12.31.2009

Hank - The story


Hank was a puppy mill dog. Though he's only been a live a bit over a year, he's had little exposure to the outside world - to people, new dogs, and the wonderfulness that is living with a mom and dad who are going to shower you with treats and squeaky toys.

Our journey so far has been intense. We've just passed Week 2, and with it has come some progress. For the first week, Hank's fear allowed him only to sit on the floor, cower, and hide his face. He'd press his little black nose in to anything that was in front of him - totally avoiding both me and the Drummer. He didn't move for hours, barely ate or drank, and had to be forced out the door to try and use the bathroom.

Walking was the first key to Hank's progress. We started really pushing him out the door, and walking him with a lot of speed and purpose. At first, though he followed us, he'd cower when anything passed- people, cars, etc - and sometimes, he'd flip around, jump, and try to escape his collar. I combated this with simple leadership. Eventually, he let that go and continued without the fear.

The second key has been exposure to people and dogs. The more time we spend at other houses with other people and dogs, and with others here, the more he opens up. He is inquisitive and gentle with new people and animals - although he's quick to correct when necessary. He follows me wherever I go if there are others around.

He has begun to bond to me, which has come with both rewards and challenges. He has not bonded with the Drummer, so he perceives him at times to be a threat to our pack. He will growl at him, when he comes home or comes too near to me. Of course, we're working on this - but it remains a little funny to me that anyone think of the Drummer as a threat :D Hank is not aggressive, but fearful and not confident, so the protection comes along with that. He'll progress.

I have been really unable to write about this process until now. I have been overwhelmed with the emotions and trials of this process. I knew that he would be damaged - quite damaged - but I didn't know that it would have been this bad. There were times when I thought I didn't have the strength to work with him, when I didn't know where to start.

I've always known it's better to rescue a dog - but with rescue, you get emotional baggage that you didn't install. This dog was damaged by some jerk somewhere else, and he's only acting on his fear of what's been done in the past. We're uninstalling some major issues and this will take major time. On the other hand, this dog would have been euthanized in the shelter, because no one would have taken him home. We're giving Hank a second chance at life, a young life, and with time and patience, he will make it.

I have been frustrated because this dog doesn't speak - english, of course - and while that's obviously just frustration, I've been lead to better understand the universal language of energy. Trying to give out the best possible kind, not only to Hank, but to those around me. That's the real key to his success, and mine, actually. I have a feeling that by the end of this journey, I will have learned more than just how to really rescue an abused animal.

Hank in Green

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