April 10th, 2016, we received a call from the dog wardens about five puppies they had just picked up and wanted to place in our care for an upcoming adoption event, (the pound has two adoption/fundraiser events every year, this is the one time when puppies are adopted out directly from the pound). These five Shepherd mixes had a sad past to say the least, the dog warden had received a call about five puppies that were running in the road, the caller was worried they were going to get hit. When the dog warden arrived, they found the pups had been caught by their owner, (neighbor to the caller), but wanting to know more the warden went to talk to the owner, before coming to the door however, the warden saw the puppies behind the house and it was truly a horrible sight; The puppies were in a tiny pen, barely big enough to fit two puppies much less five, and the footing under them was nothing but feces and mud, they had no water or food. The warden got the owner to sign the pups over and took them away. We were called shortly after this and went to pick them up. When we arrived, they were hiding in the back of their cage, scared and covered in mud and feces, they were a sad sight and had obviously had very little handling. After getting them home they were put straight into the tub for a much needed bath, their near panic and the almost black water running off of them told us they had never had a bath in their lives before this one. After being put into their new area, they all quickly fell asleep.
They slept most of the first day, but in the moments they were awake it became clear that their neglect went beyond just lack of handling. Because they had to fight for everything before, they all had the beginnings of food aggression, they had no idea how to share their toys or play together without fighting, leashes and collars were a strange and scary thing, and every new sound made them cower. The only good thing in all of this was the fact that they were still young enough to be worked with, though even this wasn’t ideal since they were already about 4 months old, and it wasn’t going to be as easy as it might have been with young pups. Collars were put on them directly, and they quickly begin to adjust to wearing them. They begin learning manners when eating their food, and they got to experience grass for the first time, which they loved.
By the end of the day they were already well on their way to becoming normal, happy puppies around people, trusting us a lot more. Over the next week the puppies settled into their new life, and things changed very quickly, the beginning food aggression was corrected, they stopped having fights constantly, and they begin to play together. By the end of their first week, all distrust was gone and they greeted us with wagging tails and happy faces. Their fear of new things slowly begin to diminish and they started to show interest in new things.
They had come to me for two weeks before we took them to the event, and it was amazing to see how much of a change can happen in such a short time. The event came and they did amazingly, greeting everyone with wagging tails, walking on leash like champs, and enjoying seeing all the new things. All of the puppies found homes that day too! Each and everyone of them were sitting politely for attention and everyone continually commented on their manners and friendly demeanor, no one would have believed that just two short weeks ago those same puppies were terrified and hiding from the world. Love and a little bit of work can go a long, long way!