I'm Proud To Announce...


Staff member
That Zoe is officially REHABILITATED!!!!

For you all to fully understand why I'm officially announcing this, you should hear a little of the back story.

I adopted Zoe the day after my Old Spaniel died, I heard about her in a shelter that I dont trust, so I went to meet her, and knew she needed me. I didn't fall in love... I fell in heartache! She was wretched! Shaved down to the skin, with only a plastic bed, no blankets, in -30C outdoor weather (though she was in an indoor run, it was only just above freezing) She was cold and TERRIFIED! I adopted her on the spot. They had no history, other than she was an owner surrender, and the shelter staff didn't even know her name... if indeed it was one (I suspect this shelter is a front for a Puppy Mill, not a shelter at all... they certainly dont have charitable status)

I suspect that she was a Puppy Mill Breeder Dog, kept in a tiny cage, exposed to nothing... she has all the signs. She was terrified of everything! Even, literally, her own shadow! She would panic at every little noise, would panic if she even heard a kid, would puke in the car, would not let anyone touch her, was afraid to eat near people, wouldn't take a treat, and wouldn't move off a couch if placed there... She had no ideas of her own, and was not a dog, she was a quivering lump of paranoia and fear!

It took months for her to accept a leash without a full blown panic attack, and even then she wasn't comfortable with one until we tried a retractable. It took a year or more before I could touch her without having to corner her first, it took 3 years before hearing her bark, It took 2 years before she took a treat out of our hands, it took 5 years (and a deaf dog) to have her stop "scattering" every time there was an unexpected noise, it took 5 years for her to accept anyone but me or my Mom (and even then it was my Sister), 6 years before allowing a stranger to touch her, 7 years before cuddling with a stranger... There are many many more, recoveries, but I dont have 3 hours to type this up, and you all dont have the time to read it! LOL

In the last Month, Zoe has surprised us over and over again... She accepted moving boxes, packing and weird noises without anxiety, she accepted a 4 day car ride without puking the entire time (only on the first day). She accepted teenagers in her house without hiding, she accepted furniture being moved around, AND a strange man (my uncle) holding her on his lap during the car ride!

And the best part is... She has had absolutely NO PROBLEMS adjusting and coping with the strange house, furniture, people and a 7 year old! She's calm and relaxed, happy and comfortable... Doing a greeting dance for my Sister when she comes home from work, giving kisses and cuddles, jumping on the strange couch, exploring the house and yard without fear.

I am over the moon for her! She is FINALLY a "normal" dog!

It only took 8 years:oops:

YAYYYYY for ZOE! my little STAR!

I just wish I could be there to see it:cry:



Experienced Member
I forget where I read this but...
"Saving one dog won't change the world, but surely the world will change for that one dog" ;)


Honored Member
Staff member
Sara, this post choked me up; I am so happy for you and Zoe!!! Give yourself a HUGE pat on the back for all the work you've done to help her get here. (y) Way to go!


Honored Member
Oh Sara, there aren't even words to tell you how happy I am for Zoe .. and you!!! You both deserve huge congrats for all the hard work. You never gave up on a dog who probably never would have had much of a life, if any, and now look -- she's out there lovin' life, and livin' it!! Hooray to both of you!!! (y)

And what Amateur said above is perfect and couldn't be said any better:
"Saving one dog won't change the world, but surely the world will change for that one dog" How true it is, and you've got the proof!!! :p


Staff member
HA HA you guys, that quote has been on my signature for years!;) I've always gone by that philosophy (y)

I very nearly gave up on Zoe, she was such a mess, and for awhile, I couldn't see any way past her fear, or if there was any hope... I thought about it endlessly, and was nearly at the point of having her pts after 4 or 5 months... She wasn't happy, she couldn't cope, and she wasn't getting better...

But then, something amazing happened, she didn't immediately run away when I came home one day, I couldn't touch her, but she didn't go hide, she looked at me... and I KNEW then that she could be helped... The tears flowed freely that day.

I forget about that moment, for the most part, but when I remember, the feelings of that day are so clear... THAT's the moment I fell in love with Zoe.

