“I’ve volunteered at Dogs4Resuce for about 2 years, mostly working with the feral / semi feral / scared dogs (everyone knows Tiger!).
I first seen Monty in June this year when he arrived from Cyprus Dog Rescue the day before. He was in a room and no one had been able to touch him. Knowing that not only was he semi feral, but also black in colour, he would not stand much chance of been adopted, or even fostered out. I spent a little time in the room and was able to gently stroke him, however he was shaking with fear.
A few weeks later I decided I would foster Monty. Myself, Emma and Lou we were to able guide him into a cage so that he could be carried to my car. The look of fear in his eyes was so sad to see, he honestly had no idea what was going to happen to him.
Arriving at my home I brought him in side to introduce him to my wife, Milly, and dog Tae. He was still in the cage hiding in the corner, looking at the floor. When dealing with dogs with such fear of humans it’s important to give them space initially. I opened the cage door and waited. Fast forward 30 minutes and he started to poke his head out, smelling toward Tae. He then followed Tae outside in to the back garden. This is great I thought, he’s following Tae! Now time to shout Tae to come back inside…. Tae comes running through… no Monty. Long story short it took me 30 minutes to be able to guide him towards the door, at which point he run inside back into his cage.
After a few days he would no longer hide in the cage, however would still not come back inside once he had been in the garden. This is where patience comes in….. The door was open with me besides it and he stood there very still. He really wanted to be with Tae, but to get to Tae he had to not only go past me, but also the scary washing machine and tumble dryer!
After 5 minutes of standing still and avoiding eye contact he put a paw inside the house. A few minutes later the second paw, a few minutes after that he bolted in side as fast as Usain Bolt could have! This was massive progress and I knew that with repetition and patience he would eventually be coming inside even without Tae. Fast forward 3 weeks he’s the first dog through the door!
Despite all this progress, touching him would still cause him to shake with fear. Feral or semi feral dogs have sometimes seen humans do unimaginable things to dogs. Getting them to trust is not easy. I tried using treats, which he would take, but he would still not let me even rest a finger on him without bolting or physically shaking.
At this point it can be tempting to think “he will never trust me”, “he is not rehomable”. Sometimes people feel cruel when they see a dog in such fear – shaking – looking at the floor, so they stop doing the thing that puts them in that state. This stops the shaking in that instance, but it doesn’t help them to trust. They have to learn that we mean no harm and this is only achieved by repetition. After a around 6 weeks I could stroke him without issue and in fact he now comes to me and paws me for a stroke. A few weeks later he trusts me and Milly enough that we can now take him for lead walks.
Fostering a dog is so rewarding. It can be either for a day or for months, but it all helps. It gives the dog experience of every day life. Seeing a dog starting to trust you and bond with you is the best feeling in the world.
I often have people tell me “I would feel bad just taking the dog for a few days then having to take him back”. This is so far from the truth, the dogs love the fostering experience but they also love arriving back at the rescue to see all their friends!
Milly and I have now officially adopted Monty 😊 We are also looking to adopt another dog in the future, 3 is the magic number as Emma always tells me!”