In life, we sometimes need rescuing from something or someone and certainly can rescue someone else too…you know, a second chance.
If given the right care and a second chance, there is no such thing as a problem pup. Our first post in the new year is about believing in second chances. It is about overcoming several odds to stick with a rescued dog. It is about Grumpy’s journey to becoming Oreo, overcoming the sadness of being abandoned to feeling safe again and being able to love again.
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When we first met Oreo and I started approaching him, his human sibling Nayonika quickly warned me to not touch him. Most often I fail to restrain myself from hugging random dogs, so for a second, I thought what could a harmless little furball of a Shih Tzu possibly do? Nayonika said that Oreo will bite and that she has been bitten not once but several times.
More recently, I learnt about Oreo’s back story from his favourite humans Vandana – his momma – and Nayonika. I learnt how Oreo still suffers from separation anxiety and at the same time how sudden movements and excessive physical contact make him uncomfortable. Vandana and Nayonika always try their best to prevent a stray accident – for them, every accident is like regressing 10 steps in their journey with Oreo. Being first-time dog people, they have had their fair share of trials.
The first trial was to convince the family about adopting a dog. Second, the dog that landed up in their lap was scarred and needed a lot of care and positive reinforcement. Third, they are still clueless about Oreo’s past experiences, except that a family had decided to give him up. At some point during our conversation, I asked Nayonika if she was ever scared after Oreo bit her. “Every time Oreo bit me, I would cry, not out of pain but thinking of the slim possibility of being asked to give him up. Mom and I also knew that we could not be hostile towards Oreo; the only way forward was to give him time and help him to trust again.”
To Vandana, giving him up was not even an option. No matter how many doggy beds or bedsheets Oreo ripped apart, no matter how many times he bit Nayonika. “I was greatly concerned about Nayonika’s safety as well as other family members. At one point, we had stopped inviting guests because Oreo was very unpredictable. Eventually, we took Oreo to canine behaviouralists who told us several things about regulating our emotions and actions rather than corrective measures for him, which have been quite effective.”
It has taken Vandana and Nayonika years and a lot of patience to get Oreo to where he is today. Oreo has also shown the courage to love again. He is still anxious; he tends to be territorial; he can still snap occasionally but the incidents are fewer. He is now comfortable around guests and, in fact, had a day out in the desert on the new year’s with family and friends.
Besides being feisty – they say a small dog seldom understands his size – Oreo is quite smart. He knows the route Vandana takes to drive home, and when out on his walks with Nayonika, after reaching a certain turn, he refuses to move. “It seems like Oreo wants to wait there until mom comes home. Oreo adores mom and vice versa.”
We are also told that Vandana is guilty of prioritising Oreo over Nayonika. “If on a certain day, I am quite unwell and Oreo has not eaten one meal properly, he gets all the attention from mom, not me.” 😉 It is this unconditional love that has turned Grumpy – the given name by the rescue agency – to Oreo. Yes, his coat resembles the colour of Oreo biscuits.
His name might be Oreo, but his preferred snack is cheese – a common love that Oreo and his human dad share. The moment Oreo hears his human opening the cheese drawer in the fridge, he darts to the spot with his pupper face. Almost every evening Oreo and his dad are found snacking on cheese, but with mothership around everything is done in moderation.
Oreo is 5.5 years old and has been living in Dubai with his humans for the past 3.5 years. If you know of a similar story of a second chance, we are all ears. Wish you a happy, kind and pawsome 2021.