Hannah is moving mountains. Oh, sure, it may be a little tail stub wag here or a little sniff there, but every step she has taken this past week has been huge.
You may remember this poor girl. She arrived at our rescue last spring with several other dogs (Pebbles, Sam, Sadie, Rocky and Bailey) after an out-of-state rescue was busted. They had all already been surrendered at one point in their life; then the “rescue” person they trusted locked them up and disappeared. Many of them did not make it out alive.
The other five arrived with the expected health issues (flea bites, heartworm, broken teeth, etc.), but were otherwise friendly or open to trusting us. Hannah was not. In 10 years, Mama Donna has never had a dog who didn’t even trust her. We tried our usual methods to earn her trust, but she continued to run from us … and ran in circles the entire time in her kennel. It killed us to shoot this, but we knew we had to (because we knew someday she would change) …
The usual methods we go through didn’t work (it usually just entails Mama Donna talking to them twice), so we turned to the Internet for some last-ditch efforts. After all, the shelter had confirmed that Hannah was heartworm positive. She was going to need to be treated … and we were going to need to earn her trust and keep her calm for that. Eldad Hagar’s videos for Hope for Paws kept popping up everywhere we looked. This is a man who goes on rescue missions and “turns” dogs that many of us in the rescue world would not think would be possible. If he could do it, we could do it.
So, on Volunteer Day in November, that’s exactly what we did. We borrowed a catch pole and gently caught this nervous baby, running circles in her kennel … then proceeded to love and comfort her for hours. It changed everything.
Over the next few weeks, she started to trust Mama Donna … and then the volunteers, one-by-one. It took a lot of patience, but she started to warm up …
A few more weeks and she was comfortable resting in our arms and being approached by other people.
And last weekend? Our amazing volunteer who decided to take this route decided to take her home to keep her out of the cold. (Donna asked as many of us as we could to take home dogs during the cold spell.) It was the beginning of a week big ole baby steps. Just seeing her go outside and walk on a leash was wonderful …
Hannah went through a couple of temporary homes last week, primarily for the purpose of her meeting with Meredith Mankin of Canine PhD for an assessment on Friday. Meredith immediately took to her and, as we had hoped, found her a great candidate for rehabilitation. She’s fearful, but there isn’t an aggressive bone in her body. She just needs to continue to be exposed to new things and new people (at her pace) … without having to deal with the anxiety and energy of the other confident dogs at rescue. That meant we had to find her a foster home ASAP. Our two vols who had been taking care of her loved her, but already had their own GA JRT rescues to care for.
Enter a couple of our awesome supporters, Pam and Bonnie (P&B). Meredith invited Hannah to sit in on Frazier’s first barnhunt class yesterday, and Pam decided to come out and meet Hannah to see how things would go. Hannah immediately took to her. In fact, she did very well at the class, period, even though she was surrounded by strange people, strange dogs … and strange rats! And, ohhhh, how she loved those rats! 😉 (Check her out at the end of Frazier’s video.)
So, Pam took her home after the session to foster and reports that she is starting to settle in well. They are giving her plenty of space and she even went for a short walk with her new pack last night!
We know she still has a long way to go, but this is huge for this girl. What is an every-moment thing for our usual terriers is milestone for her. She has come so far in such a little time and we can’t wait to see what happens next.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen: To our supporters who rooted her on; to Cara for sharing your home and so much patience and consolation; to Deanie for sharing your home and setting up the appointment with Meredith; and to P&B for opening up your home to help bridge her into her second life. Team Russell truly does rock!
As you may know, Hannah is heartworm positive (according to the shelter who held her after the bust). Now that she is getting more comfortable in her own fur, we are going to get her to our vet and confirm this and get a full bill of health. If you would like to help us help her, you can donate below. Thanks for everything!