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From Isolated to Hopeful…. Paw Paw’s Story

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It’s hard, but try to imagine this: Spending your entire life within an 8’ x 12’ wire pen surrounded by old tires and other garbage. A very primitive plywood shelter sits in the corner and there is food and water, but you are otherwise neglected. Fortunately, you have one friend in there with you, so you at least have a little companionship. Imagine living that way for five long years.

This was our sweet Paw Paw’s life until he was rescued by the amazing NMDOG rescue, based in Albuquerque. There were a number of dogs enduring life on chains on the same property, with one pup even living in an abandoned car under the dashboard. Paw Paw may have been able to move a bit more freely than some of the other dogs on that property, but his life was isolated and lonely just the same.

After Paw Paw was rescued and received much-needed veterinary care (including dental cleaning and sterilization,) NMDOG founder Angela Stell reached out to us. She had observed our success with shy and shut-down dogs in the past and thought the quiet atmosphere in Mountainair might be an excellent place for a very undersocialized dog such as Paw Paw to recover.

We welcomed Paw Paw to MAS at the end of March. It took a few weeks before he was ready to initiate contact with the volunteers and Steve our ACO, but once he was over that hump, he began to slowly and hesitantly blossom. Oliver, our staff Socializer-in-Chief and Canine Host, helped Paw Paw feel more comfortable by just hanging out with him and initiating play.

Today, Paw Paw’s routine consists of an (at least) twice daily run around our newly fenced-in backyard along with participating in playgroups. He is getting accustomed to wearing a belly band, (used to prevent marking,) and meanders in the lobby to “help” Steve with chores. Sometimes it takes a while before he is ready to venture out of his kennel, but we leave his kennel door open so he can go back and forth as he pleases. His kennel is his “safe space” and he seems happy to have the option of returning to it as he needs to. We have also made progress with his leash-walking, but that has been slower going. We think he feels overwhelmed being in wide-open spaces without the sight of fencing around him, but he is more willing to venture out when another dog is along for the walk.

Needless to say, it is slow going with Mr. Paws. BUT…. He is so incredibly loving and affectionate, it is worth every moment. Paw Paw is now running up to the volunteers to say hello! He has begun jumping up on us, a behavior normally discouraged with other dogs, but a great sign of improvement for him. He has also done very well walking around town and was completely engaged with all the new smells and sounds, once he got over the SCARY car ride. It will take time, possibly a year or more, before he feels more confident about his place in the world. Paw Paw is one of the most sensitive and caring dogs we have met. He shows concern when other dogs are distressed, and he is a fantastic playgroup friend!

Paw Paw’s future adopters need to know this: He is more comfortable outside than inside, but he cannot be an “outdoor-only” dog. He craves and responds to affection, but he’s not demanding. He will need to be part of a family but on HIS terms. His adopters will need to accommodate Paw Paw’s comfort level in terms of exposing him to the world. They need to be willing to continue to push him, but at a slow and gentle pace. Also, Paw Paw depends on the company of other dogs to feel happy and secure. His future home should have at least one. A fenced-in yard will be best for this guy; it’s a visual boundary that he understands and can rely upon. He will need some type of kennel or dog house as his “safe space” where he can retreat if he feels overwhelmed.

We know the list of requirements for his future home is long.…but that’s okay. Paw Paw is equal parts companion, friend, and wise old soul. He will be an amazing teacher for the lucky family that gets him as well as “gets” him.

We love him exactly as he is, and will give him ALL the time he needs until we find the PERFECT home for him.