It seemed the right time to write about the Life of Ellie…It has been six months now since her rescue.
The first time I saw her, covered in her waste, vomit, urine, shaking in the corner of a cage, there was something inside of me that just broke. There were several shelties coming in that day, to Rosie Animal Adoption, but there was something about her. From the moment I took her out of the cage, her skinny, shaking filthy body against mine, absolutely frozen with fear, that was it…she came home with me as my foster.
Once home, I realized just how damaged she was. No aggression, that was never an issue, just paralyzed with fear. She has obviously never lived in a home, and every noise from a phone ringing to a clock chiming scared her.
There were incidents of her hiding behind dressers and even digging a hole underside the mattress of the box spring and hiding in the between the springs, when I had taken her out of the crate to try and get her used to being out of a crate.
Shaking, always shaking, in the back of her crate, but that’s where she wanted to be. It was clear she would need medications.
Slowly she took steps, out of the crate, very slowly. Eli, my happy go lucky life is but a dream sheltie, was instrumental in getting her to come out …well grabbing her by the scruff off the neck and pulling her out seemed to work for him…come and play with me he exudes. He brought her all his toys, which she didn’t know how to play with, but oh so loved to hoard in the back of her crate. He spent hours serenading her, tail wagging, licking her. Please be my friend he would say. They started to play in that small crate, pulling at each other’s hair. I do see she finds comfort in him, and he so loves to play with her.
Getting her to eat was such a chore…. her fear even prevented her from voiding. On a good day she went only once a day. It took three days for her to void the first time. The nighttime was her friend. That is when she first started to take her first steps. Every little step was a major one for her. From standing out of her crate and asking me to pick her up onto the bed, to eating a full meal. Then all of a sudden she shut down again, wouldn’t eat, would not come out of her crate. I felt so discouraged. I almost gave up till that night she let me know she was still there, her little paw and nose reaching up through the crate next to my bed. The nighttime is still her friends, that’s when she comes alive, at 3 am, I hear her “squeak” her toys over and over…she feels safe in the dark…and uncomfortable in the daylight.
It’s been painfully slow, but at the same time, it is progress. Her favorite place is the bedroom…. but she has started taking steps now out of the room on her own into the hallway. She will sit in the living room, all be it with a look extreme displeasure on her face sitting in the corner of the sofa, just waiting for me to open the baby gate so she can run upstairs to the bedroom. She has started to walk out side, just on the grass, again, she doesn’t like it at all…but she knows to come along. She stands at the edge of the bed wanting to get picked up…. she has gone from staying on a mere ten seconds before jumping off and going back into her crate, to staying up to 15 minutes…usually with Eli there so they can play together…. pulling on each others ears and legs. She gives kisses now, copying what the others do…not sure at first, but she clearly see’s it is something we like.
In the past month, I noticed she play bows…and that is so adorable to see. She starts to play with the toys, trying to make them squeak as Eli does. You can see the excitement when she succeeds in her eyes. She mimics some of his behavior during play. I am not sure he is always the best one to mimic.
Her colitis has been a major struggle…but as her nerves have settled, so has her tummy. These dogs from “commercial breeders” are so stressed, that this tummy troubles are common. Her medications for this also continue.
Ellie never barked, ever…now she is a sheltie, and that is very odd…we thought she was debarked like one of the others. One day I walked away, and all of a sudden one sharp little bark…and total fear on her face that sound came from her mouth…so she does have a voice…I wonder when she will truly find it. She barked because I went down stairs…. she is forming bonds, she wants me to stay with her.
Training her is a chore I do admit. She is not food motivated at all…and that makes it much slower. You could hold out a steak bone and she still wont come out of the crate on her own …with this girl, constant praise, constant reassurance…. if I place my hand on her neck…she slowly crawls out of the crate and into my lap. She is usually shaking like a leaf in the wind…she knows I have come to take her out side for her business. She has also learned if she does what I want her to do the door opens and she can run back to her safety areas.
Yesterday I gave her a long pink piggy toy, that squeaks at both ends. She grabbed it and put it in her crate. Eli ran in and tried to take it. I watched them play tug of war; she was happy, truly happy. Her little eyes were bright.
She has a very long way still to go, but she is getting there, one small step at a time.
At the time she came, some one asked me, could she ever really make a good pet? I was a little offended by the question. What is a god pet? Is it an animal that does exactly what we want on command? Is it a dog that has no issues? Happy go lucky like little Eli? Is perfect related to her physical traits? Does she deserve a chance when she was made imperfect by the conditions she was housed in for two years before coming to a rescue? I do think she does. It doesn’t take much time to destroy an animal, or for that matter to destroy a human being, it takes time to build them back up. Will she ever be “perfect”…. she already is in my eyes. She is perfect in her courage to try…. to have faith in me that I will care for her.
Ellie came home as my foster, but she is staying as part of my family. She belongs here. She has found home.
Will you take in a less than perfect dog? Give them the courage to start again? If you do, you will know nothing but joy at each small accomplishment…. you will learn what rewarding truly feels like, and learn what unconditional love really is.
Suzannah J Vanson,
Dollard Des Ormeaux