dog rescue, foster dogs, fostering, Gala, puppies

People Save Dogs, but Dogs Can Also Save People

Sharing Gala’s situation last week triggered an avalanche of reaction. Many, many suggestions for trainers, meds, herbal supplements, etc. And more than that—lots of support and encouragement, which is maybe what I needed most. Sadly, it did not trigger any adoption applications.

I want to be clear, I was not suggesting that it is time to euthanize Gala. I don’t believe she’s out of options. And I ABSOLUTELY believe she can be successful and happy in the right adoptive home. What drove my frustration and sadness is that I’m pretty certain our foster home is no longer helping her. Her anxiety is up, not down. Yes, she has improved in many areas – she is better on the leash, she is accepting of her crate, she knows commands like sit, stay, and come. She is not trying to escape our house.

In other ways, though, I feel she has peaked and is regressing. Her reactivity to people has increased, and I believe that’s a combination of her becoming attached to us (and feeling she needs to protect us), and my nervousness when she meets someone new. I always worry how she will react. Gala is an extremely sensitive dog. And Gala loves me beyond reason. This combination becomes combustible when we are in public places where her anxiety is already ramped up.

This realization is what drove me to tears. I wrote that I don’t think I can save her, but I didn’t mean that someone else couldn’t.

Gala is a wonderful dog. She is affectionate and devoted to her people. She loves to snuggle on the couch, follows me from room to room, and seems to relax best sleeping next to me as I work. She freely gives kisses, squeals when I come home after being out, and is learning not to jump up for more attention. She is the perfect dog for someone looking for a companion and a best friend.

Gala is incredibly smart and sensitive. She reads people and moods and situations, perhaps, too well. When I am stressed or frantic, she is also. When salesmen come to my door (surprisingly often, considering how off the beaten path we are), she senses my irritation and barks just inside the door, nonstop, but when a friend comes to the door, she is all waggles and happy, ready to greet them. She quickly learns routines, twirling circles when it is dinner time, sitting to have her harness put on for a walk, accepting of her morning crate time, and willing to settle down and nap as soon as she enters my office. Gala could likely learn tricks and agility too, it’s my biggest regret that we don’t have the time to work on more of this. For the motivated adopter, though, she could be a Rockstar when it comes to tricks.

Walking with PeetyGala loves to go for walks and runs and hikes. That said, she isn’t more difficult on the days we don’t have time for them. I take her for long, long walks each day because I know it makes her happy and because it’s good for me. She is the ideal dog for the person looking for motivation to get more exercise. I just discovered the book Walking with Peety and put it on my wishlist. I love the premise – a dangerously unhealthy man (hundreds of pounds overweight) is prescribed a ‘shelter dog’ by his doctor. He adopts a senior dog who is also dangerously overweight and they change each other’s lives. The man loses 150 pounds and Peety loses 25 pounds!

People save dogs, but dogs can also save people. I wrote in Gala’s bio that she is a once-in-a-lifetime dog and I absolutely believe that. She is a dog that will change your life.

So, last week’s post wasn’t a there’s-no-hope-left-for-Gala post. It was a there’s-no-more-Cara-can-do-for-Gala post. I want Gala to have the life she deserves. She needs her family to come for her. But she’s not a charity case – I promise you that if you adopt Gala, she will change your life. Her heart is so big and her enthusiasm so unbounded, any adopter will be lucky to have her.

Now, the next thing I’m going to tell you will probably make you shake your head and worry for my sanity, but really it is the one thing that can make my current situation better.

Puppies are coming.

I still don’t have a firm headcount, but at least these four cuties:

I know the chaos may not be good for Gala, but the presence of puppies has always made her happy. In fact, Frankie has been the Gala-whisperer of late. They wrestle nonstop, in endless tugowar matches over any toy Frankie picks up. Eventually they wear themselves out and lie together on the Frank bed. It is proof that Gala is not only capable of getting along with other dogs, but she enjoys them. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s known Frankie since he was 8 weeks old, so while he’s nearly her size, she still thinks of him as a baby. I don’t know. It has been so good for my heart this week to see Frankie work his magic on Gala.

I don’t know what the coming weeks will hold for Gala. I don’t know if adding puppies to the mix will make us all crazy. I just know that I need to save more dogs. I need to know I’m making a difference and I don’t want to blame Gala for the fact that I haven’t saved as many dogs this year as last year. So, the puppies are coming Friday night. They are older puppies, already 12 weeks old who will likely be available for adoption by the new year. The smell and noise and work will be over-the-top. But they’re the best antidote for my weary, uncertain heart.

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit CaraWrites.com or subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter.

If you’d like to know how you can volunteer, foster, adopt or donate with OPH, click here. And if you’d like more regular updates of foster dogs past and present, be sure to join the Another Good Dog facebook group.

