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For those of you wondering, I wanna tell you the story about a little white dog named Valentine. Everyone knows Beowolf but who is that cute ball of energy in the background? The one flying through the air like a white ghost! Well, that little girl there has a story of her own at 3 years old, so gather round for I have a tail to tell, it starts as a horror story but ends with a happily ever after!
It was any normal day at the clinic in January 2016, our schedule was light and the staff was going about the motions of the day. Our receptionist came to the back and told us there was a new client who was on his way with a dog fight victim. We prepared for the incoming emergency and waited. A woman walks in with a short man behind her carrying a box, the woman was a client of ours and the man was her neighbor, another technician took them into a room and got the history at which point one of my appointments arrived and then back to work for me.
When I came out of the room with my finished appointment and led them to the front desk I saw the two people with the emergency dog fight. I overheard them discussing payment for the day and that the neighbor would cover it, the man seemed uncomfortable, and so I hurried to the back to find out what was going on.
When I entered treatment the girls were already placing a catheter on a little bulldog puppy, her name was Harley, and she was 10 weeks old. She was covered in blood and her ear was mangled, she sat on the table like a good girl and let them place her catheter and take her blood for blood work. She shivered in fear.
Turns out the man had adopted 2 other dogs that fence fight with the woman’s dogs, when this little one got too close and her 2 housemates turned on her. We didn’t get very many details as the woman was worked up.
Surgery went without issues, we had to amputate her left ear and put a couple drains around it along with placing a drain in the crook of her left elbow. We then called to tell the owner how everything went and schedule a pickup time when he alerted us that he wanted to surrender her. He claimed she was “no good” and didn’t want her anymore. Prick. He was also returning the 2 other dogs back to the shelter, good he had no business owning dogs. Suddenly everyone is talking about who is going to take the puppy, by order of elimination I was the only choice. So I took Beowolf aside and explained that mommy was going to take in a puppy who was in need of our help, and I was going to need him to be on board. I put her in my car at the end of the day and he looked at me like wtf! He sulked on the ride home, coming up to the front seat to sniff her and give her the once over. By the time we got to the apartment he warmed up to the idea, so he helped me clean her up and get her settled into her foster home.
Most of our staff was a full house and all the single dog homes were single because their dogs were aggressive. Beowolf I knew would welcome a new puppy, and we recently moved to a bigger apartment, so we had more space. I couldn’t stand to look at her, she broke my heart, not to mention she was ALL WHITE and female. Don’t even get me started, I never wanted a white dog, it was mostly the health issues that correspond and I was not much of a fan for myself.
Also, she was a female, I prefer male animals, I don’t know they just work better for me. My next dog was going to be a solid BLACK male pit bull, but who was I kidding, we don’t pick our dogs they pick us. I knew the second I took her in she would be a foster failure and I wanted Beowolf to be a single dog for a while before we got another dog. It bothered me that he always had to share me with work and other dogs, I wanted it to be me and him for a while. As fate would have it, she came home with me and everyone from work pressured me to keep her. I tried not to get attached and looked for homes for her, but as luck would have it she wouldn’t go to anyone.
She had PTSD from what happened to her, the first night she tried growling at Beowolf (understandably) and she was terrified of men. The next day the woman came in to say good-bye and thank me for taking her in, at which time I asked all the right questions, after all, I was taking in a dog with baggage and this lady was the closest I would ever get to know about her past. Bless this woman for she knew a lot about her.
The man was mean, he kept all the dogs outside. All day, all night, rain or shine with no shelter but a small patio where the 2 bigger dogs pushed the puppy off of (mind you, she is WHITE, skin problems are increased for her). The woman had to force the man to take dog houses she no longer needed which after coaxing he finally allowed her to put them in his back yard. When he did let them in the house the neighbor would hear the dogs yelp and the man yelling at them, then suddenly you would see all 3 dogs run into the backyard.
