Ike came to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) with a shock collar embedded in his neck. At 18 months old, he’d already lived in several homes and his most recent owner had only known him one day before she realized he needed more help than she could provide. It was not surprising that Ike was afraid of people, and his way to keep himself safe was a deep, resounding bark at anyone who approached him.
But at the AWLA, we know that sometimes, it just takes time, patience and understanding to show an animal that they are safe and that the world is a place in which they are meant to be loved. We first removed the collar that had been causing him so much pain and injury, treating the wounds to his neck. We brought in a behavioral expert to meet Ike, and our staff followed the guidance provided to help Ike realize that these people in his new surroundings just wanted to be his friends. Within weeks, he made a new best friend in one of our Animal Care staff, and after that, Ike blossomed.
But he still had some growing to do before he was ready to move once again, ideally to a home with his brand new family. We found more ways to introduce Ike to life as a pet: we introduced him to other dogs and let him take part in “play group,” which gave him an outlet to run and play that he may have never had. We helped him acclimate to new people by having every passer-by toss him a treat; after all, how can you be scared of the people who bring you yummy snacks? Every day, Ike tried something new, and every day, we saw him get closer and closer to being ready to find his family.
In August, only two months after Ike joined us at the AWLA, we knew he was ready. He had grown by leaps and bounds, healed, made friends and gained the courage to venture out into another new home — this time, hopefully for good. When he was introduced to his new family, they understood that Ike would still need their assistance in greeting the world, but with the skills he learned at the AWLA, he had a paw up to begin the next phase of his life.