This past spring ... I decided I wanted to get an apartment dog. I did my Petfinder search, and after contacting a few shelters, I settled on a dog named Fannie from the Maple Hill Farm Toy Breed Rescue in Butler, Ohio. The dogs at this shelter come largely from puppy mills, or commercial breeding facilities. Basically, dogs are raised to be bred, live their entire lives in small cages, and have very little human contact. They don't live with a family, they aren't given love, and they oftentimes breed until they die.
This is the picture I fell in love with.
Fannie (or as I now call her, Izzy) came from such a breeder when she was three years old. She clearly had had no human contact, because simply being touched or held caused her to shake all over. She was at the Maple Hill Farm Toy Breed Rescue for three years by the time I found her.
When I took her home, she was still terrified of people. She hated me. Flat out hated. She hid in her crate, and then when I took the crate away, her corner 24/7. For the first three days, she wouldn't go to the bathroom. She was so terrified of being outside, that she ran immediately to the door. She had no clue what a leash was for, and she freaked out every time it brushed against her. Her heart pounded and her teeth chattered in fear when I held her, and she was terrified of toys and stuffed animals. And she really really hated me.
At that point, I didn't think Izzy would ever be a normal dog. I wasn't sure she would ever learn to play, or take walks or cuddle. She sat in her corner all day and all night. If I picked her up and brought her to my lap, at the very first opportunity, she would bolt. It was pathetic. Of course, I still loved her. But she hated me.
Over time though, she started to get better. She still hung out in her corner at my apartment, but when I brought her to friends' houses, I was all the new rage with her. She couldn't get enough of sitting on my lap, even sleeping in bed with me! Apparently, I was the safest place in the room. But again, as soon as we returned home, she was back to her corner. Still, there were some lasting improvements: she knew how to walk on a leash, she loved to eat treats, and she didn't shake when you held her. And she was still the sweetest and most adorable thing around. So there was progress.
Now, it has been seven months since I adopted her, and she is a completely different dog. She's happy, and she plays. Time has helped, of course, but a big part of this recent success has been my most recent (and for now, last) adoption: Nalla. I found Nalla on Petfinder. She was heartworm positive and needed a home to live in while she was undergoing treatment. I volunteered to foster her, and after successfully completing her heartworm treatment, I officially adopted her.
Nalla is not sure what to make of me. She likes to follow me around outside, and she is happy to take my treats, but I still make her nervous. She runs away when I get too close to her, and she huddles down when I try to pick her up. Nonetheless, she has made an incredible impact on Izzy. Izzy has learned to play (though not with toys; my dogs like socks), and jealousy pushes her out of her comfort zone to seek attention when I'm focusing on Nalla.