Tess’ Story ~ Denise & Bryan Keith, NSW
The weekend Tess came to live with us was a disaster. Things couldn’t have gone more wrong even though we thought we did all the right things to introduce her to the Leuradales, Airedales Noah & Willow, and Irish-dale mix Lucy, also a Rescue.
We picked Tess up from the Victorian/NSW border. She was brought up by her previous owners who couldn’t provide her with the attention she needed. She was an habitual escape artist and a constant worry to them.
When we were alerted to an Airedale Terrier needing a new home where the owner was home all the time, we thought we’d be perfect. Bryan works from home and we have lots of Airedale experience. The introduction to Tess went well and the drive home was a breeze. Things were looking good until we got to my parents’ place where the Leuradales were waiting.
That weekend we visited the vet twice with more visits during the week. The problem was that at first Tess thought Noah belonged to her and she didn’t want to share him with Lucy or Willow. She quickly made enemies of both Lucy & Willow by trying to attack them. Willow backed off as she is a sweetheart and doesn’t have a horrid bone in her body. Lucy on the other hand didn’t back down and the two of them got into some horrible fights. Tess came off worse for wear. First her eye lid was ripped and then on the Sunday night after another awful fight her leg was damaged. The first three weeks we had to be so careful. We never knew when Lucy & Tess would try to attack one another and it didn’t matter if we were in the way. We also ended up with cuts and bites by just being in their path.
After about 3 weeks, it came to a head when Tess & Lucy had a major fight. We didn’t interfere and the end result was Tess backing down and Lucy knowing she’d won top dog position. Since that day, it has been bliss….well, they don’t try to kill each other, put it that way. They do play hard though and love bitey face.
Tess is a clown, food thief, former escape artist and absolutely gorgeous. She is affectionate, loving and Bryan’s little shadow. All she wants is company and now she has it all day long.
Any ideas about escaping have long ago disappeared, unless Bryan is out of sight, or the rats next door require a good barking off. Welcome to Miss Tess Velcro Girl.
We can learn a lot from the story of Tess
What this illustrates is that any Rescue dog may bring some ‘baggage’ along to its new home. Lack of early socialising and few positive experiences can ~ and in most cases will ~ result in a dog that is confused, scared, uncertain in dog-dog relationships, and possibly with ‘attitude’.
Understanding of good leadership, when to interfere and when to leave things alone to sort themselves out, is a very necessary attribute when contemplating adoption. It is not for the faint hearted either. How many people would do what Denise and Bryan were prepared to do in allowing Tess and Lucy to find their own balance? Most would instantly want to ‘return’ the dog.
It also illustrates the principle behind a Trial Adoption. It can take anywhere from three days to three years (perhaps even forever) for a dog to find its ‘place’ and feel secure. Often, around the three week mark, there is a shift in behaviour which can move things along. Leadership (quiet but firm), consistency, routine, and regularity of activity will all help stabilise a dog who is learning new ropes.
If only humans spoke Dog fluently, imagine how much easier it would be for the dog.