This is my beautiful dog Charlie. She’s a mixed breed with some Australian Terrier and something else that the vet can’t quite identify. We also have no idea how old she is – probably somewhere between about eight and twelve.
I fell in love with Charlie about six years ago on a visit to the Animal Welfare League. She had come from a home where she was badly beaten and terrorised by the children of the family. She has a crooked spine from being kicked as a puppy and a whole bunch of fears and phobias. I was warned that she would need lots of TLC and that she shouldn't be around children – not because she was a danger to them, but because she was frightened of them.
Charlie by Colmo
When Charlie first came to me she was underweight and highly strung. She would shiver in an unfamiliar situation and pee herself whenever she heard a loud noise, or when anyone paid any kind of attention to her. She would back off if I got too close to her face.
In the six years since Charlie has lived with me she has never played. She shows no interest in toys or in interacting with other animals, and for some reason known only to her, she has a particular aversion to small, white dogs. All she wants to do is to follow me around and sleep at my feet which suits me fine. We both enjoy a quiet life.
Charlie Dog with my grandchildren - by Colmo
I have several young grandchildren and from the first day they came into my home I introduced them slowly and carefully to Charlie. It took a very long time for her to trust them but now she gets excited when they arrive. She also now lets them cuddle her and brush her fur and has a little sulk when they leave.
It has taken all of these years for Charlie to begin to relax and to trust people. She is just now learning to do small tricks like ‘sit,’ ‘wait’ and ‘drop.’ She lets me lay my head on her like a pillow now and even licked my nose last week. A major milestone!
Charlie the Pirate Dog - Complete with Eye-patch - by Colmo
Adopting a rescue dog is always a gamble. In most cases we know nothing of their life before we met them. Knowing Charlie’s story has made it a little easier for me to understand her behaviours and to know how to handle them.
If you are considering a rescue dog, be prepared for a challenge. It’s like the proverbial box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Mine is more like a licorice all-sort but I love her unconditionally and wouldn't part with her for a million dollars.
Have you adopted a rescue pet from a shelter? How did you help your pet settle into your family? Share your story with us!
I got a rescue dog three weeks ago.. I took my aussie who is ten with me the seemed to get along just ignored each other.. when I got them home my rescue dog is jealous of my older dog and nips him and snarls at him and is causing my aussie to lick all the fur off the inside of his back leg... what should I do?
Good question. I just happened to see a TV show a few days ago called 'It's me or the dog.' There are always some valuable tips on this show. In this particular episode, the owners had a similar problem to yours, so the trainer directed one person to hold one dog on the leash and another to hold the other dog. They had them together in the same room, and when the aggressive dog paid attention to the timid one, the owner didn't react but ignored him, but when he turned away from the timid dog or lost interest - even for a moment - he was praised and got a treat. Within a short while the aggressor learned that leaving the timid one alone brought him praise and reward. He very quickly came to accept that there was no threat from the older dog. Worth a try.