Whistler came into the rescue as a feral dog, picked up by animal control and taken to a local shelter. When we brought him into SCGRRescue he was terrified and would not get near anyone. He stayed outside in the backyard of his foster home for weeks and would not come in the house. He could not be leashed or even touched. He would avoid eye contact and would not respond to voices or praise. He was too scared to take a treat or eat in anyone’s presence. He spent many hours just pacing back and forth in the yard.
Now, after 7 months in foster care in a quiet, calm environment, with patience, positive reinforcement and a friendly canine companion, he is showing signs of improvement, albeit slowly.
He still remains on “high alert” much of the time, ready to bolt outside to safety should he get scared. But he is also beginning to trust. Before, almost any movement such as crossing legs or raising a hand would scare him and he would run away. Today, he doesn’t scare as easily. In fact, he now spends most of the time in the house with his people, often coming up to them of his own accord to lick them and receive attention.
He now also favorably responds to words of encouragement by wagging his tail and making eye contact. He has become the ever vigilant watchdog, barking at approaching strangers, wagging and gyrating when his foster mom returns home.
Whistler loves to go on walks on quiet streets and has fairly good manners, responding well to gentle correction. His little body still shakes from fear in large crowds of people, but he tolerates them for a short time and thankfully does not appear to have aggressive tendencies.
As with most dogs, Whistler loves his routine, and good at communicating to his humans if they are sleeping in too late or if it is time to eat or take a walk.
Recently, he has begun to expose his underside, asking for what has become an almost daily full body massage from his foster mom, with whom he is closest.
Whistler may never be the happy, people-loving carefree dog that epitomizes the golden breed. He may be driven by fear for the rest of his life. But he is learning to trust people at his own pace, and if he could talk, I’m pretty sure he would say he is in a good place.