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Discussion Starter #1
As most of you know, I took in an almost feral dog, Jaya, who was isolated from the world and abused at times for the first 5 years of her life.

I took her in because she did remind me of a previous dog I owned, but mostly because I felt like I had a lot of experience with dogs from owning them my whole life and am very patient with dogs. I knew too, that it was going to be very doubtful if she ever became a 'hands on' kind of a dog...one that would come to me and allow me to pet her, or show a lot of affection (if any) towards me.

I had been in recovery from a bad accident that left me in a wheelchair for almost 5 months during which time I lost both of my dogs...one to diabetes and one, put to sleep due to issues from old age. I then went for a whole year without a dog around for the first time in my life.
I got Jaya, because I knew I could give her a good home, but also I felt that in trying to teach her to trust me, it would be a good challenge for me after having spent almost a year going from wheelchair to walking again, and getting into a financial spot where I felt safe getting another dog.

One of the first things family and friends said to me: "Why would you ever want a dog like that?" And...when I adopted HaHa, a golden retriever, who is slightly retarded...the same question popped up.

I explained to people that these dogs were not that much harder to take care of than any other dog. In fact, both dogs are well behaved. Jaya's not one to initiate human contact, but HaHa makes up for that....he can't stand it if someone's not paying attention to him...petting him and watching him play.

Today, my niece came to the house, and while she was sitting on the sofa, Jaya very slowly walked over to her and my niece held out her hand and Jaya sniffed it. When my niece reached out a little bit to pet her, Jaya shied away and went to the other end of the living room and sat down.

I told my niece that I was very impressed with Jaya, that she got so close to a stranger and sniffed like that. My niece, who has only visited my house like once every 2 or 3 months or so....said, "Yeah, but I wish she would let me pet her with out running away".

I replied "She still runs from me too, if I reach out and pet her and I've had her for like 3 years now....She will at least let me approach her now and not run half the time, so I'm making progress"

My niece then said... "Why would you ever want a dog like that?"

I didn't say anything...but it has had me thinking for the past 4 hours.

I just don't understand how, even if it's not the right thing for one person, that they can't understand or see that there is still a value, or something... I don't know what to call it....that an animal like that brings into a person's life. I feel like I'm giving up all that affection, but on the other hand, I'm gaining this big emotional feeling in my heart every time Jaya does something that shows she's lost some amount of fear, or when she does show me affection in her own way.

She doesn't come and get cozy with me, but if I've been gone for a bit and come home...she now trots around in a circle and wags her tail...and she will come up to sniff me too. She didn't do this for well over a year after I adopted her. Best of all, she comes to me when I call her. I'm happy with that.... I really don't need more. When I first got her, the sound of a human voice made her run away...it took a long time for me to gain her trust and when I did...it was an awesome feeling.

Anyway... this is just kind of a rant. I was kind of saddened that my niece would say that. Seems like the concept of different expectations is alien to to some people.

Jaya and HaHa both have learning issues...Jaya's disabilities were brought on by mental torture, isolation, and physical abuse. I doubt she really knew the emotion of being happy to see someone until just this past year. She never knew the sensation of feeling trust towards someone. And I think she still doesn't quite know what to do with those emotions...so she does what she always has done, keeps her distance.

HaHa's disability was something he was born with...his brain just doesn't work like a normal dog's brain should work...but he at least grew up with people around him who petted him and praised him. Training him to do somethings is almost impossible, because he can't remember things very good. But because of that, he's friendly and he's been helping me teach Jaya about 'good' interactions between humans and dogs. Jaya does seem to study HaHa when he's so delighted that he's being petted or talked to. Jaya sees he's not reacting in a fearful way and so she tends to relax as she sits and watches what goes on.

Anyway, if any of you have a 'why would you want a dog like that' question tossed your way from time to time...you probably know what I'm feeling when I hear that question.

Stormy
 

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Some people just don't understand the idea of taking on an animal for the animal's sake instead of your own. The sense of pride and accomplishment you feel seeing your dogs' steps towards becoming "better" is very rewarding and fulfilling. But not everyone sees "the point" or understands that kind of fulfillment. They see dogs as things meant to boost their own egos. Some people are actually too insecure to handle a special needs dog. They take it personally if the dog doesn't come to them or let them pet it. You, however, know it isn't personal, and you have no ego involved in your relationship with your dogs. You're coming from a much different place regarding these animals than someone like your niece is. And thank goodness for folks like you who help dogs like Jaya and Haha have the best lives they possibly can. :)
 

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I just wanted to say your post made me quite emotional.

Bless you for taking in Jaya and HaHa, they are so lucky to have you. The fact that she comes when you call her name and acknowledges you when you come home, that that's enough for you really got me, I'm such an emotional wreck today sorry haha!

