Written By Robin Markovits, CCDT
Dog Trainer, Pets Alive
Let’s not kid ourselves: life in the shelter is not what most dogs would prefer. However, we at Pets Alive do whatever we can to make life good. One of our main tools in this endeavor is the Adoptability Team. This group consists of volunteers who devote their time to not just walking and loving our dogs but to also make them more adoptable. They can play a pivotal role in the adoption process because our dogs and volunteers form a special bond.
Often the hardest dogs to place into forever homes are the shy ones. These dogs will pace in the back of the run, snarl and even run away when a stranger either walks anywhere near the run or enters it with a leash. Trixie was one of these dogs.
It took Amy S., an experienced team member, a little over two weeks before she gained just enough of Trixie’s trust to leash her for a walk. However, it was still not possible to pet her or to get her to relax. Amy was careful to remain calm and not force herself on Trixie. When working with this type of pup, patience is always a virtue.
But finally, a breakthrough! Amy felt Trixie at her hand sniffing away. The next obstacle to overcome was the all-important invitation to “Please pet me.” We do have benches and chairs scattered through the common areas of our sanctuary, and a part of Trixie’s training routine was to sit for a period of time with Amy. Before she knew it, Trixie leaned in for a side stroke. Trixie’s wall of shyness literally crumbled at an even faster rate as other people were admitted into Trixie’s circle of trust – but there was still only one Amy. Whenever Trixie caught a glimpse of Amy in the parking lot, she would watch expectantly for her to come to her run. There would be walks on the wooded path, romps in the exercise yard playing with toys, and finally a return to run with plenty of pets as well as treats.
Every person at Pets Alive hopes for a forever home for the dogs in our care – and one day, an adoptive family became very interested in Trixie. When they were brought into the Adoption Office, they were instructed not to stare directly at Trixie and were given some very tasty treats along with the directions to put the goodies in their hand and extend a flat palm. We communicated that Trixie was very shy, so the process would require patience and time. As expected, Trixie showed some interest in the treats that were being flat palmed but wouldn’t stick around for petting. While the family was told that this was incredible for Trixie, they couldn’t envision the future. Then Amy walked in and Trixie became so happy that she ran straight to Amy. In fact, both of their faces brightened before our very eyes. As Trixie played with Amy, she also became more open to the family. After a short period of time, the family was able to take Trixie for a walk on the path without Amy. During the walk, they discussed whether Trixie should become a part of their family. As they came up the path, they told us that they loved her and wanted to adopt her. Trixie had found her forever family! Time and patience were stilled required but the transition period went well.
When potential adopters can see how a particular dog lights up and becomes joyous as she sees “her person,” they gain a glimpse into the future…how their new dog will react to them once the new bond is formed…kisses and all.
Come for a visit and get to know Gabby, Chloe, Tucker, Nana and all of our dogs, many of whom are students in our Adoptability program or check out our website, where you can view all our animals for adoption.
In fact, check out Gabby’s video! Gabby, a student in the program, was once fearful of people but no longer.
Give these animals a chance and you may find your new best friend!