she was, “the scariest dog at the shelter.”

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When I found Xena at the Yavapai Humane Society, she was first on the list to be put down.  No one could get near her and the veteran employee there said that no other dog had ever scared him as much as Xena.  However the new director there had a different idea.  Understanding what No-Kill really means, he asked me to assess her and asked if there was hope.  We put a behavior modification program into place and through much hard work Xena was rehabilitated.  Just as with a medical condition, shelter must learn that behavioral “issues” can be “cured.  Thank you to Ed Boks and the staff and volunteers at the Yavapai Humane Society for contributing to this happy story.  Below is the most recent email about Xena in her forever home:

When people ask me how I can give up a good career and do what I do, I just read this and smile…

Hi,

I just wanted you two to know how Xena is doing. She has had her moments, and it took patience and understanding, but it has paid off. She has turned into a wonderful dog, very easy to be around, and no bad habits, except she still likes to “fence fight” with the neighbor’s dogs sometimes, but she isn’t obsessive about it like she used to be.

In December, I missed not having a collie so much, that we got a sheltie, Hidee, from a good breeder. Xena didn’t take long getting attached to her and Hidee actually helped mellow Xena. For example, Xena used to pace and not relax around house guests. But she soon saw that Hidee loved people and got all the attention, so Xena quickly changed her attitude, so she could get in on the petting, too. The only thing their relationship lacked was that Hidee, being small and 7, didn’t really like to play that much, and Xena loves to romp and play.

We decided that you couldn’t have just one sheltie, so in January we went back to the breeder and got a second one, Lad. It was a lot to ask of Xena in a way, but she seemed to enjoy the two little ones. They were not threatening or competition, so she could relax around them. Lad is a male, 1 years old, and very rambunctious. He gave Xena the playmate she needed. They play tag until they are too tired to go on. They love to hunt rabbits and he can keep up with her, which is amazing, since she runs so fast. Hidee wants no part of hunting. Barking with Xena once in a while at dogs across the fence is her fun idea of fun with her “big sister”.

The two little ones look up to Xena and she likes the role. She’s alpha, then Hidee, and the youngest, Lad, is third in line. Xena is a very fair leader. If Hidee picks on Lad, which she does sometimes, Xena has actually walked between the two of them to end the quarrel. She never takes sides. The three are all so bonded that they like to be together most of the time.

At first Xena was jealous at times, but she got over that. We treated them all equally. And Xena did have to learn how to be gentle playing with small dogs. She soon realized that if she got rough, they would walk away. So she adjusted accordingly. The shelties have taught Xena how to trust new people and how to share, so that’s been good. On the other hand, the shelties do bark quite a bit, but Xena does not join in, unless it is something important. Most of the time she just looks at me, as if to say, “What are they going on about now?” Paul and I laugh about Xena being the anchor and the most sensible of the three now. It’s been quite a transformation.

Attached are two photos of Xena and her new “pack”. Hidee is in the middle and Lad is on the end. They are sitting, waiting for a treat. They are so much fun to watch interacting and playing together. So Xena has her forever home. I guess the one thing I would tell anyone looking to adopt a shelter dog is to be patient. They will adjust in time. And your advice was right, Robert, about the time frame needed for that. It’s only been in the last month or two that Xena has truly come into her own. I think her new buddies helped some, and time was a healer.

Thanks for your past support. We hope all is well with you.

Sandy and Paul

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