The fact that she does those things and never did before, shows how far she's come, don't ever feel like you need to explain to people why, you have saved the lives of these two special needs dogs and I couldn't commend you enough for that.
 
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I totally feel for you. A few years ago I took in a dog that wasn't socialized and had been rescued out of a house fire. When I met her I couldn't touch her but over time she and I formed a very close bond. She's more of a one person dog, though she does enjoy playing with my husband here or there and she does like a few of our friends that she knows.

My husband's family seriously dislike her and they can't understand why anyone would want a dog like that. To me she's just who she is and she's perfect. I'm not fond of dogs who are overly friendly anyways. She's perfect for me and she loves me. That's all the matters.
 

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It's the only thing I agree with CM about, on a few of the episodes I've seen he always says to the owners "sometimes you don't get the dog you want, you get the dog you need". Let me reiterate, that is the ONLY thing he says that I agree with!

I had a dog that was a mental case and a lemon - though she was much more biddable than Tessa is - so when I looked for a new dog I wanted a Lassie or littlest Hobo type .

The prefect, quiet, calm, biddable, confident, and love everything personality. I got Tessa instead. Tessa, who is afraid of the wind if it blows in the wrong direction. Tessa, who chooses the people she trusts carefully. Tessa who enjoys singing the song of her people at 3 am. Tessa, the dog with anxiety issues and the dog who has determined every cat we meet, will in fact, love her and be her newest Bff, even if they are not so inclined.

Is she the dog that I wanted, hell no. Is she the dog I needed, yuppers. Is she my soul dog? maybe. What I do know is she definitely holds a piece of my soul.

Jaya, I'm sure, is that for you and I would like to say thank you for taking on the work of a difficult dog - they are, after all, the most rewarding dogs to have.
 
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Zody was not abused, was never abandoned, and was very loved by my friend when he was given to me. His problem was that his socialization as a puppy was very mismanaged and he decided that it was best to try and scare the scary people away. His problem also is that he's incredibly loyal.

So I adopted an incredibly loyal, well loved, anti social dog who was prepared to wait for my friend to come back and get him, he tolerated me, he accepted the care that I gave him but never really showed me any affection. When I came home I was lucky if he glanced up at me. Yeah, why did I adopt him? I questioned that one myself a few times.

Now even though he's still loyal to my friend and LOVES to see her, he also loves me and because I had to wait around 8 months for that to happen I treasure it. He's slowly learning that he doesn't have to bark at people and it makes me so proud when he looks at someone then back at me for his treat rather then barking and lunging. Yesterday he actually didn't react at all to two people whom he considers arch enemies (one tried to pet him while he was barking and growling, the other used to always walk past his window), and I was silently cheering. One of the people actually asked if he was sick since he was 3 feet from her and not lunging and barking. It's the first time he's ever been that calm with her.

He'll never be a perfect dog, but is there such a thing? He's smart, loving, loyal as can be, funny, and if he becomes someone's friend he does so with all his little doggy heart, but yeah.... he's also an anti social brat with a fear aggression issue.
 
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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thanks for your comments everyone.

I know my niece didn't mean anything wrong when she said that, but I've heard that phrase so many times now, and not just with Jaya...but when I adopted dogs that were anywhere from 5 to 8 years old. Except then the sentence was more like 'Why would you want....a dog that old". Jaya was both an older dog, and so fearful /feral...so double whammy there.

Still... I get it, that most people don't want the hassle of dealing with a dog with issues, but I still think that instead of questioning someone who's willing to deal with a dog that's not normal...they could find it in themselves to offer up some positive feedback, rather than question what I have for a pet. Especially, since Jaya isn't dangerous, nor causing problems. She's just not a friendly dog as far as trusting people and greeting them...she shys away and she sits and watches from a distance. No growling no aggressive stance in her body. She's a good dog.

I love Jaya and HaHa because they are my companions and I love their personalities.

Jaya's whole personality isn't one of being scared...although that is what most people see because they are not around her long enough. She has little things that she does that is very endearing. She bows to me now in the mornings...a greeting, especially when I ask her if she wants to go outside. And she wags her tail too when happy....she never did that for almost 7 months after I adopted her.
When she's relaxed, I love to watch her eyebrows jump up and down as she watches HaHa play, or studies me while I'm sitting in my chair reading or at the computer. She has an adorable little black area under her nose that makes it look like she has a mustache and that makes me smile...lol.

Anyway, I do love her and find her pleasing to look at and we can now look at each other in the eyes and she doesn't feel fear, I can see expectation now in her eyes....like she's aware that eye contact now usually means a good thing.

Sorry to ramble, but I have mentioned things like this to my family from time to time about how happy I am with Jaya and her progress and I still hear comments like today. It kind of got me down. But I knew some here would understand.

Thanks for making me feel better again.

