This is Charley. He is not available for adoption at the moment, but is working hard to get there.
While he was very much loved with the best intentions in mind, he was not provided the structure he needed to set up for success, such as mutually respected boundaries and confident leadership and guidance. This led him to become insecure in ways that weren’t always outwardly obvious, but sometimes culminated into some fear-based aggression behaviors.
This does not mean that Charley is an aggressive dog, but rather, when acting on the instinct during moments of high stress, chooses a fight response rather than flight as a means of survival. We don’t blame him, or any other dog with similar responses for that matter. As humans, we too have flight or fight responses. When we choose the latter, it is known as self-defense. Sadly however, when a dog reverts to a fight response even as a preemptive warning, they are often the culpable party.
When Charley arrived at his foster home he was completely wound up. The slightest movement would send him into a frenzy and he could not relax. It took nearly a full day for him to decompress from a level of “frenzied” to “high strung”. The following few days were focused on simply helping him create positive associations with concepts as simple as a stranger’s presence (aka, foster mom and dad) while maintaining respectable boundaries.
It was clear from the very beginning Charley is a little Einstein who picks things up very quickly with minimal effort. He has slowly been learning that humans will lead him, so he doesn’t need to feel insecure or step up to be a reluctant leader. He is understanding humans will take charge and keep him from harm’s way. Everyday, he is finding he is braver than he knows.
We at FKD often compare dogs to children. While in some ways we have to allow dogs to be dogs just as we allow “kids to be kids”, parental guidance is still needed to steer them in the right direction, whether as parents of humans or dogs. In Charley’s case, doing right by his humans was a sort of security he craved which relieved a lot of emotional stress.
Charley is now learning doggy manners; just as human children do. He sits and waits for his meals, earns his treats and rewards (such as throwing the ball in a game of fetch) and waits politely at doorways. This may not be the structure needed for every dog, as all dogs have different needs, but it certainly has been for Charley, who’s little Einstein brain needs to be challenged and mentally stimulated.
He has made leaps and bounds, but still has some work to do on his path to success. He puts his best paw forward and excels more than he gives himself credit for. Follow along on Charley’s journey as we continue to learn more about him, for him, about ourselves, and for each other.
Written by Sara Liao, Board of Director & Adoption Manager