The first day I picked up Snoopy from our local Humane Society, despite his broken leg, he seemed a typical rambunctious and happy puppy….until I loaded him in my car. He began to howl (like really loud), squirm and was clearly very agitated. If he wasn’t harnessed in a car seat it would have been chaos. He calmed back down when we got out of the car. I ended up taking him to the vet within a few hours as it was pretty clear he was having pain issues. When we got back in the car…it was the same howling and anxiety all over again…which then recurred every time we got in the car throughout his several week ordeal (broken leg that was eventually amputated). It was clear that he was associating riding in the car with bad things…who could blame him with all he has been through in his short little life. Years ago I adopted a two year lab (Sparky) who had extreme anxiety in the car…it made life a lot more complicated and it took years to work him through the anxiety. No chance I was going to let this happen with Snoopy.
So this week we started working on changing his car ride association…I wanted to make a car ride mean something good for him. We spent a few days just walking out to the car a few times per day and I gave him bits of ham treats when we got to the car and said “car ride” (we never got in the car). Then we graduated to actually getting in the car, with ham treats and “car ride” but getting out immediately. Then we graduated to taking really short car rides, with ham treats and “car ride” being repeated the whole time.
Today…I took Snoopy out on his first big errand run…we left the ham behind. He was a different dog in the car. He sat quietly in his car seat…no howling…no squirming. He did great sitting politely and greeting new people at Lowe’s…he went to the skin clinic and charmed pretty ladies and he went out for his first puppuccino. I couldn’t be more proud of him.
It has been a really long time since I have had a puppy in the house. I know how crucial their first few months are in terms of proper socialization and Snoopy’s most impressionable months were spent getting his leg horribly broken, dying under anesthesia once (waking up blind for awhile) and finally having to heal from a successful amputation of the leg. He has some social “catch up” to do but he is doing great.
I am always amazed at how trusting dogs who have been through hell are. Snoopy has every reason to be cautious of people but Snoopy gives everyone the benefit of the doubt (unless they are pushing a shopping cart…need to work on that). His wagging tail and charming personality are like a balm in a harsh world. The world needs more Snoopy.
If you are looking for pet rescue themed artwork or handmade pet sympathy cards please check out my ETSY shop!