Build a foundation of trust

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After the rescue, the dogs went to our care and rehabilitation center. Most, including Dorothy, showed severe signs of fear, anxiety and stress. Behavior and enrichment specialist Vivienne Miller recalls Dorothy hunched over, “trying to make herself as small as possible.”

Miller worked to reduce Dorothy’s distress and create positive associations with people through predictable daily routines and enrichment activities. After almost two weeks at the center, Miller has seen progress. “She started to flick her tail at us when we approached her kennel,” Miller says. “She was able to relax and sleep peacefully in our presence and started taking treats directly from us.”

Yet progress was slow. During the first few days at Peek’s, Dorothy hid under Peek’s bed, coming out to eat, drink, and use the potty pads while Peek slept. One night, Peek woke up with a pair of erect ears on the side of the bed. She was “watching me and watching me sleep…just kind of spotting me,” Peek says.

Eventually, Dorothy began spending time in the living room with Peek but ran away if Peek moved. One day, as Dorothy was lying next to her, Peek tried to touch her. Dorothy pulled away abruptly, apparently unfamiliar with the concept of receiving pets.

Dorothy went into labor after two weeks in Peek’s house. Peek took care of her, offering her water and stroking her head. This time, Dorothy didn’t back down. “There was this critical moment where she just looked at me and was like, ‘OK, I’m just going to have to trust you,'” Peek said.

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