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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Beachy

Adopted - Welcome to the Beachy Pack Enzo!

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

A requirement to achieving my dog training certification is to volunteer at animal shelters, providing obedience training. This helps these sweet shelter pups become more adoptable. These pups have been through trauma; either they came from a really bad place, never experiencing love and family, or they just lost their family and sense of security. I had hesitation about volunteering because I knew it would break my heart to see these pups; they don't have anyone, working with them and bonding, then leaving felt like it would mess with my emotions too much. Gut-wrenching, right? I wish I had volunteered sooner, on my own motivation! The reality of my volunteering has actually been more rewarding than I had expected! I feel like I'm making a difference for these beautiful babies and providing human interaction, that perhaps they wouldn't have otherwise.

OK, now Enzo! Prior to beginning work at the shelter, an orientation is required. During my tour, we passed through a room that had dogs that were on hold for one reason or another. I laid eyes on Enzo and thought he was a puppy. He was roughly the size Clifford was when we brought him home at 8 weeks old! I imagined Enzo growing to the size of Clifford. Having experienced two large dogs that fought, Brian and I felt we are at our maximum for large dogs. So, while I was immediately drawn to this sweet baby, I didn’t even consider the thought of scooping him up! Brian and I had talked about a pocket-sized Bully to join our pack if one came along.

Fast forward a week, I was working with the dogs awaiting adoption. I saw Enzo again, and I was surprised he was in the adult dog room because I thought he was a puppy. I avoided his kennel because I knew I was going to want to take him home. I knew I couldn’t, figuring he was an older puppy, with plenty of growing to do. Looking back, then, another volunteer took Enzo out for a walk, and I was face-to-face with this sweetheart! So tender-loving, sad puppy eyes, and frightened by all the dogs barking. Enzo’s calm demeanor amazed me in such a chaotic environment; dogs are constantly barking and jumping wildly at their kennels, with new people routinely coming and going. I thought to myself, this dog would be amazing in a happy and structured environment. So, I had to ask, “how old is he?” I was stunned to find out he was over a year!

I didn’t want to make any spontaneous or irrational decisions. I snapped a photo of his fact sheet and sent it to Brian with a quick text: Looks like they have a pocket-sized Bully! I was thinking surely, Brian will bring sensibility to the situation, to the thought I had of adding to our pack, bringing our canine total to four! Ha! Nope! Brian’s speedy response ”I'm on my way!" We are both suckers for dogs! I knew I would probably cave at some point in my volunteerism. Folks! I DID NOT MAKE IT THROUGH A SHIFT! LOL!

What you need to know about adopting from a shelter:

  • The dog you see in the shelter will typically display behaviors that are unfavorable at the first meeting - LOOK BEYOND THIS! Remember these dogs have experienced some sort of trauma, whether it be neglect, abuse, abandonment, or loss. What unfavorable behaviors do you display when you go through harsh times in life?

  • Don’t get caught up on looks! These dogs are all beautiful and have their own style and character. Once you get these dogs plumped up, a little TLC, and maybe DIY grooming, you have a beautiful ( IMO - show dog quality) canine! They may be suffering "Happy Tail Syndrome" where they are so elated to see people, that their tails wag and repeatedly hit the cement walls and bleed. There is nothing wrong with them, they are just happy to see people in the shelter and hoping they get to go home with you!

  • Take time at your initial meeting with dogs. There was one dog I avoided because she showed her teeth when I walked by her kennel with another dog. The following week, I took her out for a training session. This dog is amazing at fetch! She will sit in a heartbeat if her human is holding a ball. Taking time with her, I was able to see past her aroused state and see a glimmer of her true personality.

  • No matter how great your home is, positive change produces stress too. Your newly adopted dog will see all things in your home as new! Time and patience will be important to ease your new dog into your routine and feel comfortable and trust in the new environment.

  • You may have a dog or two at home, or a cat. Don’t let your guard down because the introduction with your newly adopted dog goes well; don’t give up if the introduction doesn’t go well. Maintain separate eating areas and supervise closely to observe and intervene if tensions arise, for example, resource guarding of chews and toys. How would you react if suddenly cohabitating with a complete stranger, sharing food, toys, space, and best friends?

