As dog lovers, we understand that some shelter dogs are comfortable and outgoing with strangers, while other dogs take a while to warm up to us. Sadly, many times it is the shy, nervous dogs who must wait the longest for their forever homes because they need that extra patience and compassion to help them heal on their road to a normal life. Let us share with you one such story about a big hound dog adopted by a family who looked past first impressions into who he could become.
Meet Maynard. Maynard lived at NHES’ flagship facility, The Briggs Animal Adoption Center (BAAC), for over two years after being surrendered by an abusive and neglectful owner. He was scared and full of anxiety. For the first three years of his life, he had little or no social interaction, and any human interaction he did have was most likely negative and stressful. Thanks to the wonderful staff and volunteers at BAAC, Maynard was given a safe place to stay for as long as he needed.
It was difficult for Maynard to be adopted at first, because he developed what is known as kennel syndrome. Due to his traumatic past, seeing strangers walk past his kennel in the adoption center caused him to become frightened, so he would spin, jump, and bark incessantly at anyone who approached him. Many people assumed that he was too high-strung and aggressive. Once he was out of his kennel, however, he was always still, timid, and quiet. His true personality would begin to shine after spending several months in his new forever home. Just as we should never judge a book by its cover, we should never judge a dog in a kennel. After all, that is just their temporary home away from home!
The challenges of adopting a dog who has experienced trauma do not end on Adoption Day. On the contrary–Maynard was just beginning a new chapter, and there were many obstacles yet for him to overcome. For instance, it took two weeks for Maynard to understand how to climb stairs because he had never used them before. It took him another two months to learn where and when to use the bathroom. It was four months before Maynard felt comfortable enough to cuddle next to his parents on the couch rather than sleep alone on his dog bed. And after six months of training and practice, Maynard was finally excited to go for a walk around the neighborhood, instead of nervous.
Now, after nearly a year in his forever home, Maynard spends most of his days with his tail up and wagging rather than tucked and trembling. With the loving support of his compassionate and patient parents, the future is bright for this pup!
While Maynard’s story is special, it is not unique. Up to 90% of the animals waiting to be adopted at The Briggs Animal Adoption Center are previous victims of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Because it is hard to know what painful situations they came from, we must remember to be loving, compassionate, and patient with our new furry companions as we introduce them into their new homes. For some, it may only take a few weeks to adjust to a completely new world; for others, it could take several months to get acclimated and comfortable. But, as long as we remember to show them love and empathy, they will surely flourish.