by Kimberley Matchem
Kimberley is a fellow pet blogger. We found each other through a site called Blogpaws and I asked her to share a guest post with us. Her blog is called Confessions of a Rescue Mom.
Everyone has their own adoption stories, but today I want to tell you about his. In 2011, we were in the process of filling our new home with a dog. We knew a puppy was out of the question. We stopped by our local animal shelter a few times a week, checking out the dogs and getting to know them. There, in the third kennel on the right, I locked eyes with him. He was shy, scared; and silent; a dog who wouldn’t come anywhere near me. The kennel attendant took him out into the main yard so I could hang out with him. He followed the kennel attendant everywhere like a lost dog.This boy had something different about him! He was German Shepherd, with big, brown, root-beer colored eyes. After visiting him for a while, I felt something that made me want to give this dog a better life. You see, he was a stray who got adopted out into a family, and brought back in under a week. We found out he had canine epilepsy, so we asked some questions and did some research. We then filled out an adoption form, and it was approved a few days after. To celebrate a new life, we sent his old name packing and welcomed newly-named Rolo to our family.
I hate to say it, but Rolo didn’t like us, and I wasn’t going to give up until I earned his trust. I can’t say I have ever had a dog who didn’t like me, so this was different, and I was not going to push him out of his comfort zone. He needed time. He also decided he wanted to live in the basement for a few months, until he came around and discovered his bedroom—complete with doggie bed, decorative pillows, and blanket awaiting him upstairs. I put a routine into place to help him get a sense of familiarity. We also did daily training sessions with positive reinforcement and bits of treats, as he is very treat motivated (which helped).
The first little bit was all about working with our key words associated with hand signals, and that, in the long run, would make everything easier. “Good Boy” and “Yes” are the words I chose to associate with great behavior, which means he got some scratches, praise, and treats. As he learned when he did something bad, the tone of my voice and pulling my pointer finger out and pointing it at him saying “Bad” and “No” were “mommy’s mad” words. I can’t say I have used the You’re In Trouble Words too often, but he knows when I am not happy with his actions, and he is really good at correcting himself.
Rolo inspired me to start a pet blog that is now being read all over the world. One thing we love to promote is animal adoptions and tell people of our story. Some people may give up after that one-week trial period with a pet.
I have learned that having an animal get comfortable to a new routine and surrounding doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time and work, but it is so rewarding once that animal opens up to you, especially an older dog.
When people see us now-a-days, they don’t believe me when I say that he didn’t even like me at first. The bond we have created with each other is indescribable and I am forever grateful for his companionship. Rolo and I took our bond to the next level and used our social media to fundraise for his former shelter. From June 2012 to December 2014, we have been able to donate $10,000 in monetary and material items for them through our various events and fundraisers. The sky is the limit and we will keep on reaching our goals…together!
Check out more pet stories and articles in our Pet Perspective section, including a column from Fresno Bully Rescue every other month. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Fresno Bully Rescue.