Acquired: Rescue / shelter organization
Posted February 24, 2014
• My foster Aussie Cattle Dog that I helped save from hoarder
While working with dogs at our death row dog rescue, two good dogs came in from New Mexico. They were rescued from a hoarder who had seventy two dogs on a small property. Queenie, a shy, long tailed red heeler had spent five of her seven years in a crate just barely twice her size. This was a torturous way for any dog to live, but especially hard on a Cattle Dog.
She was the sweetest dog, expectedly wary of strangers, had no training at all, no usual dog knowledge like sit, come, stay, didn’t even know what a dog door was let alone how to use it. Sadly, even play and cuddling with people were totally foreign to her. She was a blank white board. Since she was so shy, I did not want to reprimand at all, rather every step was going to be a gentle nudge and reward system.
At the rescue, she would spend most of her time in a corner, longingly watching the play of others in an open yard. When I called her, she would hesitantly come my way, head lowered, tail slowly wagging. Every inch of her body language said she was shy, and had likely been reprimanded after she came when called. I had to make certain to heartily reward her with bright, happy, “GOOD come!” and rubs, treats. Making certain to talk to her often, even if it was a simple petting and softly saying her name every single time I passed her in the yard. By doing this, I slowly gained her trust. I wanted to turn her demeanor from demure and introverted to fully enjoying life. Once I had established that trust and fondness from her, I began slowly adding tasks to the rehabilitation program. I would call her to me, whether outdoors or through a dog door, and heartily reward her. I patiently taught her to sit then brightly rewarded that action with, ”Good sit!” rewarding the action, not the dog by name. It reinforced the action and the word itself. Her Cattle Dog intelligence and drive to perform a job made her a quick study. To further offer her the most rehabilitation and training, I took her and her ‘mate’ into my home as a foster. She could then learn how to act in a home and enjoy being a dog under the teachings of my balanced pack. I continued the gentlest of nudging to maintain her education of the basic training info to come, sit, and stay, down, off and so on. She learned, through keen observation of my dogs, how to sit and wait for her meals, how to use the dog door even where to relieve herself in the yard. She quickly became a comfortable family dog, enjoying the tasks she was given daily, the fact that she could come and go into my yard, even sleep outside a crate on a nice soft bed. And the first time she walked on and rolled in grass was a tear filled sheer joy to observe.
The time came when I determined that she would be better off in a home of her own. I found it terribly difficult to look into those warm eyes on that day, but she was ready to return to the rescue so she could go to adoption events and find her family.
I was not there the day she was adopted by a kind veterinarian, whom had another Cattle Dog of her own. I admit I was a little choked up the day I went in and her kennel was empty. I have seen Queenie since could see in her eyes that she is truly happy with her new brother and her loving human.