My Mom tells me that Zoe is becoming fast friends with Lauren (my sister) and is really enjoying Ottawa, so that makes me very happy!


Honored Member
WHAT an amazing story! i'm so glad i read this! I had to read it twice to be sure i read correctly! I have so many questions. But, i'm so glad for you, and for Zoe, it will make Zoe being so far away less painful, knowing Zoe is happy and comfortable over there. CONGRADULATIONS SARA!!


Staff member
Zoe was comfortable and happy here, in her ordered, regimented, little world, what surprised us was that, when we turned her world upside down and gave it a shake, she didn't come unglued!

Fire away with the questions :)


Honored Member
So Zoe was fearful of objects or ppl, or both? Did you ever have success getting Zoe's object fears reduced, prior to that last month with you when Zoe became comfy about boxes moving?

Buddy had some object fears as well, i found object fears pretty easy to eradicate, but creatures are another thing, but, like most dogs--- Buddy DID generalize objects pretty easily. not creatures, but objects, yes, he could generalize objects.

Getting him used to one umbrella, helped with all umbrellas. Getting him used to one blow dryer, helped with all blow dryers. Getting him used to one plastic bag, helped with all plastic bags.
Since Buddy was not a shy dog, also: Getting him used to one big loud man, helped with all big loud men. Getting him used to one kid, helped with all kids.
did not work that way with dogs, though, darn it! He has to get used to each individual dog one at a time, usually.

Was Zoe ever ppl-aggressive? You mention your joy at finding out Zoe could sit in lap of strange man, how was Zoe about unknown men at your house? Was this fairly unusual for Zoe? How was Zoe around unknown visitors in your home? HOw long ago did you notice the improvement in Zoe? How often was Zoe around unknown ppl, was this fairly rare for Zoe?
oh, nevermind, i just reread your original post up above, there's a more ongoing description of the progress now. wow, amazing, Sara, just amazing.

I'm wondering the impact of the other dogs might have had on Zoe...I've seen some dogs totally morph when new housemate dog is added or removed. Is Zoe the only dog where she is now? My dad's dog, becomes lively and outgoing and seems much happier as only dog, but add in any new dog (is 2nd or 3rd time a new dog has been added) and my dad's dog becomes fairly sullen, seems withdrawn, acts "old". It's night and day for that dog, if he is only dog, vs has dog housemates. OH, Toby loves his housemates, gets on fine, but Toby becomes as lively as a rug when there are other dogs in his house, does not approach ppl if there is any housemate dog.

I've heard of a shy dog, raised side by side with a DA dog, and the shy dog became a DA dog, until DA dog died. then the DA dog died, and the shy dog stopped with his da behavior, after the DA dog died.
of course, those are not same thing as Zoe had, at all, but it does seem sometimes one dog can imitate other dogs, but Zoe was fearful when you got her, and a deaf dog was able to get Zoe over her fear of noises, so is not the same thing.

at any rate, this is just best news ever, Sara, and i know, it must remove some of your worries about Zoe not being beside you, since now Zoe can handle herself around ppl now. (i mean, I know, if my Buddy moved far away, i'd worry the new person might not be able to handle his dog-aggression, kinda thing, and it might re-escalate to previous levels is what i mean) So now that you know Zoe is fine, it must be huge comfort to you and give you much well deserved pride.


Staff member
Zoe has slowly, over time, gotten over fears, slowly calmed down, and slowly quit panicking. She was afraid of everything except other animals, but never aggressive... She'd try to climb the walls to get away from people, but never in a million years, would she even think of biting.

We knew she was alot better, and almost normal, but never dreamed she's take this packing up and moving across the country with as much calm as she has. She has been letting new people touch her (slowly and carefully with no sudden moves) for a year or more now, but being held by a new guy in a hated car? AMAZING!

We've mostly just let Zoe do things when Zoe wants to do things, we cater to her demands (while never dreaming of catering to the other dogs), and allowed her to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. We didn't de-sensitize, we didn't counter-condition, we didn't use calming signals... We let Zoe tell us what she wanted, and what she could deal with and let her say "no I dont want that!" I dont think anything else would have worked for such a severely terrified dog.

I am not exaggerating her fears either... Infact, I've probably understated them.