All of us who have known Hunter since he came to ARF in November 2008 knew very well that he is a loving, devoted and sensitive guy but his shyness has grown since he came to the shelter and has kept him from setting foot outside his run – even into the backyard for fun. With this level of shyness he was in no position to flirt with a prospective new forever human… Hunter had been at ARF for over a year and a half and was getting more and more fearful of the world outside his run. We had to change things for him or he would have spent the rest of his life in that run.
A call went out to my students and good doggie folk in the area and Linda, Feef, Pat and Vicky stepped up to be Hunter’s Helpers. Each of Hunter’s Helpers worked with their skill-sets to help Hunter increase his confidence, joy, and allow his loving nature to expand to more and more people. Vicky and Pat increased his confidence via clickers and massages. While Linda and Feef increased his social network via their relatives and friends who came along to meet Hunter and show him the world is full of nice people – who, by the way all seem to have cheese and hot dogs on them at all times…
His dedicated regular volunteers continued to help Hunter’s Helpers by doing walk-alongs (especially Pete and Charlotte) so Hunter could become happy and used to new people. Great thanks must also go to the volunteer staff at ARF who by continuing to take care of Hunter’s needs as well as the needs of the rest of the animals at ARF allowed Hunter’s Helpers to focus specifically on the behavioral work. Sometimes it takes a Village to help a dog in need, too.
Although Hunter is not yet completely “cured” he is doing much better and working now on transitioning to Feef’s home as his forever home – yeah!!! Remember the dog who would not leave the safe confines of his run or the back room where his run is located? Barb reported to me the following just the other day:
YESTERDAY WAS GRADUATION DAY FOR HUNTER !!
The last dog to be walked last night was Hunter… He was acting itchy, carrying on…
I had the leash in my hand, then opened his gate… He came flying out…ran out to the kennel, stood there…saw the front door open… ran out !!!! Across the parking lot…. down the driveway…to the back “40”…..Flo was standing in the lot talking on the phone…. her mouth dropped open…. we both went to the back… Hunter was walking back to the shelter, sniffing all the brush…wagging his tail….went right by us and back to the shelter…all the way back and jumped in his room !!!! WOW !! How exciting !!
We went at a pace that worked for Hunter and allowed him to slowly learn new people are good and maybe even as good as his two favorites Pete and Charlotte. We gave Hunter some special attention in the form of calming massages. We taught Hunter via clicker training that he can actually control aspects of his world. By doing all of this Hunter has blossomed and is no longer looking at spending the rest of his life in his run at ARF. While ARF loves all of their dogs as their own and cares for them with special kindness – it is still not a forever-home.
Hunter, his Helpers and all the Volunteers at ARF are a shining example of just how much we can help a dog in need find a life of happiness and joy!