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Ode to Rooster

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Hello everyone,

It’s been one year since I rescued my middle-aged BC, Rooster. And boy what a year it’s been. 
I felt the need to pay an homage to my special boy, and this seemed like the best place to share. For anyone struggling with their rescue, I hope that his story can be a source of hope for you. I never thought I’d own a BC, mostly out of pure respect for their drive and energy, but I couldn’t let this one go once we met. He immediately attached himself to me, and I’ve never been so deeply adored by another creature. 

My husband and I found Rooster above a canyon in the desert backcounty, 50 miles down a dirt road with no one in sight, just an old collar. We discovered that he used to herd, that he had been given away, and subsequently (our best guess) abandoned. We were packing up to head home, and I hardly had to ask him to load up. He spent the rest of the ride with his head out the window or curled up at my feet. 

He had ear infections and ticks filling both ears, his front teeth were cracked from chewing on kennel wire and he needed 5 broken and rotten teeth removed. But all in all, he was a healthy dog. For months he was skittish, afraid to train, scared of touch anywhere besides his head and shoulders, rarely played, snapped at a few people during inappropriate encounters, and would quite literally squeal and run out of the room if you accidently bumped his bum or pet him for “too long”. 
He constantly approached us seeking attention, but didn’t quite know how to respond appropriately once he got it and he would wince when a hand would reach to pet him. I could tell there was a dog in there fighting for love and stability, but he would pull away when it got too close. For weeks I questioned whether I could handle his past trauma, he was so put out and afraid. 

Over the course of the year he became a pretty standard “house dog”. 
He became housebroken [this also involved learning how to cross thresholds, sometimes still a struggle with doorways???] and relearned all common obedience commands.
We’ve gone to a professional trainer and agility. We’ve gone canyoneering, paddle boarding, backcountry skiing, backpacking, and mountain biking. We can walk through our neighborhood perfectly off leash. He now loves the game of fetch. He watches me while I garden. He grumbles and squeaks, enjoys alone time, and snuggles in his bed peacefully while we are working. 

I like to joke that Rooster excels in everything besides social situations. But that isn’t entirely true anymore. I made my expectations around Rooster perfectly clear with my friends. It took months of very slow encounters for him to gain trust in people, and it's constant work. There are still some he steers clear of, but I do not care to have him “like” everyone. I’m just so proud of how far he’s come socially. He enjoys pets now. He’s excited when people come over. He leaves situations that are uncomfortable, and he looks to me for guidance. He breaks out into full body wiggles and tail wags. He’s become a cuddler, primarily in the last few weeks. Side hugs are his jam, and sometimes he even lays on my lap. Rather than showing his belly submissively, he asks for belly rubs. I can scratch his back and his rear, touch his tail and his paws. He’s still a bit awkward through all of it, but when he’s done, he casually walks away. 

Since childhood I dreamed of rescuing a dog. I never imagined I’d get so lucky to find one like him. His attentiveness and sensitivity are beautiful and his athleticism and intellect blow me away.
Thank you, Rooster, for making my life more complex, yet so filled with love. 




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The second photo says it all for both of you.  Thanks for sharing the first year of your journey, yours and Rooster's hard work toward a wonderful outcome, and the joy of making those irreplaceable connections.  Please keep us posted!


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Wonderful story, thank you!  While not as extreme, we went through a similar process after we adopted our Australian shepherd mix Buddy.  He was 15 months old, had been abused, and was withdrawn with many fear triggers.  He is now nearly twelve, and still surprises us with positive changes in his behavior.  It keeps getting better year after year--you can enjoy this for many years to come.

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I've said it time and again, it's the toughest ones (behaviorally speaking) that teach us the most. It is a feeling like no other witnessing a formerly traumatized dog go from constant high alert/fear/anxiety to developing trust, feeling relaxed and gaining confidence.  It's all on a spectrum of course, but every bit of progress is cause for celebration.  Congratulations!

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