‘friendly manner.’ But I wouldn’t say she would ever approach a man in an ‘unfriendly’ manner – she simply wouldn’t approach men, at least not if they aren’t sitting and being still and calm. (One of this blog’s readers made a great suggestion that we market her to single women as a way to help determine whether a man is patient, gentle, and kind, since those are the kind of men she warms up to.)

Here’s Daisy greeting Nick in a friendly manner:

Daisy is a conundrum to me. She has so, so, so much love and affection to give to people, yet she is also very afraid. Complicated. But absolutely worth it. Now, what we need is an adopter willing to give her a chance.

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit CaraWrites.com or subscribe to my occasional e-newsletter.

If you’d like to know how you can volunteer, foster, adopt or donate with OPH, click here. And if you’d like more pictures and videos of my foster dogs past and present, be sure to join the Another Good Dog Facebook group.

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to comment here on the blog, email carasueachterberg@gmail.com or connect with me on Facebooktwitter, or Instagram.

 Best,

 Cara

Released August 2018 from Pegasus Books and available now

Another Good Dog cover

 

Published by

Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

11 thoughts on “We’re All ‘Complicated’”

  1. This may not be a valid observation but in that video I sense on first arrival while she is happy to see him, she is also tense and worried. Her ears are flat and she has her hackles up a bit. When he tries to touch her she shies away and won’t let him touch. Once he is seated and she relaxes and displays great affection. I think she is associating the arrival of a man with bad things. Once he is seated the bad thing association vanishes. Probably at some point in her past some male would burst in on her, stride over and do something like whack her or scold her so she is fearful when a man arrives.

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    1. I think you’re very observant. That’s a very likely scenario. She seems to really like men (everyone) if they are sitting and is most anxious (but excited) when they arrive. Clearly, she loves people, but she is afraid to trust them.

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  2. I laughed outloud at the video of her knocking Nick down. I’m glad she’s warming up to him more and more these days. You’ll find the right adoptor for her eventually. She’s come so far. Sorry that she’s had some scraps with your other dogs along the way though. If you write a second book about your foster dogs, her story should definitely be in it. It has good, bad and ugly aspects to it, so would be a very realistic story for potential dog fosterers or adoptors. Keep us posted on your pack and Daisy’s and Flanery’s progress.

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  3. It’s interesting. Does she ever give the front down, bum up “let’s play” signal. She obviously wants to please Nick but I kind of get the sense that she doesn’t know how. But I’m basing that on a very short clip and it’s more a feeling than anything else.

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    1. That is pretty accurate – she does want to please and she doesn’t know how. Everything is a very slow go with this girl. Whatever trauma she endured is deep and it takes many (many) repeated good experiences to make any progress. Thank goodness her response to her fears is to flee not to fight. She is a gentle-souled dog and that is her saving grace. She does give the play position invite – but mostly to other dogs she sees on the other side of her fence or when we’re out walking. She doesn’t do it with people – just does that crazy leaping and zooming.

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  4. I’m sure that if you actually forced Daisy into numerous traumatic experiences with men or other dogs, she could start using a fight response instead of fleeing to show her fear. I’m referring to an earlier comment on this post that you made. Good thing you’re not taking that approach. That could completely break her. She does sound like a gentle soul… a hurt one, but a gentle one nonetheless. I admit that there have been dogs in my life who I’ve had some dark thoughts about, but I don’t think I could ever bring myself to hurt a dog, no matter how much of a problem it was for me. For one things, that’s illegal, and another, the guilt would weigh heavily on me. Thank goodness for good foster homes who work to help dogs who are close to their breaking point heal.

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    1. I believe that’s true. Which is why my guys have never forced her into letting them handle her. It’s been hard because I am the only one who can put a leash on her or move her in/out of crates, but we’re doing this at her pace, which is a slow one. She’ll get there. I’m certain. Healing takes time.

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  5. It was nice to listen to the video of Paul spending time with her that you posted on Facebook, where he was offering her treats. When he filmed clips of them when you were away, I gather that he sent them to you soon after? What’s a boarding buddy? Seems a little different from a dog fosterer. Paul definitely has a big heart for man’s best friend, and it was sweet to hear him playfully calling Daisy a tease. She’ll get there. Keep us posted.

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