Meet Chanty, an ALPL dog currently in foster care. I’m privileged to be working with him for the next several months. Keep reading to learn more about him.
Age: 7 months
Male – neutered
Rescue Organization: ALPL
**Currently not available for adoption**
I met Chanty for the first time today. Becky, the Foster and Adoptions Coordinator for ALPL Calgary – and Chanty’s current foster – called on me to help with Chanty’s resource guarding issues. She also told me he is shy around strangers, but once he warms up to them, he’s very cuddly and loving. I was not prepared for the dog I met.
When I arrived this morning, Becky was outside with Chanty, waiting for me. He was double leashed. At the gate, I saw that Chanty was extremely tense; his legs and back were very stiff, his hackles were up, and his tail was tucked almost completely between his legs. He began barking and lunging at me almost as soon as I entered the yard. He mock-charged me several times… and then he began frantically chomping on the grass. When I asked Becky if this was a coping mechanism for him, she said yes.
I kept my distance and observed him covertly. Even the slightest movements on my part sent him into an acute state of panic where he would bark and lunge at me, mock-charge me, shake, and then go for the grass again. Despite turning my head and body sideways and sending him every conceivable calming signal, Chanty did not calm down. After ten minutes of this extreme reactivity, I suggested that we go into the house. Becky had told me Chanty is much calmer inside, and it was quite chilly outside.
Inside the house, Chanty was not calmer. He continued to bark and lunge at me, and he mock-charged me if I attempted to take even one step towards Becky. It was clear to me that the pup has zero trust in humans, so I decided to start with that by offering him treats. Becky handed me a bag of dog cookies, and Chanty went into a panic again. I waited until he stopped barking, and then tossed him a piece of cookie. This was done a few times before Chanty accepted the offerings. Although Becky was with him, he was terrified. A few minutes into the exercise, I made a small movement to shift my position, Chanty panicked, and then he shut down completely. He went behind Becky’s legs. pushed his body as tightly as he could against the wall and a chair, and just sat there and shook.
After observing this for a couple of minutes and just talking with Becky, I tried again to offer Chanty a piece of cookie. Becky was able to bring him forward just enough so that he could face his fear but still feel like he was somewhat safe. In an effort to help put him more at ease, I sat down on a large dog bed on the floor and positioned my body so that I didn’t appear as a threat to him. Then, I tried again to offer him pieces of cookie. Being on the floor did seem to help him, so, for the next two hours, that’s where I stayed. I made no attempts to initiate any physical interaction with him.
Even the smallest movements from me triggered panic attacks. At one point, I offered a piece of cookie to Chanty, but it was too close to my foot, so I reached forward to move it closer to him. Chanty immediately began barking, lunging, and charging at me. Had he been any closer, he would have successfully delivered a serious bite.
After working for two hours with Chanty, several things were made painfully clear to me:
This dog is absolutely terrified of humans, the world, everything in it, and life in general.
This dog has zero trust and zero confidence.
This dog is requires months of intensive therapy just to get him to a point where he can meet just one new person without panicking and resorting to the fear-induced, aggressive behavior he’s been practicing.
I am going to be working with Chanty and Becky for the next several months, beginning Monday, Sept. 14. Sessions will be held twice a week for at least the next several weeks. Progress reports will be posted here and on my Facebook page, and will include photos and videos whenever possible. Also, some sessions will be live-streamed through my Facebook page so that people interested in following Chanty’s journey can see in real time how he is progressing.
PLEASE NOTE: Live-streamed sessions will be posted as Events on my Facebook page. If you want to be notified about them, just go to my page, hit the “like” button, and be sure to check the “get all notifications” option.
This is going to be an amazing journey for this young pup. He has tremendous potential to be a wonderful family dog. It’s going to take time and a lot of hard, sometimes heart-wrenching, and sometimes physically painful work [meaning: I may get bitten or nipped], but he’s worth it all, and so much more. Stay tuned…