On Sept. 11, 2015, a Lab/Shepherd Mix named Whiskey was surrendered to the Connecticut Humane Society’s Waterford branch. The owner rescued Whiskey from another shelter as a puppy and raised him to the best of his ability. Unfortunately, Whiskey’s secluded lifestyle didn’t expose him to many people, children or new situations. So when a baby was born into his home, Whiskey’s world turned upside down. Suddenly everything he knew was challenged. There were new sights, sounds, smells and a crawling baby that would head straight toward him. Fearful of the unknown, Whiskey took to avoiding the baby and growling whenever the baby came near. Afraid of what may happen, Whiskey’s owners decided that it was in the family’s best interest to find their pup another home.
Once meeting Whiskey, Behavior Technician Rachel McCarthy knew that she had her work cut out for her. Here was a dog that hadn’t experienced much outside of the home and now had to handle the shelter world. Talk about sensory overload! Whiskey was extremely stressed and anxious from the second he walked through the door and didn’t trust anyone. With no idea of what was going on, Whiskey would retreat and growl at anyone who came near.
After spending a lot of time with him on intake, Rachel felt a glimmer of hope when Whiskey approached her and accepted treats. After discussing the challenges ahead with the shelter manager, Whiskey was accepted into the shelter with hopes that he would adjust and overcome his fear aggression through ample behavior modification.
For the first few days, Whiskey wouldn’t allow anyone near him. He would growl, cower and seeks ways to escape. Rachel dedicated much time to gaining Whiskey’s trust. After a couple of walks and time outside, Whiskey had found his new best friend! Any time Rachel would approach his kennel, Whiskey would immediately come to the front with a big smile on his face and paw at the door. Whiskey’s new favorite activity was not just going for walks but also playing in the fenced yard. While Whiskey attached himself to Rachel quickly, it was more difficult to get him to trust the other staff and volunteers. Over the next few weeks, Whiskey grew to trust other people and became familiar with his new environment. He slowly blossomed from a fear aggressive dog with no confidence to a goofy, playful and loving dog who would strut around the shelter like he owned the place.
The next challenge was finding Whiskey’s new home! Many people were interested in him but were deterred by his history and the prospect of a project dog. However, on Oct. 24, 2015, Whiskey met a woman who not only understood his past and what training he needed, but absolutely fell in love with him. Whiskey played with her, rolled around in the grass, gave kisses and was the sweet, affectionate dog that we hoped he would become.
To this day Whiskey and his new adopter are completely bonded and couldn’t be happier! She reports that Whiskey and her other dog (a Chihuahua/Pomeranian Mix) constantly play. While Whiskey is still learning to trust strangers, he has found new meaning in life and improves day by day with the love and care provided by his family.