Rescue Journal

the shoe is now on the other foot (or paw)

Carol  ·  Jan. 7, 2014

final post on figuring out the problem child thing.

when I use examples of things like meds, crates, obedience training, extra exercise etc as not the ultimate and final solution to underlying animal problems. I am not suggesting they can't be used as tools to help the animal along the way. they are fine for use as tools but they are not solutions. solutions come when the goal is to help the animal heal not just to make them do or don't do something that we want.

can you imagine if a "higher " species took you in hand when your head and heart were messed up and trained, manipulated, medicated, confined, exercised you to behave in a way that they thought you should behave. what if they failed to recognize that you did not understand what was happening to you, what if they ignored the fact that you had developed particular coping mechanisms in your lifetime to protect you from harm? what if they were oblivious that you were suffering from pain, or previous traumatic episodes, or feelings of abandonment, betrayal, abuse, neglect, fear, uncertainty, even just missing the family you knew and loved? what if all they seemed to see about you was how you behaved?

having said all I get all gobblity gooped about all of the sad shit that has gone on in these animals lives before they got here? not really. I may feel badly for what they came from but my job is to help them navigate safely into the future. my job is to understand them, not necessarily to smother them in sympathy so they can continue to feel like victims. I want them up on their feet, feeling safe inside and strong enough within themselves to venture out into life again... be it here or in a new and better home.

I don't see that it's my job to turn the animals in my care into perfect pet specimens. I see my job as helping them feel they are ok with who they are...even if who they are happen to be dickheads. this means I have to accept them for who they are at each step of their journey. did jesse stop biting because he got old? or did jess cease to bite because he no longer needs too? I don't know..i just know jesse rarely bites anymore, only he knows the real reason.

in the 8 years that phoebe has been here, is she better because she is older and wiser? I don't think so because she is still on big time drugs and wisdom is not her strong suit. but I do know she has greatly mellowed *(for her) over time. phoebe knows she fits here, she has a very solid place in many hearts..that's got to help her feel safer (and saner.)

I think most animals heal themselves if they can find the safety and security of feeling valued and acceptance. I think many animals may take a long time to finally get there and traditional shelters and rescues cannot always give them the amount of time that they need.

and this is another reason why saints is unique...we have all of the time in the world. no one has to go anywhere until they are ready. it took morgan two years to trust me enough to let me touch her, now she swats me in retribution when I try to nudge her face or her paws away from my dinner.

is she the perfect pet?..hell no, she pees on the couch and the cat beds. but she thinks she is pretty damn ok and who am I to argue?

morgan changed the belief that she held so dearly...that humans were not to be trusted and she was at risk whenever in their vicinity. now humans are to share their dinner and if reluctant to do so they deserve a good smack on the hand to enlighten them again.

oh my freaking god! that little pushy miss is trying to train ME..the shoe is on the other foot now!



Very well said, Carol. I've had Katie for over six years. She was terrified of the whole world when I got her. It has been a very slow process but she's a confident, sassy monkey at home now. Strangers, especially men, she meets on walks are still pretty scary though.

Bunny Horne

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Right on, Shawn. You just have to accept them, give them a stable safe place and let time do its magic. Cali, who has been here since late September, is gradually coming around. She doesn't come to me but I can stroke her now and love her up a bit. She still has the occasional cranky fit ( got a couple of fang marks in my hand this morning) but then I just back off and let her have her space. Maybe she isn't a morning person or maybe she isn't feeling well. She meows at me sometimes now which she never did in the beginning and then I go in and pet her.


Carol what you said about animals healing when they find safety and acceptance couldn't be more true when it comes to Norm ( aka charm). Just the other day Kevin and I were talking about how he has changed over the year. In his blindness and deafness, we have figured out he loves us. I think it was tough for him. He shied away from attention, but now he sits with us and he is always within a foot of me. Never one to be washed, brushed or looked after, he will endure it (lol). This lil guy has learned to open a door and get into our pantry....well there are treats. He sometimes, not often, poops in the house but he thinks he has done was by the door after all. He frolicks when he knows he has done something he is proud of and heads to the treats of course. He now wags his tail and will give kisses. We feel truly blessed to give this amazing, sweet dog a home. He has found acceptance for who he is and we love him for all he is, his past, and his future . Thank you Carol for rescuing him and bringing him to SAINTS . Thank you for letting us bring him to our home; he brings a smile to my face everyday...accepting him for who he is and for who he was