Worries of a Rescue Dog

One of my best friends came over last night to meet Merlin and get a dog fix. She’s got great, low-key energy, so I thought Merlin would be very comfortable with her.

The rest of the pack went nuts when she came in, doing their usual leaping and barking. Merlin hung back, head low, clearly concerned. I let the others out into the fenced yard, and Lauren and I went into the living room to sit down. Merlin followed us, bringing a frisbee for me to throw, but initially didn’t want to approach Lauren. I tossed the frisbee (a small, soft disc that can’t do too much damage inside) a few times, hoping Merlin would relax.

He did sniff Lauren’s hand when she held it out to him. Hind feet positioned way back, tail tucked up under his belly, head low, front legs braced ready to run in case she turned out to be some sort of evil demon. She threw the frisbee for him a few times too – so nice to see his expression lighten up, ears up, eyes wide, tail wagging, body poised to fly.

He did eventually give her a real greeting… ears down, tip of his tail wagging, he moved in closer when she sat on the floor and let her stroke his head. When she stopped, he used his muzzle to flip her hands up so she would pet him again.

I do wonder what exactly scares him. Was he mistreated before he went into rescue? Is it just a lack of socialization when he was younger?

Maybe he’s not yet sure this is permanent, and worries that he’s going to leave yet another safe haven.

I wish I had a way to tell him he’s home.

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6 thoughts on “Worries of a Rescue Dog

  1. All my cats and dogs have been rescues of one kind or another. Thank fully I’ve got them young enough or they have a personality resilient enough not to leave me with these kinds of questions. Merlin will learn over time that yours is a safe forever home. I marveled at your patience and knowledge in helping Merlin work this out.

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    • Thank you. I’ve had about as many rescues as dogs from breeders; the rescue dogs definitely have a different way of looking at the world. Kestry, my Belgian sheepdog took six months to stop getting upset every time a car pulled into the driveway. I’m sure Merlin will reach that point too – it just might take him a bit longer!

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  2. He is so lucky to have found a great home with you! We have rescue cats. One of our cats has been with us since he was probably 5 or 6 weeks (the shelter said 8, but the vet said younger). He’s very skittish. I can’t imagine that he had trauma before we got him that would still make him skittish, even of us sometimes, after 5 years. I’d love to get into his head and find out what he’s thinking.

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    • Something similar happened with a friend’s dog… they adopted him when he was only about four months old, but he still had behavioral problems, including aggression with children. I guess, just like people, they have fears that don’t have a logical basis. I’m with you – I’d love to know what my dogs are really thinking!

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