A few weeks ago, I told you that I’d be writing about life lessons that I’m learning from our newest rescue dog, Luna. We adopted Luna from a rescue group when she was less than three months old. We noticed right away that she has a very shy and fearful personality. I should clarify that. She is shy and fearful around people. She loved Kali, our other dog, right away. She warmed up to me pretty quickly, but she was fearful of my husband. He couldn’t pet her. He couldn’t get her to follow him outside to go potty. She also wouldn’t get in the kennel for him.
You can see how this can be a big problem. I have to leave the house and can’t always be around to care for Luna. I have to go to work or run errands. When Luna is fearful of my husband, and anyone else, it’s hard to find care for her. We had hoped that she would follow and model Kali’s behavior. Kali loves my husband; she loves everyone and isn’t shy at all. But when our adult kids come over to visit, much to their dismay, Luna just runs away from them and quietly watches them from a corner.
The other issue was that Luna was terrified of the leash and whenever I would put it on her, she would frantically pull and try to get away. So if I had to take her to vet, I had to pick her up and carry her everywhere. She is now 34 pounds so again, you can see how this can be a problem.
This is where another life lesson comes in. Dogs aren’t perfect; people aren’t perfect. We all need love and grace from each other; and often times, we just need some time before we start to feel better about things. So we gave Luna her space; we told people when they came over to not approach her, to let her do her own thing. My husband let Luna make the first move and didn’t try to force anything.
Slowly, we started to notice improvements. Luna will jump up with excitement when David comes downstairs in the morning or when he gets up from work. He can walk up to her and pet her. He can play with her. Most of the time. She still will decide, “Oh yeah, I’m scared of this guy” and will run away from him, but these times are getting fewer and fewer. My youngest daughter, who will sometimes come over to let the dogs out when both my husband and I have to work, is now getting excited jumps and licks from Luna, although Kayla can’t pet her yet. Luna also seems to recognize my oldest daughter, too. She is still scared of both of my son-in-laws, though.
Last Friday, I decided to try out the doggie daycare option for the dogs, hoping that would help socialize Luna even more. The dogs had to go through a screening and even though Luna was absolutely terrified to be there, the staff felt that she would be okay and since she didn’t show any aggressive tendencies, they were willing to take her. On Monday, we did a half-day trial and the staff said she was great with the other dogs and didn’t seem quite as fearful as she was the first time. The dogs were welcome to come back any time. Whew!
Yesterday I took the dogs to the groomer and for the first time, Luna didn’t seem fearful when I put the leash on her and she RAN out to the car, like she was excited to be going somewhere. (Small gasp!) When we got to the grooming shop, I got both dogs out of the car and Luna walked to the shop door without me having to coax her, or pick her up and carry her. (BIG gasp!) Then when I picked them up, Luna was in her usual spot when she is nervous – in the corner – but when she saw that I was there, I could see her eyes light up and she started coming towards me.
GUYS, THIS IS HUGE. I didn’t have to pick her up and carry her. She let me put on her leash and then we were out the door and she headed straight to the car. She can’t quite jump in the car by herself like Kali, but I don’t think that day will be too far away.
It’s taken months, but we are slowly seeing progress and all it took was just some time, patience, love, and understanding. Luna will probably have moments of regression before she improves more, but that’s okay. She is growing and developing right before our eyes, and I still have to pinch myself that she is part of our family.
May your glass always be full,