Hotrod has had a tough go of it. “He wasn’t a rescue,” wrote his owner, Louise Long of Virginia, “but he lived alone with his owner for about 12 years — no family. When the owner found out he was dying, he asked the Humane Society to place the corgie in a new household.
“Hotrod promptly bit both new ‘parents’ as soon as they took him home, so back to his foster home at the shelter he went. Bite cases are put to death in this state, but the shelter felt so sorry for him that they asked if I’d try him. At my house, it’s me, Bug (my Dane/Lab mix), and several cats. After Hotrod had been with me for a few days, I read his paperwork, and it said he chases cats. Lovely.
“He isn’t afraid of me, but it has been 18 months since I took him home, and only now can I lift him into the car without a muzzle. In addition, he evidently never had to share, so he guards his dish, toys in his area, the bed (especially if I’m in it), the water dishes, and anything else in his field of vision. I have never crated a dog when I’m home, but Hotrod sleeps and eats in his crate so he doesn’t get into trouble with the other animals — or end up hurting me. He doesn’t mind, but it breaks my heart because I’m used to having the dogs and cats sleep on the bed.
“I guess my point is that patience is the only way progress is ever made. If I sit on the bed these days, he will at least lie next to me and even let me pet him.”
Ms. Long didn’t write that letter to us. She wrote it to Beth and Mike Phillips of Florida, whom she never met but had read about in the February 2014 issue of Your Dog. The Phillips, as you’ll recall, are the owners of Gracie the Basset hound, who also had a rough life before arriving at their home and mistook her male owner, Mike Phillips, for a dangerous foe. I hooked up Ms. Long and Ms. Phillips through e-mail, and they exchanged some notes, commiserating about “parenting” a dog who finds it hard to trust his human family. They are both living saints in the canine world, providing tough dogs with never-ending patience and care, and yes, with love. No doubt a number of you reading this are also spending years of your life loving a mistrustful dog. From all of us here at the Cummings School, thank you.
And thank you to one reader for reaching out to another. We’re a community, and I’m always happy to make connections that can help get dog owners through thetough times.
Happy tails to you,