Patience and understanding help stray dog Toffee to overcome the ghosts of her past…
Five-year-old Toffee was so frightened when she arrived at our Lewknor rehoming centre that it was difficult to reassure her that she was in safe hands.
Lisa Kent, Animal Welfare Assistant, says: “Every time she was touched, she flinched.”
Poor Toffee got no enjoyment from being petted by humans so we developed a tailor made behaviour programme for her, which began with making sure no one touched her unnecessarily so we didn’t put her under any pressure or stress.
Lisa explains: “To help with this, we got a light lead, attached it to her collar and left it on her so that we could minimise touching her while still being able to get her out.”
To help her learn that being touched wasn’t a negative thing, we encouraged her to voluntarily touch her handler, and every time she did she was rewarded with her favourite treat – tasty chicken.
Although Toffee was scared of humans, our team saw how happy and relaxed she was around other dogs.
Animal Welfare Assistant Katrina Hyde also took Toffee home to give her a break from the kennel environment.
Once Toffee was happy in the presence of familiar people, we set about looking for the perfect home for her. She needed owners who would understand that she was very worried and needed to learn at her own pace.
Jean and John Ewen were searching for another dog to join their household after they sadly lost a much loved pet. When they saw Toffee loved other dogs, they knew she was the one.
After a successful introduction with the Ewen’s terrier type, Darla, Toffee began her new life with Jean and John.
As expected, Toffee took time to adjust but she has come on in leaps and bounds in the few months since she arrived at her forever home.
“She is so relaxed now,” says Jean. “When she first came home she would never have sat with us. Now she sits on our laps.”
John adds, “I think having a second dog helped because what got her to sit on my lap was having Darla on my lap. Eventually she came across as if to say, ‘But what about me?’”
Patience is a virtue, and it was certainly worth the wait for Toffee.