  • Keep attentive to body language! Body language is the way a dog will communicate how they are feeling. Being attentive to it helps you become familiar with it, and give you information to prevent a bad situation, and to build trust. We observed Enzo cowering over belts being removed, arms raised, fast jerky movements, and loud voices.

Enzo’s adjustment has been primarily positive. That isn’t to say there haven’t been challenges and safety measures to implement!

Week One:

  • The initial introduction went more positive than expected. We thought Porsche would be a challenge, but she took to Enzo almost immediately. When meeting Clifford, Enzo tried jumping on Clifford, which shifted the tone and we had to take things slower. Eventually, he tried

to jump on Porsche as well, she put him in his place. They each pushed the boundaries and listened when the other dog corrected.

  • On about day four, there was an empty food dish that Porsche managed to grab and start chewing. Enzo had shown no interest in chewing anything. The bowl Porsche had seemed to attract him and he tried to join in. That ended in a small scuffle. We were in the room with them, guard slightly relaxed, and Porsche is a pro at quietly swiping something to chew. Quick and confident intervention kept everyone safe and taught us, that we don’t fight here.

  • Enzo walked around in what seemed like a state of “awe” as he took in his new environment. Each noise, like the clanking of pots and pans during dinner prep, or the smacking down of a knife to crush garlic was a very normal and insignificant sound to my veteran dogs, to my newbie, it was a frightening threat!

Week Two:

  • Enzo definitely has a calm demeanor, similar to what we saw in the shelter. The difference is, that he is not recouping from surgery anymore, he has gained some confidence and will assert himself. Boundaries continued to be tested among all three dogs. No serious altercations, however, were tested! We used our Sprayshield and the command “timeout” to break up the arguments.

  • We make use of kennel time at “meal time” to keep all separate during eating time, and to provide personal space. They are not always appreciative of this, however, it gives us humans a break from always being on alert and a little time to achieve the household tasks we have. “Meal time” is a cue we have given to all of our dogs to head to their kennels for breakfast and dinner. By week two, Enzo understands the cue and goes to his kennel. The first week was rough. He thought he was going to be locked in the space like in the shelter. It’s just for a short period when we are home, 30 minutes to an hour.

  • We started Canine Good Citizen training. Another new environment for Enzo! We knew we wouldn’t get too far on training. He is difficult to lure into a sit; the hand over his head makes him cower. So for this week, we focus on capturing favorable behaviors. He did have “look at me” down by the end of the class!

  • We tried to get the dogs out of our bed before and were unsuccessful. It starts out with one at the foot of the bed, by the middle of the night, we have been struggling for space after Porsche, Clifford, and Coco made stretched out in our spaces! We thought that it was great that Enzo seemed to like the floor. Well, by the end of week two, we are struggling for space in the middle of the night when Porsche, Clifford, Coco, and Enzo have stretched out in our spaces. Oh well! What’s one more :) When you think he may have never felt so safe to sleep, I can deal with this sweet guy cozying up to us at night!

Week Three:

  • Enzo’s face has softened from looking tense, timid, and stressed to a happy and safe expression!

  • Our skinny boy has plumped up by 12 pounds and just a healthy feel of the ribcage. A little puppy belly is forming, so we will have to slow down the portions! When he first arrived, we let him eat until not hungry.

  • Enzo realized he likes toys, understands where to sit during meal prep and that those clanking pots and slapping of the chopper mean a few safe prep crumbs will hit the floor.

  • We also realize how much Enzo loves car rides, they seemed to make him nervous at first.

  • We have captured Enzo in “sit” and “Platz” and were sure to treat and praise him!

  • This week at Canine Good Citizen training, Enzo sat, played with other dogs, and offered “look at me” with distractions to maintain loose-leash walking.

Stay on the lookout for more updates on Enzo’s adjustment into the Beachy house, and pack! We fell in love with him immediately. Brian and Enzo bonded immediately as well. Don’t feel bad if the bond doesn’t take place so quickly. It can take time. Do you have a friend that the moment you met, it seemed like you knew each other forever? Do you also have a friend that you value and cherish, and that was a bond built over time? For me and Enzo, we had to work on the bond. This didn’t quite develop until the end of week three. It doesn’t have less value, some things just take time. That is ok and offer you and your pup grace if that is the reality. Training helps build your bond, so keep working towards it!

Aloha, Barks, and Howls,

Melanie Beachy

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