I would like to introduce you all to Blossom; her story is actual pretty lengthy so for the purpose of getting my point across I am going to abbreviate the story by highlighting the important issues.
Blossom was a neglected and abused dog rescued by Rescue Dogs Rock NYC when she was just a puppy. She was a very fearful dog who exhibited flight responses in scary situations. Just being transported into rescue, she escaped and ran away into a swamp.
Blossom was having issues in her first foster home, so I was asked to help in the situation as I had a reputation in the rescue community for taking difficult cases as such.
When she finally arrived, she completely shut down and would not go near any people or dogs. She would back herself in to a corner and just stay there only to come out when no one else was around. She wouldn’t even eat or drink until the entire household went to sleep and she was alone.
After a while, she began to come out of her shell. After 2 weeks of keeping to herself she chose to come introduce herself to my other dogs. She quickly bonded with my dog Bailey and to this day has yet to leave her side. Wherever Bailey goes, Blossom will follow.
Problems due to her past began to emerge, she would have “aggressive” outbursts that did not show a clear reason as to why. Random sounds and quick movements would set her off. If she saw a leash come out to take another dog for a walk she would urinate right where she stood as well as running away if you tried to put a leash on her. Often Blossom would lash out and attack another dog in the household if something spooked her, and I was never really able to figure out the root cause.
If she was hurt or sick I couldn’t get near her to help her she would basicly retreat to a corner and if I tried to get close she would snap at me. (most dogs when injured or very sick can act that way) I couldn’t even get her to the Vet in an emergency. No leash, no car, no help. I would have to sedate her and carry her covered in a blanket to the nearest ER. Sadly, there was even a Veterinarian at that ER that was afraid of keeping Blossom overnight because she didn’t want to endanger herself and her staff. (Obviously I wondered what kind of training she had and why she even became a Veterinarian, but that’s an issue to discuss another time.)
The worst nightmare I encountered with Blossom was when she went after 2 of my other dogs and injured them so badly the Vet bills were over $10,000 and left one of my dogs with permanent nerve damage. Thankfully my babies are ok today but it’s an attack that replays in my head like a horror movie. I had seen dogs fight before and it was usually for a reason, but in this case there seemed to be no reason.
Blossom seemed like such a loving playful dog one minute and then would suddenly become cujo! I had to keep all of my dogs separated and installed steel gates to walls to subdivide my home. I basically surrendered my home to the dogs. I began to ask myself, “How could Blossom ever find a forever family?”
In her first foster home, Blossom met with a trainer who labeled her as “untrainable”. I couldn’t believe that, I knew Blossom needed help. I believed she was misunderstood, and incorrectly labeled as an aggressive dog.
Aggression is one of the most common and serious behavior problems in dogs. The term “aggression” refers to many different kinds of behavior associated with a multitude of reasons in various circumstances. Basically, when saying a dog is “aggressive” can mean so many different things, and there are instances where the term is often misused. I knew I needed to help Blossom or she would be put down, I was not ready to give up on her and was not going to allow that to happen.
With the help of Rescue Dogs Rock we found home Vet care and a Behaviorist. At the time I didn’t know what the difference was between a trainer and a behaviorist. The Veterinarian, Behaviorist, and myself needed to worked together to help Blossom.
The conclusion was made that Blossom was in need of medication and behavior modification. She now takes a daily dose of Fluoxetine or in layman’s terms, doggie Prozac. Blossom will most likely need to stay on this medication her entire life. However, my life as well as hers has dramatically changed for the better since she has started this medication.
Blossom eats a homemade grain free diet, and we use natural essential oils on her and in the home to keep her calm and peaceful. We even add a supplement to the drinking water in the home to help calm her, and it benefits all of my dogs.
Having Blossom in my home has taught me a very valuable lesson, that instead of labeling a dog as “aggressive” it is important try and determine what motivates your dog to behave aggressively and what he/she is trying to gain from such behavior. I have continued along this journey with the wonderful behaviorist who has been teaching me how to desensitize Blossom to anything that might set her off.
One of the most important things I have learned from this journey is that Blossom is NOT an aggressive dog; Blossom is a sensitive dog. Her horrible past had left her with mental scars that caused her to associate being surrounded by certain actions, or hearing certain sounds with a bad memory she has kept in the back of her mind.
Today, Blossom is a different dog. She wears a collar comfortably for the first time in her life and even allows me to work with her on a leash. While we haven’t gone on a walk just yet, she is content to practicing in the backyard during her behavior training. She will even sit and behaves when the Veterinarian comes to treat her.
Obviously we have a long way to go. There is an outside world of noise and strangers beyond my control, but Blossom’s medication will make that all much easier to manage and makes her much less reactive to situations.
Putting your dog on medication is not something you should do without first ruling out any other medical issue. Take your dog to the Veterinarian for a full physical exam, and consult a Certified Veterinary Behaviorist that will be best equipped to assist in behavior modification exercises.
I can finally believe that Blossom is beginning to have the wonderful life she always deserved. For all these reason and more, Blossom is here to stay and we are now her forever family! ❤️
I would like to make a point here that you should never give up on getting your dog the help he/she needs. Don’t label or listen to labels that have been placed by others on dogs, don’t be afraid to try medications or herbs that are recommended by your Veterinarian/Behaviorist. Even getting a trainer or a behaviorist can help you out. I beg you not to rush to surrender or rehome your dog without trying every resource possible.
I would like to close by sending a huge shout out and thank out to RDRNYC! Blossom and I thank you for not giving up on her, and for helping me along this journey!