The woman also saw what happened when the dogs attacked her, she was going out to stop her own dogs when the 2 on the other side of the fence jumped on the puppy. One dragged her across the yard by her ear, which explains why mangled. The other dog bit and chomped, at one point he was pulling on her arm, and they were both thrashing and playing tug with her. The woman screamed helplessly on the other side of the fence, for the man to come out as the puppy shrieked and squealed. When the man did emerge from the house the dogs finally let her go, and she ran off to hide, limping and covered in red blood. She told him to take the puppy to the emergency hospital, and he refused to suggest she will be okay and will “walk it off”. No motherf****** she needed surgery!
To this day I am not sure how she convinced him to bring in the dog, but he stuffed her in a box and came to my clinic. When he signed over ownership to me I gave him the dirtiest looks I could give him, acid built at the back of my throat as I held my tongue from giving him a piece of my mind.
She was “puppy” for about 3 weeks before a name came to me, I need to get to know a dog before naming them and hers hit me suddenly, Valentine. Until that point, I was still hoping someone would take her on as a full-time foster or adopt her. I wouldn’t let work send her to the shelter though the thought crossed my mind, she needed medical attention and her chances of adoption were slim at the location she would go to. I’m glad I didn’t send her there, for the first year of her life she was super defensive and aggressive. I hoped naming her Valentine would let her live to be sweet, more like bloody Valentine! She would lunge after men, women and children, especially dogs!
Beowolf was the ONLY dog she liked, and I was the ONLY human she liked. I tried adopting her to my cousin who was looking for a puppy, but Valentine wanted nothing to do with her. I was heartbroken to see her so fearful and nervous about everyone, EVERYONE! I certainly wasn’t prepared for this, I was used to an enthusiastic dog who loved everyone he met. Lucky for me I had a trick up my sleeve, in the form of dog trainer, he specialized in rehabilitation and aggression. I employed him, however, she wasn’t going to make it easy on us, she is deathly terrified of him, and he never did anything to her. She wouldn’t take treats, she would stop shivering or trying to run away. the moment she hears his voice she shuts down, so how can he rehabilitate her?
It was up to me and only me to help her, under the guidance of my trainer we have worked her over many obstacles, always at her own pace. One thing I knew for sure was that this was going to take the patience of a monk. Fortunately my job allowed me to bring my dogs to work, so she was kenneled with Beowolf in the back, so we can keep an eye on her and I figured if she learned how to live in a kennel it would be good for her, since I never taught Beowolf and it was harder to break him into it later in life. Well, she learned that and then some, she learned she was trapped and thus became defensive of the kennel. Anyone who she saw, she would bark and lunge and snarl at them.
Oh no, I won’t have ANY of that!
A couple of months later I moved to the ranch where I now live, it’s a great place, my trailer is plenty of space for us and a private backyard with 2 kennels! I moved in and fixed everything up, first the backyard and kennels where I began housing them while I was away. I spent the next year of her life socializing her through obedience classes that are held here at the ranch where we both learn how to work together, and she gets over her fear and worry of other dogs.
This helped her so much and her issues with dogs resolved faster than I thought they would, most of it was that I housed her in the kennels here too, getting her used to the environment and being surrounded by dogs that can’t hurt her. She actually now does amazing in the kennels, I can board her if and whenever I need and not worry about her. She is still a little defensive of the kennels if she sees a new dog or someone she doesn’t recognize. When she is outside of her kennel or on a leash she doesn’t show aggression or any worry at all, though I don’t let her greet anyone for sake of her training and another dog’s safety, she’s getting there, but she ain’t home yet.
I have also taken her on outings, hiking and isolated areas where we get plenty of opportunities to practice her obedience as well when we meet others on the trails. My trainer taught me that it’s okay to be her advocate, it’s okay not to let everyone come up and pet my dogs and for that, I am so grateful. It does seem too mean but I need to speak up for my dogs, when Beowolf has enough of crowds he shows me in his body language but that’s because he’s learned I read the signs.
