The other day, Tasha tried really hard to play with another dog in the apartment complex. She scared the dog and the dog attacked. Of course, because Tasha’s leash had gotten out of my hand 2 seconds before she went bolting over to the other dog, Tasha was blamed for the incident, even though the other dog had no scratches while Tasha was limping the next day with a small puncture wound on her leg and some scratches near her mouth. When the building manager “kindly” let me know there was a report about the incident (because apparently she had gotten more than one report about Tasha attacking other dogs–NOT true), she asked me if I regret taking Tasha in. Answer: no.
I do not regret saving a life. Tasha was the dog who had been at the rescue for over a year because of her issues. She had clearly been abused and had been found on the streets in a very low income area, all before the age of 1. She was highly anxious and highly reactive. Every little thing would set her off. Because of her high energy breed, she would unleash her energy in a massive explosion that if you didn’t know what was going on would leave you fearing for your life. But, she was not a monster. She was never a monster. She was a sweet, battered soul crying out for help in the only way she had learned how. So do I regret giving her a chance? No.
Slowly, her confidence built. She let her guard down here and there and would even play with LD. She would still react but would hit an 8 or 9 instead of a 10. She would still react, but we could break through to the dog underneath the tantrum. She still didn’t act like a dog though. She would fixate on things with her eyes instead of leading with her nose. She didn’t play with anyone except LD and even then it was play for 10 seconds calm down for the next 15. She would never walk under any furniture and would make sure she could see all of her surroundings. People were not welcome unless she knew them. Do I regret having patience with her? No.
As time went on, Tasha became more open. She began to use her nose to explore our apartment, looking for leftover food after eating time or for little treats I would hide for her. She started playing hide and seek with me, where she would wait until I called her and then she would have to find me. On our walks she was able to walk past men working on the roofs of the houses without barking. Still fixating, but moving forward. We even started working on her fear of water. I would sit in the shower for hours at a time feeding her cheese as she got closer or more relaxed in the place she was. Eventually, she would enter the shower stall and sit there waiting for her next treat. She has yet to actually like the water, but she will now tolerate it. Do I regret building her trust? No.
About 3 months ago, she had a major breakthrough. She actually played with her cousins. LD’s sister and her friend have two puppies. Tasha actually decided to wrestle with the bigger of the two puppies and was so happy to do so that in the middle of playing, she threw up. Soon afterwards, we brought her along to a big party of about 50 people and carried her for the entire afternoon. She was tired at the end, but she had a blast. She was uncertain of the little boys running around and was trying to subdue her instinct to chase the boys, but she loved a certain 9 year old girl who called her “Captain Princess Kissy Face” and would carry her around. Do I regret celebrating her accomplishments? No.
At this point, Tasha is willing to play with me frequently. She will even bring over her ball to either LD or I to throw when she is bored. She now loves chilling underneath the coffee table or kitchen table and gets excited to see certain family members that don’t live with us. She is excellent with my autistic nephew and tries to guide him through his insecurities. When we go for walks, she still reacts to dogs and people who walk past us on the other side of the street, but the reaction is only for about 5 seconds and then she is ready to move on. She even walked within 10 feet of a lawn mower yesterday without barking. I can’t say she was calm, but she didn’t go over that threshold. So, yes, she had a slip up where she wanted to play rough with a little dog and did not pay attention to the warnings that the dog wanted nothing to do with her. And, yes, she still has some issues, but she is closer to being a balanced dog than a lot of the dogs at our apartment building. The problem is her issues are less socially acceptable, but do I regret saving her life? Definitely not.