While every dog story is special, sometimes we stumble upon rescue tailz that are truly uplifting. This is one such – about three rescued, and abused, dogs who finally found their forever home.
For many years now, on our walks with Mr. Popo, we notice a pair of beautiful dogs in a corner villa in our neighbourhood. I must admit feeling slightly intimidated every time I saw one of them peering down at us over the wall. A couple of times we have even come face to face with one of them, but from across the gate. And Popo had the guts to bark at a dog triple his size!
Being that crazy human who knows almost every dog in the neighbourhood by their name, I was naturally curious to know more about this pair. One day, recently, I spotted their human and could not stop myself from asking their names. I feel guilty about almost laughing out loud on hearing that one of them, a doberman-rottweiler mix is called Tiny. The other one, also a Doberman, is called Angel.
Maite, their human, told me they are rescues. And one of the dogs who I used to see earlier passed away a year ago. “He was our loving boy Snoopy, who was also a doberman. Snoopy’s story was fascinating. He was imported into the UAE to be a guard dog for one of the palaces but failed the aggression training. Sadly, he landed up in a shelter and stayed there until we found him. By the time we brought him home, he had cancer and passed away prematurely.”
After their experience with Snoopy, Maite and her partner Niels were keen to do their bit to raise awareness about and reduce the stigma against certain breeds, such as doberman, rottweiler and pit bull, among others. Often these breeds are trained to be aggressive and illegally used for dog fights and such other activities. And sadly, as a result, these dogs get branded as ‘aggressive’ not suitable for families.
“What we have learnt through experience is often these breeds are victims of unlawful activities. That is why we decided to adopt Snoopy, then Angel and more recently Tiny. Angel was severely abused in a puppy mill. She has developed debilitating liver disease, epilepsy and incontinence. We adopted her being mindful of the special care that she needs – almost every day she wets the bed despite trying her best not to. While Tiny was rescued from a farm in a famished state. He was chained and trained to be aggressive. He still displays aggression issues.”
Adopting is perhaps the first step in rehoming a dog. What comes next is positive reinforcement of the dog that is more challenging, especially if you choose to adopt a previously abused dog, requiring tremendous patience and love. So, every such decision must be well-thought-out.
“In our case, we adopted dogs that are strong, clever and abused. We knew there could be accidents. And accidents have happened as both Angel and Tiny have attacked us, but on evaluating every such incident we have realised what possibly went wrong. We have realised that both Angel and Tiny are extremely protective about food, space and even us. Sudden movements, abrupt show of affection and unfamiliar people make them anxious. Snoopy, however, was much different. So, there is never a one size fits all approach when it comes to what you might experience with a rescued dog. But one thing is certain – if you give a dog enough love and build trust, a second chance is seldom wasted.”
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From their experience of rehoming three rescues, Maite has shared some essential tips with us.
- Establish a pack hierarchy as soon as possible. Dogs are intelligent and may instinctively develop alpha tendencies, if not taught otherwise. This problem might become difficult to tackle at a later stage, especially if the dog is big in size.
- Always ask the human for permission before touching a dog. Never pet or touch a dog suddenly, especially rescues. You never know what they have gone through. They might associate various things with traumatic experiences and hence show aggression to protect themselves.
- Try to distract a dog if you want them to stop doing something instead of using physical power. For instance, if we want Angel and Tiny to stop chewing the TV remote, we show them a toy or a treat first as distraction and then slowly take the remote away.
Angel and Tiny live in Dubai, UAE with their humans Maite and Niels. Snoopy is their guardian angel.