Last week I got to thinking… Adele has not been available for adoption because she is so afraid of people. What if the perfect family was out there – ready to adopt? If Adele stayed on hold, we may miss them. So I checked with DLRR and got approval to make Adele available. On Friday morning, Adele’s bio and photo were posted on the website and dogalogue (email that goes to approved adopters). On Friday afternoon, Angi called…

Day 16 – June 8

Angi and her husband Tony are experienced dog parents who have three big beautiful dogs. One dog, Murphy – a black Labrador, was also a fearful rescue. The week before, one of their dogs passed away. They weren’t actively looking to adopt, but when they saw Adele, they had to meet her.

Angi and Tony came over Friday night. We sat in the living room on the floor – Adele watched and didn’t come over to say hi (as expected). Within about 30 minutes, Tony had crawled over to Adele and started to pet her! She didn’t seem totally comfortable, but she didn’t run away. Although I regularly sat near Adele, I hadn’t tried to pet her yet because I wasn’t sure if she was ready. After a while, Angi crawled over and started to pet Adele too. The meeting went very well and I had a great feeling about them.

After Angi and Tony left, I approached Adele and tried a long-overdue pet. She didn’t run away. It is amazing how something we take for granted with most dogs is such a milestone with a fearful dog.

Day 17 – June 9

I continued to approach and pet Adele throughout the day. At first she walked away, so I sat close by for 15 – 20 minutes. Then I tried again and she was ok. I came back to say hi throughout the morning and she became comfortable with me approaching, sitting down, and petting her. I wish I had tried sooner, but was glad that I was finally bonding more with her.

In the afternoon we had some visitors – Michael’s brother (who was visiting from out of town) and Michael’s friend. Adele was stressed by the activity and hid a few times. It was also very hard to get her to go outside to pee pee. I had to put on the leash or send the guys out to the backyard.

Day 18 – June 10

Michael and I took Adele to Angi and Tony’s house to meet their pack. Adele was afraid and found a few hiding spots, as expected. But she seemed comfortable with the dogs, which were very cool (and cute). I had a really good feeling when I met Angi and Tony Friday night, but after spending time at their home, I knew they were meant for Adele. They felt the same and we completed the adoption.

New Home Update

Adele has a new name, Raven, and is doing really well in her new home. She slept in Angi and Tony’s room with the other dogs the first night (at our house, she rarely left the living room). Raven is still fearful and has a way to go, but she is making progress.

Lessons Learned

I am far from being an expert, and every dog is different – but here are some of the things I learned about caring for a fearful dog.

  • Be patient, very patient.
  • At first, avoid eye contact and don’t directly face the dog.
  • Talk in a calm, normal voice and give commands like you would with any other dog.
  • Take small steps to build trust.
  • But, don’t take things too slow (I waited too long to try to pet Raven).
  • If the fearful dog is ok with dogs, get her around other dogs as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

Trust your instincts… Something told me that I needed to make Raven available for adoption. I listened, and in just a few days she found a wonderful home.

Over the past year I learned to never underestimate the love, patience, and commitment of some dog parents. I’ve seen dogs with challenges and wondered if they would ever be adopted. But I’ve found that dogs with challenges are no less adoptable than ‘ideal’ dogs (in some cases, they are adopted sooner). There is a perfect match out there for every dog!

Update – One Year Later

See how Raven is doing in her new home >