In the years I have been living with a very fearful dog I have often thought that shelters and rescue groups that adopt out dogs like Sunny are doing a disservice to the people looking for a pet, and ultimately to the rescue industry. I hear people say that they will ‘never adopt a dog again’ after having a negative experience with a dog which they adopted from a shelter. Fearful dogs are just not good for business if you want people to return in the future for another of your ‘products’.
When you speak to other adopters of fearful or shy dogs they have a different tale to tell. They talk about how much they adore their dog, how the dog changed their life, taught them lessons, how they cannot imagine a life without their dog, despite the challenges.
Sunny came into my life when I had the time and inclination to see what progress I could make with him. He has both frustrated and delighted me. I have come to realize that if I witnessed any person display the courage Sunny displays on a daily basis I’d label them ‘inspirational’. When Sunny chooses to remain in a room with someone that frightens him, or finally gets himself through the tire in agility class, he’s showing the kind of courage I rarely need to muster.
Life isn’t easy for a dog that was not properly socialized, and living with one isn’t easy either. I still believe that the time and energy required to help a fearful dog can be more than many of us have to offer, but when paths cross, planets align or the pieces just fall into place, these dogs don’t just change our lives, they change our hearts as well.
Change of Heart by Holly Near