Working with a young dog rescued from the streets of Romania stole my heart and cemented my determination to do what I can to help these rescues as well as the charity ‘O.U.R. Dog Foundation- Saving Death Row Dogs’. The owner was desperate for help for the beautiful young boy who was one of a group of puppies rescued from the streets in Romania. He was such a terrified little soul that found his new world (no matter how loving it was) impossible to understand and just too terrifying . His owner had tried holistic remedies, a behaviourist, even medication from the vet to help this lad’s extreme fear and anxiety but nothing was helping. The little dog was so fearful of people he would flinch if they went to stroke him when out on a walk and even then would just be desperate to get back home. But even at home, if they had a visitor he would react with such extreme fear, he would be pacing, excessively panting, hiding behind furniture and barking – constantly. Even when another family member arrives home he would react again with extreme fear and the cycles of behaviour would start all over again.
When indoors and hasn’t had his extreme fear triggered he was the most affectionate and friendly young dog going. He had some skin and parasite issues when he was rescued from the streets but these were treated before he came to the UK. Prior to visiting I had a feeling that before I do any hands on work with this lad I was going to need to build his trust and this was something that was entirely down to this him and in his own time. After all, my visiting alone will trigger his extreme anxieties. This was one of those days I was thankful to the in-depth training I received by the Holistic Vet Dr Edward Bassingthwaighte regarding the use of body language with highly anxious and fearful dogs. From the moment we met outside the door to the next about 45 mins indoors I altered and used my body language to help him feel safer with my presence. Slowly he became curious. Slowly he came closer, he didn’t even react when his body touched my hand which I had held down in an open position.
When he did not need to escape and hide the other side of the lounge I asked his owner to put his lead on but to just leave the lead on the floor. Soon I was able to take the lead and carefully have him staying at a certain safe distance. Throughout he would come & sniff then back off. Each time getting braver. The video below shows a completely different dog, so relaxed that he was twitching in his sleep. I did not expect to see him this relaxed so early on. It was an emotional moment for his owner and me! This was only a tiny step in his healing, he and his new loving family had a long journey ahead of them together. But for this evening he got to feel safe and secure enough to deeply relax, even if for a short but possibly for the first time in his short traumatic life.