Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Year for a New Poodle

Poor Charlie looked more bedraggled mop than canine when he arrived at HSCC.

A white miniature poodle mix, Charlie had been purchased at a pet store as a young puppy. Over the next five years, his daily life was limited almost entirely to the confines of his home.

As our medical supervisor, Jen, examined his severely matted coat and overgrown toenails (which were so long that they were causing his toes to twist in odd directions), Charlie bravely held still for her—but quietly shook in fear. With the help of our canine supervisor, Robyn, Jen gave him the first grooming he’d seen in a very long time—carefully shaving the tangled fur that was matted down to his skin in some places, and clipping his curling nails. 

Left: Charlie's overgrown nails.       Right: Charlie's right front leg groomed.

Two and a half hours later, Charlie resembled a miniature poodle again! Yay, Charlie!

His medical check-in and grooming complete, Charlie’s first major ordeal was over. But he now had to face life at the shelter. Robyn brought him downstairs to the kennels, where he was greeted by loud barking and strange dogs staring at him from behind their glass doors. According to his former owner, Charlie had never met another dog before. He’d never met many other people aside from his owner, either, and now suddenly he was being cleaned, fed, and let outdoors by multiple unfamiliar people. Not surprisingly, Charlie reacted with fear-based aggression over the next few days, growling and barking at our staff from within his kennel. When reached for, Charlie would growl and lunge, and we had to keep a lightweight leash attached to him to avoid having to reach for him directly. 

Fortunately, once outside of his kennel, Charlie would eventually warm up to his handler, and after some time even began to solicit attention and play!

Though he was making progress, we realized that Charlie would gain the confidence and world exposure he needed a lot faster in a foster home. He needed a quiet space with patient, dog-savvy folks who could invest a lot of time in giving him positive experiences with new things. Robyn contacted Poodle Rescue of New England to see if they might be able to take Charlie into rescue. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any room, but referred us to Poodle Rescue of Vermont. Within moments of seeing Charlie’s picture, Poodle Rescue of Vermont agreed to take him!

Soon after we'd said goodbye to Charlie and wished him luck, we received an update from the president of the Poodle Rescue, Terri Gerard, saying that as soon as Charlie reached his foster home, he ran right up the steps, found his dinner, and gobbled the whole thing down. A great first start!

Charlie's foster dad works from home, so the pair bonded quickly, and Charlie spent his afternoons napping right next to his foster dad's desk.

Now, two weeks later, Terri writes:

Charlie is such a little superhero who has come so far from the scared little boy in the shelter. Charlie has had his first professional groom at Doggie Styles in Colchester. Charlie raced around the place happy to meet all the dogs there, large and small.  

Since arriving in foster care with Poodle Rescue of Vermont, Charlie has mastered the stairs, is nearly 100% potty trained and has expanded his play to toys other than a ball and has an excellent appetite and eats two meals a day. Charlie is working on losing a few pounds which will come off easily now that he is getting exercise and a healthy diet. Just in the last few days, Charlie will leave his foster Dad's side and venture into the other room to snooze by the fire. 

Charlies' foster parents had a very busy holiday season and Charlie was right in the thick of it, with overnight house guests, parties, other family dogs. Charlie had a few moments of nervousness and feeling unsure but for the most part, no one would be able to know that just a few weeks prior Charlie was in terrible shape. 

Charlie went snowshoeing this past weekend, riding in a front pack and enjoyed the trip very much.

Could Charlie have ever envisioned a life like this just one month ago? For this little poodle, the New Year truly brought a new life.

Charlie is currently available for adoption through Poodle Rescue of Vermont. Click here to view him on their site.

Charlie was in a loving home for the holidays, and so were the 725 other formerly homeless animals we matched with new families in 2012--plus 25 lost animals who were reunited with their people!

Of course, we wouldn’t have been able to place any animals in homes if you--our community--hadn't opened your doors to them. This is teamwork, really, and we’re so grateful to be partnering with such a compassionate community! Whether you adopted, fostered, volunteered, or donated in 2012, THANK YOU for helping us give so many dogs, cats, and small animals a better life.