On October 7th, 2018 Mike and I headed to PAWS to visit with the adoptable dogs. After meeting with all of the dogs and walking a handful of them, we had a dog in mind to adopt, but someone else was considering adopting him as well. While we were waiting to see how the other families meet and greet with this dog would go, we were approached by one of PAWS adoption specialists. She asked if we had met Felicity yet. We told her we had but we were looking for a high energy dog who would enjoy going on long hikes. She told us, Felicity would be perfect, she’s just a little shy and suggested we go visit with her again. We took her suggestion and went out to meet Felicity again. While we were sitting there talking to Felicity’s foster mom, Felicity approached me and wrapped her paws around my neck in a hug. I knew she had picked us, this was what we were hoping for, a dog to pick us, not for us to pick them. I don’t recall who the adoption specialist was who sent us to Felicity, but you made an incredible match up and we are extremely thankful for that.
While it was a challenge to get Felicity into our car to take her home, after a few minutes in her new house, she made herself right at home. She very quickly started playing and seemed very comfortable with us. Although, we had plenty of challenges ahead of us. The next three months would be an extreme adjustment period that we were not quite prepared for.
Felicity’s past is a complete mystery, we do not know what she went through or how she had been treated. We do know that she was terrified of leashes and collars, she was not a huge fan of strangers, especially anyone that reached for her head or reached too quickly for her. We worked vigorously over the next few weeks to get Felicity used to collars and leashes. We would also spend the next 6 months working in housetraining. Even though we would let Felicity out every hour and take her for walks, she would hold it until she no longer could, which could be up to 12 hours and she would finally go in the house. When we finally successfully got her to pee outside, she would only pee in that same spot and this went on for weeks, we would have to walk her to the same spot every day. We would work on housetraining over the next 6 months until we were finally accident free. When housetraining a new dog it is important to know that all accidents are never the dogs’ fault. As a new pet parent make sure you learn the signs that your dog may need let out and let them outside frequently. To this day we are accident free! While Felicity still doesn’t know how to tell us that she needs to be let outside, we’re always on top of letting her outside now that we have learned her schedule/set a schedule for her. Felicity is a very schedule-oriented dog.
Felicity has always been a little unsure of new people. She would prefer to sniff you out first, and then maybe you can pet her. After taking her to the dog park to walk the perimeter a few times to see how she reacted to other dogs from afar along with other slow introductions to dogs, we took her to the dog park to play. We learned very quickly that she was extremely comfortable at the dog park and this was the only place where she was comfortable with strangers. Between the dog park and taking her to stores that allow pets she slowly started to warm up to people. It only took over 2 years but now she gets more excited about people than dogs and even kids aren’t so scary. She looks forward to her daily walks to visit her favorite neighbors.
Rescue dogs come with plenty of quirks and we just have to do our best to boost their confidence while they learn how to trust people again. Felicity is still terrified of smoke detectors (even just the low battery beep), fireworks, plastic bags, training when she doesn’t understand what is being asked of her, and dogs that are bigger than her. I’m sure there are plenty more. But the most rewarding part is to be able to see a rescue dog gain their confidence back as they become a part of your family and you gain their trust.
While adopting may not be for everyone, I hope everyone will at least consider it. Be prepared to have a lot of patience during their adjustment period. Of course, you will need a lot of patience if you take the route of getting a puppy or kitten also. Not all rescue pets come with the same challenges as Felicity, she just happens to be a very sensitive dog but watching her gain confidence and trust has been so incredibly rewarding. There is something extra special about the bond you create with a rescue pet.