Valentine needed to understand I will do this with her, so for a long time I wouldn’t let people pet her, which was hard because she’s so cute, but many people understood she is in training and frankly they don’t wanna get bit either. Besides, Beowolf was welcoming the attention and people are usually satisfied with petting a WOLF. Over time, she was finally able to welcome people’s attention, slowly. In class, we also go over greeting people with dogs and keeping everyone under control, the classes taught her to trust me, and they taught me how to handle a dog with her worry. It took time but she came around!
Fast forward to now.
The past 8 months have been the most improvement she’s had! Over the cold months, I was taking her with me to work daily as opposed to once in a while. Everyone there loves her as much as Beowolf, they love to greet her and give her treats and then some! When it comes to Valentine’s socialization she can have anything you want to offer her, within reason.
One of the girls at work gave everyone a Milkbone biscuit every day, Valentine would bark in excitement when she saw her come out with biscuits in her hands. Another girl kept goldfish and crackers and cheeses amongst other snacks at her desk so every morning when we walk in, she got treats while I clocked in. Valentine came to know the girl as “French Fry” and acted like I didn’t exist when French fry was there.
I have also been doing much more with Valentine, taking her to Home Depot or Lowes, Petsmart trips and going places where there are people!
She is white with faint spots on the skin.
She has 2 perfectly symmetrical eye patches.
She has one ear, we amputated the left one when she was a puppy after her trauma.
Her middle name is Regina George. If you knew her, you would understand.
The most affectionate with anyone here at the house, or if someone is sitting with her and petting her she climbs in their lap for more love!
Like any bully dog, she is 55 pounds of dead weight when she sleeps!
Yes, I did a DNA test and this is what I found. American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Labrador, Neopolitan Mastiff, Rottweiler! and drumroll please… Pekingese! What! Yep! **Side note: If you’re curious about the mix of your dog I highly recommend doing a DNA test. I prefer Royal Canin or something via the vet because I believe in the best! Regardless, knowing the mix of your dog can be helpful in determining behavior. Here at the ranch we specialize and house all of these breeds and working in a clinic I see many variations so trust me when I say, it all makes sense now! Most of my questions about her were answered when I saw the results.**
She is beautiful to watch run at full speed, and she’s fast! She’s athletic and lots of energy, but she can turn it off and Netflix and Chill at the drop of a hat.
Still worried, but will approach someone slowly she usually warms up to them. Valentine is still terrified of the trainer but is getting over it more and more every day I bring her around him and will even now take treats from him!
She is the most obedient dog ever! The guy who gave her up called her “no good”, I can honestly say he wouldn’t know a good dog if it peed on his leg! She is incredibly smart and pretty easy to train, honestly she mostly just doesn’t wanna be in trouble, so she listens to a fault. Not to mention we work on it in classes and when we go on adventures I use what we learn in class to navigate the world it works! Sometimes her recall needs coaxing, but she gets it.
I wasn’t planning on getting an all WHITE female dog I’m glad it’s her. We still have some work to go but I wouldn’t change the experience for the world, she is a loving member of the family and helping her get over obstacles makes me feel good too. She is a special girl, my little one-eared weirdo. My goal by the end of 2019 is to have her loving Oj because once she lets him in she will fall in love with him like every other dog in the world! He’s eager to win her over as well, he knows as well as anyone how rewarding winning the affection of a worried dog can be. The process has been slow but more and more she is trusting me, over time she gains confidence in herself, with training we both learned how to communicate with each other.
Thanks for reading!
I hope this post inspires some of you who are in the market to give a rescue dog a chance, you never know what diamond in the rough awaits!
For those of you who have a rescue or just complicated dogs, don’t give up on them. Find someone knowledgable to help you but always work at your dog’s pace. Show them respect and you will earn their trust.
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