It Takes a Village… and a whole lot of patience

Where is that magical dog-fixing wand? I’m sure I put it down here somewhere… What?! There isn’t one? Why hasn’t someone at Hogwarts done something about that yet?! Well I guess I’m just gonna have to try to fix Phoebe the old-fashioned way – with painstaking patience, research and the ever-necessary: sweat and tears.

For those of you that need a quick recap on who Phoebe is, you can go back to my post on how I became an accidental foster, and then adoptive mother to Phoebe, and then how I came to love and deal with my crazy beautiful reactive girl. I really thought that once I had roped in the experts’ help and understood her problems we would suddenly come to a place where all her problems and fears would shrink away and totally disappear. Wishful thinking indeed!

True to traumatised rescue dog pattern, Phoebe arrived at my home a wreck, got better, and then as she started feeling more trusting and secure more of her deep-rooted issues emerged, instead of less. *sigh*

The good news is that her reactivity seems to be getting under control – which is to say that we both know that she’ll always feel this way, but she doesn’t act out quite as much and has accepted that if she’s at my side I will be in control of the situation and she doesn’t have to be so on edge. From the outside it may not look like progress just yet, but Phoebe and I know it’s a huge leap. Now we need to tackle those Separation Issues with the same fervour.

You know that quote “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well it couldn’t be more right in this situation. I’m grateful for all the support around me. I’m still doing weekly work with my great Dog Behaviourist, and my vet has been there to give support and medical advice where needed. I have friends who are willing to go on hikes with us and walk her if my schedule is too full. I even found a great petsitter who was surely a revered animal whisperer in a past life!

I often wonder what would have happened to Phoebe if she didn’t find her way into a home where someone was willing to take the time to love and understand her… But that’s an avenue of thought I need to force myself not to go down. If there’s one thing she’s taught me it’s to live in the moment with no thoughts of “what if’s“. Just deal with what’s happening now.

I hate to be contrary Jennifer, but clearly you've never had the privilege of taking a traumatised dog under your wing. Sometimes they don't 'let go of the past and live each day joyously'. Well, not without help at least...

I hate to be contrary Jennifer, but clearly you’ve never had the privilege of taking a traumatised dog under your wing. Sometimes they don’t ‘let go of the past and live each day joyously’. Well, not without a little help at least…

There’s so much information I’ve had to research, process, learn and implement that I thought I would share some of my experiences of what I’ve learned and what’s worked for Phoebe and I. And from what I can tell, I’m not alone in my search for the perfect combination of actions that will make up the perfect formula to a normal, well adjusted dog (does that animal even exist?).

So with that in mind, I’ve decided to start a series of posts focussing on those exact issues and coping mechanisms that I’ve learned about and tried. Some with success, some not. But hopefully it can come in handy for someone out there dealing with their own ‘Phoebe’ struggles. These will be posted in the Fabulous Phoebe – The Dogtails category if you’re looking for the collection.

Let’s populate our own little village with wise words that can help and encourage all those going through the same trials and tribulations of raising special needs canine bundles of love!


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