Over the last year we have given a lot of last chances, taking in more and more 'at risk' dogs who had run out of options and were facing being put to sleep. These dogs are often extremely damaged and highly reactive and when we take them on we know we are taking on a big task and although it is always our goal to rehabilitate a dog so that they can go back out into the world with new skills we know that these dogs are so damaged that they are likely to remain with us forever.
We ignore the critics and shoulder the heavy burdens that come with these dogs, working with them each day and their rehab and learning are made part of thier daily routine. Each dog has its own type of day depending on the issues we are working with. Those that are terrified of touch get lots of touch work, those that are resource guarders play regular swapping games for treats with precious items they hold on to for security. The reactives are gently and safely worked with so that thier triggers become more neutral and they are slowly...sometimes very slowly, desensitised. There are no pressures here, no expectations and no rush, a dog can only be the dog he can become when given the right tools, environment, love and time and all of those are in abundance here.
Soza was one of these at risk dogs. When he came to us he was around 17 months old, he had spent the first 6 months of his life living in a drugs den where he was taught to attack and kill cats and dogs and used as a bait dog for 6 hellish months. He was then passed to a person that crated him 24 hours a day which was like a prison sentence; left in his own urine and faeces as they 'did not know what to do with him'. He was surrendered in July of last year and went into foster but sadly he escaped and attacked a dog, doing what he was trained to do in the drugs den because he knew no different. He was punished and beaten severely but Soza did not retaliate. I don't think any of us will ever forget the picture we recieved of him battered, bruised and swollen, it was horrific and heatbreaking. Despite all this evil Soza loved humans, even after everything they had done to him.
He found his first angel and was lifted from hell by Teresa White who placed him in isolation in kennels and looked after and nurtured him until she found him a place with us. As far as we were concerned he was going to come to us for life, his scars were so deep and his behaviours so ingrained and complex we felt it would be unlikely he would ever be safe enough to go back into a domestic environment. His rehabilitation was intensive, turning a trained bait dog into a less dog reactive animal is always going to take a lot of work and patience but he did so well, taking minuscule steps forward and continually surprising us until the day came that we knew he had a chance to go out to foster.
He went out to Last Hope Rescue who had stepped in as his RBU, with a bag full of new tricks from us to help him on the next steps of his new journey and underwent his assessments etc with them whilst waiting patiently for the perfect foster. Which he found and then the foster placement became rather permanent and he was adopted and landed in heaven, finally finding the family and love he was always meant to have...
So that's why they all deserve a chance because we know that even the 'worst' of dogs with histories that would have others writing them off can find the strength to surprise us and that last chance we give them could turn out be the best chance of all. Just ask Soza who sent us some updated pictures today *grins*
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