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to comment here on the blog, email carasueachterberg@gmail.com or connect with me through Facebook, twitter, or Instagram.

Blessings,

Cara

18 thoughts on “People Save Dogs, but Dogs Can Also Save People”

    1. Oh Cara, your stories make me cry sometimes. You are so wonderful for Gala, she needs you as much as you need her sometimes. I am looking forward to seeing how the new puppies 🐶, become involved with Frankie and Gala. Another story to be told!
      Peggy

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love Gala so much! I wish I could have her, but I already have one anxious dog, so don’t even wnat to try! lol. Plus, I don’t have the time for her active lifestyle. BUt you have been such a good mom to her! Can’t wait to see these new kiddos! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh Cara, I never meant you should put Gala down. I know you love her and that there is a home out there somewhere for her but I also know you are frustrated with her situation. Keep on doing the great work of saving puppies!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No worries Jenni – you weren’t the only one who thought that was what I was hinting at – it was my fault for not communicating more clearly the issues with Gala. Emotion can get the best of me at times. You’ll have to bring your grandson to come meet the new pups once they are settled in.

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  3. I live with an insane reactive dog. He’s better (has taken a lot of work) and for the most part he’s great with other dogs and people. He still tends to be reactive to some people and dogs when walking on leash. Of course his issue is that he’s so cute people want to pet him. He doesn’t like strangers getting close when he’s on leash. Off leash, at a dog park, he doesn’t care. I’ve resorted to using a dog vest that says – Working, DO NOT PET! – while walking in the neighborhood.
    I think what’s helped us is that he was well-socialized as a young puppy. Who knows what happened to Gala…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve thought about getting a harness or vest or something for Gala that says ‘stay back’. A vest that says she’s working is a brilliant idea. She just needs people to be slower when they approach so she has time to be comfortable. Thanks for the idea!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was thinking about Gala when I was out with Dusty and Bear just now. Dusty is still a reactive dog, comparatively, but since I moved here it’s so much less a problem. People here like dogs. They expect them to bark and be protective. That alone has relaxed Dusty who is sensitive to the vibes people put out — and my fear that he scares people. It’s really a two-way street. Out here, if Dusty is off leash and we’re out for a walk, and he runs toward a strange the stranger is most likely to say, “Hey boy,” and start scratching Dusty’s ears or back.

    BTW, I never got the idea you were thinking of putting Gala down. I thought you were looking for help solving the problems of a dog you love. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve wondered also, how much of Gala’s reaction is my fears or the nervousness of the person approaching. She can seem a little intimidating until she breaks into her signature Gala grin and body-wag. (I also can’t wait until we can move to the mountains where people are fewer and farther between and dogs can just be dogs.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My dog also scares people even the new vet who treated him 2 weeks ago. I assured her he would not bite he’s just scared. I know Gala is scared too, her comfort zone is with you Cara. My dog has imprinted on me since he was about 5 months old. He still scares people who come into my house who don’t know him and is not always nice to my spouse. He is super protective of me. He actually chills much better when I am not in the house but he gets sad when I am not there because he is so attached. I am his rescuer just like you are Gala’s rescuer. I understand if you need someone else to take over for you. I hope you find someone. I know Gala would make someone VERY happy. I think she’s squirrely like my dog. But I LOVE my boy. Gala is awesome because she’s smart, she loves you, she loves Frankie and your children. She can love other people too. I think when new pups come into your home it means less time for Gala so she reacts to this (I think a human child would react similarly). To me she has been extremely adaptable with the ever changing dog population. I know you would never make “the wrong” choice for Gala. I believe in you. I hope things work out for you soon. You are awesome!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Like your dog, Gala is also much calmer when I’m not around (reports my husband). I remind her of this whenever she’s getting wild in my presence, but it doesn’t change her behavior. I know the ever-flowing dog population in our house is hard on her, but I finally decided that if she’s stuck here, then she’s just going to have to adapt to our life. Not ideal, I know, but it would be worse if I didn’t do what I love to do and resented her for it. Thanks for your kind words and thanks for accepting and loving your own Gala. Best wishes!

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  6. How do you go about your business around the house when the dogs are playing tug of war, considering the noise that game often comes with? Or when they’re chasing each other or wrestling on the floor? Are you able to tune it out? I imagine that with your dogs, one or a few grown fosters, and some puppies thrown in, your home can be pretty noisy sometimes. Keep making a difference.

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    1. It can get pretty noisy sometimes but it rarely lasts long. It usually depends on which foster dogs we have. I do instill ‘quiet time’ several times a day when all dogs are either in crates or separated so we can have some peace and quiet. Even with that, there are weeks when Nick just can’t work from home or if he does, I take the dogs for walks when he has important calls.

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