Long-term shelter dogs can THRIVE!

Animal shelters do amazing work in rescuing dogs who have been abandoned or are unwanted. However, shelters that do not practice euthanasia often have another problem on their hands – how to handle the challenges arising from dogs that have been in the refuge for months, sometimes years.

It’s like a house that’s been on the market for a long time, the assumption is that something must be wrong with it.

In almost all cases, and with an experienced eye for their potential, this is so far from the truth that it’s heartbreaking.

If you have ever been to a refuge you will have seen how some dogs behave in that scenario. You might see dogs that are depressed, anxious, or perhaps full of adrenaline. This almost always means they act entirely differently to how they will in a settled loving home environment. Take, for example, the dog running in circles and jumping up against the wall, repeatedly – he or she is so so bored, needs to run, and needs stimulation! Take them out of the refuge, let the adrenaline leave their bodies (studies have shown this can take up to 6 months!), show them patience and love, and channel that energy positively, and then they will run and cuddle and sleep like any other dog. Or what about the dog that is so anxious and miserable in the refuge that they are losing weight and desperately need a home environment. They need to understand that humans are kind and loving, to relax, build up their confidence and fill their bellies.

Dogs coming from a refuge sometimes do have issues with barking, lack of house training, separation anxieties and aggression with other dogs. All of these issues can be addressed. All of us who have fostered can vouch to the joy of seeing a dog learn to trust and enjoy life.

Wide, now known as Ida, is positive evidence of how a dog that has been overlooked for years can settle down to a happy life in a family. Wide caught our eye in a refuge when I went to help with dog walking. She had a mischievous glint in her eye, a look that went right through you and tugged on your heartstrings. But it was 2 long years before someone took a chance on this girl. And, after a short period of settling in, Ida (as she is now known as) is a star family dog.

Fostering is an incredibly rewarding experience. Giving a refuge dog the gift of opportunity that our fosterers give is absolutely invaluable. The transformations we have witnessed over the years are what drives us to keep on tirelessly and compassionately helping, in any and every way we can.

If you would like to foster and experience the joy of seeing a dog come out its shell, then please get in touch.

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