When working with older or adult dogs it's easy to forget - or at least not think about - the fact that they were once little puppies with no training, socializing, or manners. They had to learn how to walk on a leash - and sometimes this ability can be taken for granted.
I was lucky enough to take Blue-Bell and little Buster outside for their very first walks at the beginning of this week and let me tell you - their reactions were like night and day!
Miss Blue-Bell is exuberant, full of joy, playful and a really smart girl. Upon her first steps on the soft green grass in front of the shelter - her eyes grew wide with delight and she began bouncing in the air like a rabbit. She rolled, she leaped, she scratched up dirt, and practically did back flips because she was so thrilled. If Blue-bell were a little kid, she probably would have looked like the child in the photo! "HURRAY!"
Blue-bell ran in and out between my legs, jumped up to say "HI! WE'RE OUTSIDE! YIPPEE!", barked at a few other dogs, and was a big silly the majority of the walk. But she was learning quickly and with some practice and training - she'll be a pro in no time at all.
Now, lil' Buster was a different story. He is much more reserved, shy, and in need of reassurance. A home with plenty of support and t-l-c is a must for this gentle, mellow little dude. Buster simply refused to budge when I attempted to take him outside. I had to lift him up, carry him outside, and sit with him in the sun for a few minutes before he loosened up a bit.
Constantly trying to crawl into my lap for comfort, Buster was missing the world go by! But with plenty of treats and coaxing, he followed me slowly towards the end of the block. It was a long walk - at least 20 minutes to get to the boat house near the park. We were stopping and starting every few feet, but by the time we got there, Buster was much more relaxed. He was no longer crouching along the ground, he was walking tall with his tail wagging (slowly, of course), and his eyes twinkling. He had a good time, he just wanted to cuddle more.
When we arrived back at the shelter, Buster was lucky enough to be the "Office dog" for the rest of the day! :) He mostly relaxed on his bed, looking at everything and everyone going by. He enjoyed lots of tummy rubs and ear scratches from staff members and he loved the company of other dogs. What Buster needs most right now is lots of interaction with people and other dogs - the only way he'll come out of his shell is with lots of love and support. Let's give it to him!