Behavioral Success Cases
Phillip finally hits the jackpot! (April 2016)
It took 2 long years for Phillip to finally make it into his forever home. His story is just one example of our work but a particularly striking one. It took an immense amount of love, patience, rehabilitation, vet care, and support from people like you to fully transform Phillip from a neglected, reactive dog to a more balanced, happy, companion animal with a bright future.
Phillip’s story started back in March 2014 when CHR volunteers went to a Maryland shelter to pick-up a dog coming into our foster program. He was surrendered to the shelter because his owner had been stabbed and the extended family declined to claim him even though they knew he would be euthanized. A shelter representative took the CHR volunteer to look at a fearful, little dog that was not going to make it out of the shelter due his fear of strangers. Phillip was balled up in the corner of his kennel and shook and growled when the volunteer tried to enter. The shelter staff was able to take Phillip out of the kennel but he was still clearly frightened and overwhelmed.
In addition to fear of strangers, Phillip suffered from obsessive-compulsive behavior, separation anxiety, and exhibited post traumatic behavior symptoms. He would frequently spin and scream for extended periods. Wanting to give Phillip a chance, CHR took him into our foster program where he was medically treated. His multiple symptoms warranted the use of prescription drugs along with holistic supplements to ease his anxiety. He was also seen by a positive behavior trainer for help with his socialization and behavioral issues. Phillip slowly improved but his past demons never fully healed. Phillip’s obsessive-compulsive behavior finally drove him over the edge and he bit off most of his tail.
The behavioral problems Phillip experienced prior to biting his tail off were nothing compared to the emotional meltdown he experienced after the tragic experience he went through with losing his tail.
After surgery to stitch his tail closed, Phillip would continually shriek and spin trying to bite off the remaining part of his tail. His blood-curdling shrieks could be heard a block away. We decided to remove the rest of his tail to prevent more carnage. With heavy sedation, Phillip rested the next few weeks of his recovery but his spinning and high-pitched cried continued.
We at CHR have never seen such heart-wrenching and disturbed behavior in a rescue dog. It was difficult for us to watch Phillip in such mental agony. There were times that our volunteers wondered if humanely euthanizing Phillip would be best to free him from his suffering.
However, there was always one question that always returned to our minds. What if Phillip gets better over time? We know that healing dog behavior problems takes time, in some cases years. So, our fosters continued to support Phillip through his recovery. And several months later, we witnessed Phillip starting to improve.
Over a year into his foster stay, Phillip went from having OCD spinning episodes, 70% of the day to 20%. He went from being fearful of people to warming up to guests and being a loving little boy. His reactivity to being groomed has improved with the use of a positive reinforcement groomer working with him through his reactive behaviors. Adoptee applicants came and went for Phillip because we had to be 100% honest about his history and behavior problems. We can’t blame people because it’s natural to want a well-balanced furbaby to add to their families.
However, after his second year in rescue, we noticed something amazing.The number of problematic behaviors Phillip previously had dropped in half! We were no longer discussing as many issues with potential applicants. And most recently, Phillip landed himself in a permanent forever home!! His new owners know his history and continue to give him his daily medication and holistic supplements. His OCD outbursts rarely happen now and only to specific triggers that his new owners work to minimize.
CHR provided his new owners with a 2-hour behavioral consultation and treatment plan to prepare them for Phillip’s arrival. We also encouraged them to continue to communicate with us whenever needed to tackle any transitional or other issues. They took us up on the offer and had over 10 hours of phone consultation time with our dog trainer. Phillip may never be a normal companion animal without his own quirky issues. He is a unique little boy that had a rocky start in life, but he is now showered with love and attention in his new home and accepted for the special boy that he is. And that is why we all do what we do, right?
It’s important for this rescue to focus on the dog’s needs as a whole. Addressing a dog’s emotional health, medical health and emotional health is the foundation of what drives this rescue forward to reach more animals that need help. Slowing down to focus on the needs of the animal gives the animal more individualized attention which prepares them for adoption.
This individualized attention gives the dog a singular identity and overall worth. They aren’t a number or statistic anymore, but a sentient being whose emotions and needs matter. By addressing and understanding their emotional, medical and behavioral needs, a rescue dog can transition smoothly into a new home with very little bumps along the way because their emotional, medical and behavioral needs are being addressed accurately.
It took a village to help rehabilitate this sweet little boy and we cannot begin to thank the Crosspointe Vet staff, groomers, over a dozen volunteers and our CHR supporters for helping this special dog into a new forever home. The dedication of our volunteers and supporters help us continue our mission to provide one-on-one support to every dog that enters our foster program no matter how many months or years it takes to rehabilitate and find them a home. So from Phillip and CHR, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Always seek help from a positive-reinforcement trainer when you run into trouble with your dog with behavior problems.
For involved behavioral issues take the extra step by seeking out a canine behaviorist .