Monday, June 20, 2011

How Jagger Lost His Swagger

These dogs will break your heart in one way or another.

In August 2008, a litter of lab-mastiff mix pups was rescued from a high-kill shelter in SC and came up with the transport system. One of the puppies, named Riley, was fostered by a volunteer and then adopted out. He was renamed Jagger, and he grew up to be quite a big boy at 70 pounds. His family, which at first was just a mom and pop, began to grow too. Jagger did well with the first baby. In fact, he loved that baby so much that he wanted to protect him from any harm. The family began to worry because of Jagger's protective tendencies. With the family expecting another baby, their worries escalated. They decided Jagger had to go back to the rescue. With heavy hearts, they returned him on Saturday.

The truth of the matter is that failed adoptions happen for a variety of reasons—some more understandable than others. Every person may hold his/her our own opinions about the right and wrong reasons for giving up a dog. One of the volunteers says she tries not to judge when dogs are returned. And she's right. We're here for the animals. If we wanted to judge human morals, we're in the wrong business. We try to do our best in screening adopters to make sure that the dog fits the family's lifestyle because those are adoptions most likely to last. A very small percentage of animals end up being returned. In other cases, shit, as they say, happens. 

Back to the story...
Because of our schedule over the next two months, we agreed to take Jagger in as a short-term foster. We weren't too sure what to expect of him, but on Saturday, Jagger appeared to be more of a shy, undersocialized dog than an aggressive one. He cowered as people approached near him. He turned the other way if people tried to pet him.

Once we got him home, Jagger spent all of Saturday night shaking under our dining room table. He has eaten half of a meal since then. Instead of eating the food, he pushes "dirt" over it with his nose in an attempt to save it for a rainy day. (Remember how Jack did this with his bones?) It seems like a typical stray behavior, but this dog was anything but a stray. Is it a resource-protecting situation—just as the baby was? Here's a video:

The good news is that Jagger has come out from under the dining room table and explored other rooms of the house. He walks very well on leash and loves to be outside. In fact, when we take walks, his posturing suggests he's a confident dog. Jagger does better with women, so he's warmed up nicely to me. Jonathan spent the entire day with Jagger yesterday, and they seemed to establish a good bond. Until Jonathan came home from work today. Jagger cowered, then peed on his foot. Classic submissive urination? 4 paws forward, 2 paws back.

I'm sure part of it is that, after 3 years in the same home, he just has no clue how he ended up here. That will just take time. Do you have any advice to share in working with shy and/or undersocialized dogs? We plan to boost his confidence with praise for just about everything he does and to practice greeting people with treats. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. poor Jagger. Definitely sounds undersocialized and very scared.

    It sounds cliche, but time is the best medicine. That and associating something marvelous with everything he's unsure about (ie. UMBRELLA! mm cheese. GARBAGE CAN! mmm chicken. NEW PERSON! mmm hot dog)