Stormy
 

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@StormyPeak I have said this before & I will repeat it, you have given your dogs the life they absolutely deserve! Yes, it's upsetting when people say unfair things about your dogs, it's just ignorance on their part. Continue to live the life you love with the dogs you love, they are your reward, you don't need the approval of humans :huddle:
 

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Stormypeak, About all I can say, is, anyone you have to explain that to, probably won't ever understand. I can only imagine the immense satisfaction you get from just giving these guys such a good caring home and life. And then there are the rewards of seeing the incremental tiny step improvements over time.
 

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"sometimes you don't get the dog you want, you get the dog you need".
Pretty much!
Callie has allergies and is at the vets every month or so, did I want that? No, course not but she's exactly what I needed at the time. We had just been robbed so my anxiety was at an all time high and I was terrified of leaving the house. She got me through that, I had to leave the house and take her out and do all these things to make sure she was happy and in turn, that made me happy.
Pip was next, she keeps me on my toes. She's this fun little adventurous pup who helped Callie see that the world isn't so scary and would always greet a dog first and essentially distract them from Callie - granted, she's not exactly what I needed but she helped Callie and that helped me.
And Grem. My darling boy. He's the one who keeps me grounded. He's so relaxed and just happy to.. to be. To exist. He helps me slow down a little, or a lot compared to how fast paced my life was with the two spit-fires Callie and Pip.

I can understand when people ask "why would you want a dog like that" in relation to Callies allergies or Grems DA issues but honestly most of the time they ask that about Callie and Pips energy levels. I have two very high energy dogs and honestly, I adore them for it! When Grem came along I had no idea what to do with his low energy.
 

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I already dealt with this with my rescued pit mix and my deaf BC/Aussie, but with my new deafblind Aussie puppy people say some terrible things, like she should be put down, I am abusing her by keeping her alive, she will be dangerous and will never be able to do anything a "normal" dog can do. I think the best we can do is love them for who they are and what they bring us and disregard people who don't have enough love in their hearts to understand something that isn't perfect may be perfect to someone else.
 

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My therapist asked me this same question upon adopting my newest project. It was in a therapeutic setting, the purpose of which is to get me to think about why I do the things I do.

For me, I do it because it's my way of telling the world that there can be untold treasures in less than obvious places. Growing up, I had behavior issues of my own, my mother took an active role in making a bad situation worse. My dad, sometimes he was there for me, but he was passive to the point of keeping us both in a bad situation. My mother isn't in my life to see what I do with dogs. But I don't do any of it to prove her wrong, her absence is always welcome. But my dad sees it. He's perpetually blown away with the positive impact I can have. At the end of the day, I do what I do to sort of validate my own worth as a person. It's a sort of an honoring of my inner child, who wanted to be loved for who she was. Something I didn't get much of from either parent. So I toil away, loving my dogs, loving myself. I tell my newest dog, who has anxiety issues, "You kind. You smart. You special." He probably thinks I'm crazy, but I have noms and give good body rubs. Why not stick around?! Lol!:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
What a great New Year's gift Jaya gave to me tonight... that 'feeling in my heart' that makes it swell with pride for her....

Tonight for the first time, she actually took a non-food item from me and 'played' with it a little. I had a toilet paper core in my hand, and was going to throw it away as I was cleaning the bathroom, and the phone rang. So I walked out and answered the land-line phone, forgetting I still had that core in my hand.

After I hung up, I looked down and saw Jaya sniffing the core...so I turned it and held it out to her like it was a bone. She actually took it....wagged her tail and laid down on the floor and proceeded to shred it. I just sat down on the recliner and watched, trying not to laugh out loud and disturb her...but I was also smiling and crying too. She looked so relaxed and was behaving like a 'normal' dog...inside...the...house!

I have seen her pick up stuff outside upon rare occasions and chew or play with it for a very short time...but never ever in the house. I've tried many times to offer her a toy, but she shied away from it. After she destroyed the roll, she got up and shook her self and then bowed to me...her sign that she's happy and also an indicator that she would like to go outside. I let her outside with HaHa and then cleaned up the shredded cardboard core.

This all just came up out of the blue. I'm so pleased she's feeling relaxed enough to lay on the carpet and play a little without looking around as if someone was going to come hurt her.

I wanted so much to take a photo of her using my Kindle that was next to me as I sat in the recliner but I was afraid to move much....afraid I would scare her into getting up and shying away from her 'toy'.

Stormy
 

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That's so amazing to hear, @StormyPeak ! I'm so excited for you and Jaya, making such progress!
 
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StormyPeak, thank you for this post. It came at a much needed time. My daughter has a dog that somebody recently said she should "rehome" or euthanize. They say he is too much trouble and there are much better dogs out there. Well phooey! We love him, plain and simple. We don't ask for perfection or anything close to that.
 
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