This photo showed up in my inbox just when I needed a little blast of Squeek Power.
The wee dog you see here came into Oakland Animal Services during an especially busy week a few months ago. An especially busy week means fewer kennels are available, which means dogs with minor behavior quirks are much less likely to make the cut during evals. When we first met this girl-who-was-not-yet-named, her kennel card had a '4' circled, which meant she was not long for this world.
Besides being friggin' adorable, she was clearly under-socialized and a little timid. Not bad, but not great. She was one of those grey area dogs that twist our stomachs in knots because they just aren't popping a flashing green light for 'sure-bet-shelter-adoption,' but they're almost impossible to walk away from. After spending some time scratching our heads over her, we marked her as a BR dog to save her life. She was young, she was impressionable, she loved to be touched, she was great with dogs. Issues? Very likely, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. As is so often the case with this work: "Plug nose, Jump in."
It wasn't too long before our impressionable little girl was feeding off of the stress in the shelter and picking up some way-naughty lessons from her neighbor dogs. While taking her back to her kennel one day, she reared up, pulled her lips back and SQUEEKED out a roar at a dog who dared look at her funny. Cute, but not exactly the path we wanted her to take. So Squeeks got VERY lucky and scored herself a foster home who volunteered to help get the quirky little pit bull out of the shelter and on to the right track in the real world.
Her foster mom (Cindy) reported back when Squeeks squeeked at a scary stranger and again when she spit at a dog, and Rep Linda worked out gameplans and protocol to help guide them both along. Cindy did the long drive every week to smooth out leash manners in Pit Ed class and she exposed her to a world full of people scary and not so scary. Squeeks enjoyed her first ever stable home that included a big sister dog to emulate, and she learned about chase-n-tickle games with her foster dad Neal.
Our project pup finally realized that she wasn't going to get eaten in this big new world, especially by the likes of Jeremy and Gaytha, who fell in love and wanted to make her theirs. They had a hell of a time with their landlord on this one, but that's a whole other story. Long story short, they were victorious over the landlord's jitters and Squeeks is home for good. Her photo with Jeremy almost makes it all look so very easy.
My favorite part of this story, besides her happy ending of course, is that Squeeks was saved because a handful of people including and especially her foster mom and Rep Linda were able to get her out of a situation where she would have disintegrated into a stereotype, and right into a setting where she could blossom. It worked. Once timid stray is now a flirtatious ambassador for her breed. And just as her original humans were once responsible for making her a creature to be wary of, a whole new set of humans were responsible for making her a treasured Daddy's girl.
Top Photo: Snapped by Squeeks' adopter, Gaytha Watley