May 11th, 2013 our 1st rescue from SGRR, Cody, lost his battle with cancer. He lived 10 of his 12 years out with us. He was the most wonderful dog anyone could hope for. A week later, I made the call. A lovely lady with a British accent called us. I told her we were ready to adopt and was interested in a very shy boy in Tulsa named Lincoln. He didn’t like his picture taken but we wanted to meet this special boy. Pam set up a meet. She warned us that he was very shy and was one of five puppy mill breeders SGRR rescued in Missouri. He was fearful of going outside and came up to me but would not get close to my husband. I could tell Pam had her doubts.
We went to see a wonderful boy across town who had the best set of chompers I had ever seen on a dog. He was a cooper color as well and was very social and played appropriately. I knew he would get adopted quickly. I told Pam that Lincoln was our guy.
We picked him up on June 6th, 2013 in Tulsa. Pam reassured us that if it didn’t work out, the foster would keep him. We assured her that wasn’t necessary. He rode home in “his” hummer which he has become inseparable with. He hid in the smallest nook he could fit in. I would get in the floor and become very small just to get him up to me. It took about two months for him to be comfortable with men.
He wouldn’t eat treats, knew nothing of toys, he had an old ripped ball he would carry around but that was it. I realized very quickly that the everyday noises we hear and find commonplace, frightened him horribly. I brought the one thing that he knew into the living area, his crate. We started out with him in the crate just getting used to the “normal” noise and activity.
He was afraid of going outside, it was so overwhelming. We immediately started formal potty training. Structuring all his meals and activities, tethering him to me so he could see what I was doing in different areas of the house. We started walking outside and walking our perimeter inside and outside of our house. It took so much patience but slowly we saw progress.
I became his mentor. Showing him how to squeak a toy and carry it. How to do everyday dog things. I started communicating with a trainer via email but really learned we were doing the same thing just by a different technique. We started instilling prey drive and then his world opened up. He found interest in his toy rabbits. Soon he came across a real rabbit on a walk and he barked and pulled on the leash to give chase. We cheered. Time to reprogram was here.
Desensitizing would continue but we could move on. Pam continued to follow Lincoln’s progress. Lincoln’s first SGRR picnic was three months after rescue. Pam didn’t immediately recognize him. He wasn’t fearful. We had taught him to get his negative energy out and move forward to see what’s new. No one saw him getting his negative energy out at the gate but once inside he almost looked confident.
A year and a half into his transformation, we went to meet with a gentlemen who presented two Brittany pups to him. The little male ran and hid but the little girl touched noses with him and away we went home with a 5 lb ball of fierceness. It took Reagan three days to get Lincoln to play. Reagan, now a year, has completed Lincoln’s evolution into a dog. This year at the picnic, Pam nor Tom recognized Lincoln. His tail was up, head held high and a hello for everyone. Some even got the Golden nudge to pet me.
Now, he still has days that he swears we brought home the devil but the two are quite a pair. His favorite thing to do is go to the dog park. He runs in, barks a few times for good measure, rolls in the grass, then it’s off to explore and play. He goes a ways from me now but always comes running when called. He no longer fears normal day to day things. We even conquered storm anxiety and nail guns used for roofing. Fireworks are the last fear to conquer and we are getting there.
2 1/2 years into his transformation and he loves everyone to include children. Once terrified of small children now he teaches them how to properly approach and interact with dogs. Amazingly, he has learned to alert me when I’m about to have an anaphylactic reaction. We accidentally learned while on a walk, I tripped and fell to the ground, that he will assume a protective stance over me, check to see if I’m breathing then start seeking help. Lincoln has proved that with the right training, love, trust and patience any dog is capable of great things.
Lincoln and Reagan both appreciate all SGRR and its volunteers do for these awesome dogs because ultimately, it’s us humans who benefit.
Tracy & Paul