We’ve been fostering Duke for about a month now. We can’t believe it’s already been a month since we first brought him home from ACS and are so encouraged by how far he’s come since that day. Sometimes we feel like he’s a completely different animal now compared to the scared, nervous dog that Chip had to literally carry out of my car to get him come inside that first night. Now he’s so much more social, spends a lot of time playing with Wrigley and always greets us with a wagging tail like any other happy dog would.
I do have to admit that fostering Duke was a little overwhelming at first. The first couple of weeks were challenging as we tried showing him he could trust us, that we weren’t going to hurt him in any way, that we were here to help get him better and find him a home. It broke my heart to see him try to figure us out, how he would take an hour in the morning to leave the crate and walk across the hall and living room to go outside and how he would bolt if either of us came in the room unexpectedly. I couldn’t imagine what had happened to him in his past and would become so frustrated knowing that Duke isn’t the only dog this has happened to, that there are many other abused, scared pups out there (someday I hope to have my own dog sanctuary and help as many dogs as we can! :)). I was also concerned with Duke’s overall health the first half of February. Within his first week with us, he slipped and fell inside and hurt his leg and was limping around. He was on pain killers for a while and he seemed to have such a little appetite those days that even though he was already so skinny to start with, it seemed like he was losing another couple of pounds those first couple of weeks. I began to think that maybe Duke required more work and attention than either of us could give while also working full time and living our daily lives and that it would take a very long time for him to be “normal.” Fortunately things soon started to turn around.
After a couple of weeks with us, Duke was finally starting to show an appetite. He would eat most of the food we were giving him, but it wasn’t until we got some high calorie dog food for him from my parents that we started to see him finally fill out a bit. His hips are still thin, but his rib/stomach area is finally looking healthier. I know he’ll continue to put on weight as he cleans his big bowl of food every night of this higher calorie food. He even looks forward to his mealtime now and let’s me know when he’s hungry by walking to and from the office room until we serve his dog bowl outside the crate.
He’s also finally less skittish in the house, no longer trying to dart in and out of the house as quickly and stealthily as he can. It’s so encouraging to see him ready at the doggie gate in the office every morning, wagging his tail and excited to go outside. He no longer treats the backdoor as some magic thresh hold he can’t cross but now comes in and out as easily as Wrigley does (although he does thankfully act a bit more calmly than Wrigley…). He even chooses to be with us in the living room now and is content to take a nap there or play with a toy around us, a huge difference compared to the first couple of weeks where he would only be with us in the living room when we made him.
One thing that I think has helped Duke come a long way is time with Wrigley. I’m actually shocked at how much Wrigley has done for Duke (for those of you who know Wrigley you know he’s a little on the crazy side!), but we’ve really seen Duke come out of his shell when he plays with Wrigley. Chip and I have a lot of fun watching these goofs wrestle and see how they try to pull each others ears. Feel free to click this link to see a funny video I took of them last weekend while watching them play from inside the house – Duke and Wrigley playing outside
Duke also recently discovered Wrigley’s toy bucket in the living room. Prior to this discovery, he would usually just chew on whatever toy Wrigley would walk away from, but this past weekend he finally saw where the toys are kept. He’s got a few favorites and will sit there quietly and chew on them. This is also teaching our spoiled little Wrigley how to share… Wrigley has some serious only child tendencies and will usually cry and bark while standing by Duke whenever he has one of his toys (since there isn’t an entire basket of other toys to play with… :)).
Chip and I are so proud of Duke for coming so far and can’t stop talking about how different he is now. He’s starting to trust people more easily and learning to be part of a family. I’m hoping that his leg will be stronger within the next week so I can start walking him next weekend and hopefully help him become a good walking partner. He’s become so playful over the last couple of weeks and so much more accepting of affection. He’s showing some good guard dog behaviors, barking at the garbage man whenever he comes by and growling at sudden noises outside. Yes, he’s still needs a little more time and attention before he’s a fully rehabilitated dog, but we see a lot of potential in Duke and know that he will someday soon make a family very happy as their new dog :)
To end this post, I want to share a cute sign my cousin sent me this week. Being the dog lover I am this definitely made me a little teary eyed but also really spoke to my heart as we continue to love on Duke.