RAVEN is a stunningly beautiful, young, coated GSD who was VERY badly abused by someone. She came to us from a shelter where she was left, and she was utterly terrified of human beings. She simply shut down when people came near. She had to be carried everywhere: to the vet clinic, to the car, to her foster home.
THEN: Her First Weeks
At first Raven hid in her crate in her foster home and only came out when slowly made to on a long lead to go potty. Each time was a 30 minute process to slowly coax her out, and her foster mom discovered that by crawling partway into the crate, talking to her, and rubbing the inside of her back leg, she would relax enough to come on the leash. She immediately tried to run and hide in the yard and freaked out on the leash. After pottying she broke all speeds record flying past her foster mom to get back to her crate. Once safely back in her crate, she plastered herself to the back and hardly moved a muscle. In her first 10 days she refused to move from the back of her crate. She also refused to eat or driink while humans were around, so we had to leave food and water overnight to make sure she ate and drank. She literally broke our hearts. Then, after the first 10 days, she suddenly began to panic in her crate and ripped at the front of it to get out. Yet she still didn't want to be around humans and had to be on a long lead all the time.
NOW: Still Shy But Playful & Loving Life
She's made good progress. After a month of gentle coaxing and letting her take things at her own pace, Raven was loose with 3 other large dogs in the foster pack and was much better around her foster mom. She loves other dogs and they're her comfort zone. She has came out of her shell completely with her foster mom but can still be very shy around strangers and in new situations. She also still runs away at certain types of noises, startling easily with unfamiliar circumstances and bolting quickly quickly at sudden movements or noises. Her crate has become her safe place and she voluntarily goes in it much of the time with the dog remaining open. She must have access to a large, comfortable crate at all times. Raven will continue to be a flight risk for some time to come, until her trust in humans is fully restored. Once bonded, though, she looks to her humans for fun and approval and tons of pets and belly rubs!!! Our best guess is that once bonded she wouldn't leave her humans unless suddenly startled.
She has a nice, moderate energy level. She LOVES to play in the yard with the other dogs and given her choice she'll spend a lot of time in the yard. But she's very calm indoors and settles beautifully. She can get mischievious from time to time, grabbing a shoe and gently mouthing it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
1. CONTINUING WORK: Raven has come a very long way and her new family will need to continue the work. We've established a baseline of trust in the foster home, and the new family will need to extend that not only to their family but also to the 'outside world'. Raven apparently never knew human kindness in her life before coming to us, so she's really just starting her journey to learn to trust humans. She still ducks her head when approaching or being approached (though it's much better these days!) and does best when invited to approach you by gently calling her and often bending down to do it. If the other dogs come up to you, Raven will come up readily but when they leave Raven often does too. She has become more outgoing about asking for pets and love and belly rubs - a great sign!
2. YOU MUST HAVE ANOTHER DOG IN THE HOUSE. She MUST have another dog of approximately her size and play level, a dog who's already confident and secure. She needs a play buddy and a guide, teacher, and mentor. Raven follows the other dogs and does what they do. The other dog in her new family will be her comfort zone at first, until she bonds with the humans. The only reason she's made such good progress to date is by following the lead of the other dogs in her foster home.
3. PATIENCE & GENTLENESS: Raven's new family MUST have patience, a quiet and gentle touch, and the willingness to let Raven emerge from her abuse in her own time. She CAN NOT BE FORCED - she will retreat. She can only learn to trust people with continued time and experience.
Raven will be a truy stunning dog when she comes into her own. Once or twice she's 'pranced' for a short distance in the yard, and seems to be carefree for just a few seconds. In those times she's magnificent. But it will be a slow journey, and she needs the love and patience of a kind, gentle family to break through her former abuse and get it behind her.
Raven has a spark of true GSD in her. She has one special buddy in the foster home, and when one of the other dogs played too roughly with her special buddy Raven misunderstood. She thought the dog was being mean to her buddy and was immediately on her feet and in the dog's face, barking and air snapping at the dog (who immediately stopped). She also reacted through the fence to a neighbor dog who's dog aggressive, and charges the fence barking. We found out Raven can jump high -- she tried to get her paws on the top of the 6' fence! Raven has a wonderful deep GSD bark and will bark at people who approach 'her' door, so she'll make a good alert dog. Otherwise we haven't seen anything but friendliness and playfulness from Raven. She does ok on leash but we haven't done a lot of work with her on that yet.
She is largely crate trained (needs to be crated next to another dog) and mostly potty trained (if there's a spot that smells of other dogs and she's left too long, she will use that spot).
Raven has gained weight and is in great shape. She was heartworm positive but has been treated and is completely healthy. She's spayed, microchipped, and up to date on shots.
DOGS: YES. MUST HAVE A DOGGIE PLAY BUDDY who is confident and can teach and mentor Raven! Medium size or large dog who can play/wrestle with her
CATS: Unknown. Would have to be tested.
KIDS: No small children due to the noise and chaos that would terrify Raven even more. Kids 10 and up only.
FENCE: MUST HAVE A 6' PHYSICAL FENCE THAT IS ABSOLUTELY SECURE - Raven is a flight risk and will be for some time. She can also jump high.
IDEAL FAMILY: A patient, loving family who will continue to guide her on her journey to trust and confidence. A family with another dog who will be her play buddy, best friend, and role model. A family who will be gentle and encouraging, and never lose patience with Raven as she works through the final stages of her fear and distrust. A family willing to help her fully blossom into the incredible dog she really is.
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