imageDexter was my first real experience with a fearful dog. I had been studying Turid Rugaas’ literature on calming signals and canine communication, and lo-and-behold…I was given this dog by our fearless leader as my fourth foster dog.

I had taken her by surprise when I successfully lead Dexter out of his kennel within just minutes of meeting him, so she decided to send him home with me. His case is one of the worst I’ve seen yet.

At only 7 months old, and with a history of being abused, Dexter was petrified of humans-especially men. Dexter had made such great progress over his first week as my foster, that I decided to swing by an adoption event from which I was supposed to be absent because of a previously scheduled shift at work. I ended up being freed early from work and thought it might at least be worth a try just to see how well he might do. imageMuch to my surprise, he walked directly up to our fearless leader and begged for a pet; wiggling himself to the floor and flopping all around. I decided to stay and help out for the remainder of the event; hoping he might be adopted that day.

Sure enough…an adorable little family of three {a mother, her son who is around my age, and his daughter} fell in love with Dex at first sight. He was intended for the mother of the group as a type of therapy dog while she recovered from major back surgery, and as a replacement for a dog they had recently lost. It was perfect. Dexter even liked her son and climbed all over him for kisses. imageUnfortunately…although we were confident that Dexter would do well with this family, I got a call about a month later. Dexter’s new mom called me with a shaky voice and said that Dexter was not doing well. While he was comfortable with her, and attached at the hip; he was having issues with her son. Contrary to his behavior on the day of his adoption, Dexter was still very scared of men, and his issues had even grown into a fear of any new people.

I made arrangements to pick the little guy up, and found placement for the Forster I had at the time. When I arrived at the home to pick up Dexter, he cowered and hid from me. He would not approach me even for a sniff. I was almost brought to tears in this family’s living room. I used to be Dexter’s favorite person. He would follow me everywhere and wrestle and play with me. My dear sweet dog now saw me as a stranger, and this sweet family was left heartbroken…unable to even start fixing dexters issues.

I decided that I needed to keep Dexter in my care for a longer amount of time. I wanted to be sure that he was set up for success with his next family. Dexter stayed with me over the next two weeks, and made very good progress. He slowly came out of his shell, and reverted back to the wonderful dog I had adopted out to the first home.imageDexter now has two little kids to play with {this is wonderful, because dogs seem to sense very well the innocence of children and are more trusting with them}, and two parents who have the time and skill to work with him on his confidence and trust.


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