Emily - A Rescued Dog Success Story

27 March 2014

Emily was about 2 or 3 years old when we found her in November 2001 wondering along in the middle of the road just outside our village in a state of near collapse. She was literally skin and bone with most of her fur having fallen out due to severe mange. It did not take us long at all to get hold of her and get her into the back of the car. She offered no resistance - it was like she had simply given up. 

Our first thought was to phone TEARS, as we felt that they were the best people to help. We were advised to take her straight to St Francis veterinary clinic, where she stayed for one week receiving excellent veterinary care. We then took her home and tried to introduce her to a normal life. By that stage TEARS had managed to confirm that Emily was a dog in a case that they had been called out to investigate, as the neighbours had reported her being beaten regularly and living in appalling conditions. It seemed that somehow the owners got wind of the situation and dumped her before TEARS arrived. Everything that we saw confirmed this story, as Emily was absolutely terrified of everything. 

For the first few days she did not wag her stump of a tail even once. She simply sat in a corner on an old blanket we had given her and watched the world with wary eyes. The first contact she made with me was on the third day: I was sitting quietly on the floor nearby wondering how on earth to begin to bond with this poor, abused creature, when she slowly crawled towards me. She got close enough to rest her head on my lap and then just lay there. 

From that moment things started to change. I noticed a sort of contentment come over her when I patted her or tried to brush all the mangy scale from her skin. She would almost melt at a gentle touch and never seemed to grow tired of affection. However, Emily had many behavioural problems: She would run away if you picked up any object in your hand, vomit if she went in the car, bark and spin circles if the telephone rang, steal food at every opportunity, escape from the property to try to find us if we went out, snap if she was cornered by a stranger and she even tended to want to “rescue” floating things from water (including a little boy whom she hauled out of the lagoon by his T-shirt!). 

All in all life with Emily was not easy and we knew that there was lots of work to be done. As soon as possible, before her fur had even grown back, I started taking Emily along to training classes. Emily thrived on the positive training techniques and her confidence started to grow. With reward training (particularly the clicker method), Emily began to realise that she did have some control over what happened to her i.e. she could make good things happen (praise and treats) by performing certain exercises. Gradually she stopped behaving like a helpless victim and started trying all sorts of things to see what wonderful rewards she could get out of me. 

As people at the club made a fuss of her and fed her, she began to view new people in a positive light and was soon good at soliciting affection and treats from almost everybody! Emily progressed so quickly after that, that in July 2002 she achieved her Canine Good Citizen Certificate and went on over the next few years to win several rosettes in obedience competitions. 

Emily became a dog that enjoyed life to the full: she loved being patted by all people, was completely ball-mad, played enthusiastically with other dogs and was completely devoted to her “mommy”. She was really the most easy-going and well-behaved dog we have ever had! Because of Emily’s sweet and gentle nature, as well as her love of affection, I decided in 2005 to have her assessed as a “Pets As Therapy” dog. 

She passed the test with flying colours and for several years visited a home for the elderly and a school for the mentally challenged. Emily loved her new job and she was a great hit with the elderly and children alike. 
Emily was truly a rescued dog success story - we often used to whisper in her ear that she was the best dog in the world, ever!  

Article written by Emily’s mom: Taryn Blyth
CAPBT SA Practitioner Member