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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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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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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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