Penny’s “coming home” story was not exactly how I pictured it to be, but it is her story and it should be told just the same.
In March 2013, our beloved 10yo shepherd passed away unexpectedly. I had no idea how much it would hurt to lose him – I feel like I thought he would just be with us forever. We didn’t know when (if?) we would want another dog. After a big move and some time, we decided in December that it was finally time to start looking. From there, it happened unbelievably fast.
I started searching shelters and area rescues, and when I found her (then named “LaLa”), a 7-8 month old terrier mix, I was in love. I went out on my own to meet her before we brought our girls out, and it was hard to leave her on that first day. You could tell she was a little nervous, but you could say that she warmed up to me quickly. She was sweet and snuggly and she just wanted to sit on me and nuzzle. I was just hooked. The foster mom said she had been great around the kids and other dogs, so I knew she would be great with kids. I left and told the mom we would all be back together the next day to pick her up. I envisioned letting the girls out of the car and having her rush up to them with licks and a happy, wagging tail. I went the next day to get everything we needed for her and, excitedly, we piled the girls in the car after school and drove them out – telling them NOTHING.
It didn’t go the way I’d pictured it in my head. When we all got out of the car, I smiled at her and whistled a little….and she ran. She ran and hid.The girls were trying to figure out what was happening, and we were trying to surprise them, and instead I was trying to coax this dog out of hiding just to come meet them. Eventually, I picked her up and held her a bit and then handed her to my husband, who took her in their living room and sat on the couch with her. They petted and snuggled her while I filled out the adoption paperwork, and the girls were positively giddy with excitement. She was sitting there, being perfectly cooperative, but scared. She rode in my lap the whole way home, and within a few minutes
was licking me and giving me some indications that she remembered me and was happy I had come back for her. When we got her home, that’s when we started to realize that we were dealing with more than just a puppy from a shelter. She was still sweet, gentle, and loving, but she was also terrified. She started to follow me around a bit, but if I turned around and took a step toward her to pet her she would bolt. She wouldn’t eat or drink, wouldn’t go in or out of doors, and would tuck her tail and ears if you so much as looked at her.
However, she slept like a champ in her crate in our room at night, and we could see glimpses of playfulness in an unexpected tail wagging or turning her head toward you when you called her name. She took a particular liking to the littlest munchkin, who we have since affectionately named “The Penny Whisperer”. I started just taking her along everywhere I went because she does great on a leash and in the car, and I figured that socializing and incorporating her into our lives would have
the most comforting effect for her. She is now a pro at school drop off, but the first time out and about brought out some definite uncertainty.
She is getting better day by day, but we know there is a long road ahead. As of this day (day #10), she is following me around just about everywhere. She will eat (slowly) when you put her food down, has had no accidents in the house and sleeps in her crate pretty darn well. She spends most of her time curled up on “her” blanket on the couch, but every now and then I can get a little playfulness out of her for a moment. Our biggest hurdle is my husband, who is one of the biggest dog lovers ever, but to her he brings up something she is scared of. She will get on the couch if he is sitting on it (which is actually a new thing), but will not approach him if he is standing, and will circle outside a room if she has to in order to avoid walking right by him. She will take a treat out of his hand if he gets down low, but retreats as soon as she gets it. All progress is good progress, but I hope that she will soon learn she can trust him – and all of us – and that we love her already.
Welcome to the family, Penny!