A- is, or rather, was, a dog at the local shelter where I volunteer. She was a white German Shepherd who came to the shelter at about 2 years of age. I’m recording my experience of her here because I do not want to forget her. A- came to us as an overweight and under socialized dog. She weighed in at about 90 pounds, but probably should have been no more than 75 pounds. She was beautiful, but oh, so very stressed. I don’t know much about her background other than that she was acquired as a puppy by a person who wanted a dog but who traveled extensively for his/her work, and so left A- crated at home for far too many hours each day. No wonder A- never stood a chance.
The person who owned her finally realized that this wasn’t a good solution for a large and intelligent dog that needs both physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis, and so gave her up to our shelter. I could have cried. A- did not take well to the shelter’s kennel environment. The kennel environment is tough for most dogs, but for A- it was particularly bad. She couldn’t eat her meals inside her kennel, she spread her water everywhere inside the kennel, and despite the enrichment toys that were given her, she couldn’t relax enough, ever, to stop her stress-panting. She was hot from too much fur that had never been brushed out. We bathed her, we introduced her to a little paddling pool, we brushed her, we took her for walks, we massaged her, we spoke to her, and we spent calm-time with her playing music such as “Through a Dog’s Ear”. Her outings were good, although her stress levels never got low enough for any of us to actually start training her. She barked at other dogs, but more as an over-excited dog rather than as an aggressive dog. She was good with people.
She had a life for two years, but never got given the opportunity to live it. Why are we humans so awful at failing our charges?
I did cry.