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I'm a children's author. Animals are a constant source of writing material for me. They are also my heart!

Annabelle - What a difference a year makes...

>> Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Annabelle came to us a year ago last October. She was our most challenging rescue because the unknown abuse she must have suffered led to incredible fear and distrust...especially of men.

All I know about Annabelle's past is that her previous owner went to prison for twenty-five years (for a child related offense). I called my rescue friend who had placed Annabelle with us and said, "Find out when he's due to get out on parole, because he's never getting this dog back."

Her response was chilling, "He hung himself," she said.

Annabelle is blond. He hair is curly and wiry...much like a terrier. Her body is long and her lets are short...much like a dachshund. Annabelle resembles the dog in the story of the Grinch.

At any rate, I let our other two dogs (Maddie and Kelly) take care of Annabelle when she first arrived. She put herself in the middle of the pack and that's how they roamed the house and the yard. After a week or so, she would let me touch her slowly and gently, but I was the only one.

My advice to my husband and sons was: "Don't look at her. Don't touch her and don't talk to her." With the exception of my middle son, the advice worked and after several months Annabelle warmed up them.

My middle son was another story. He must have somehow reminded Annabelle of her past. When Jeff came over (all my sons are grown and married) Annabelle would charge him. Kelly (who knew and loved everyone) would join her. They would pin Jeff to the back of the basement door and bark ferociously.

Needless to say, this didn't go over well. Thankfully, instead of being furious at the situation, Jeff tried to figure out how to gain Annabelle's trust. First of all, I felt that I knew Annabelle well enough to say, "Quit allowing her to back you in a corner. Hold your head high and walk by her as though she isn't there."

I know it was intimidating to Jeff, but he did just that. Then one day, just as Jeff and my daughter-in-law Eileen were getting ready to leave, Jeff took off his T shirt.

"What are you doing?" I asked as everyone else looked and wondered.

"I'm going to put my shirt on the couch for Annabelle to smell all week," Jeff answered.

Annabelle did indeed smell Jeff's shirt. His scent became familiar to Annabelle. Eventually, she even slept on top of the cotton-soft shirt.

I'm not sure if Jeff's act of kindness was because he really wanted Annabelle to trust him or if it was because he was bound and determined not to be defeted by a dog, but in any case, the left-behind T-shirt worked.

Annabelle quit barking at Jeff. She even began to let him pet her. A year after the fact, Annabelle greets Jeff with a wagging tail. She's still cautious of men, but Annabelle trusts us enough to let her know she's safe.

She's a good girl.

6 comments:

Sandy April 28, 2009 at 9:41 AM  

This was something had I not seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears; I found hard to understand. I was there once when poor Jeff came and over and the dogs reactions were really something.

Sandy

Sandy April 29, 2009 at 8:59 AM  

Followed one of your ads about training dogs, got to an ad about how to stop barking. Though it's directed at the owners when they think they have a problem, several books and training. Argh...I need my neighbors to realize their dogs are bothersome, morning, new, and night. Barking for no apparent reason. Makes me crazy. Can't hear myself think some days it goes on for so long and is so loud. If I could buy a bunch of the books on discount and put them in their mail boxes, think that might help? hum...Sometimes I actually get to wake up on my own, usually though it's someone's dogs that wake me up...sigh
Sandy

Butchy and Snickers April 29, 2009 at 2:19 PM  

Hey Annabelle, Kelly & Maddie,
Thanks for visiting our blog. You have a very nice blog & we love reading the stories about how you came to your forever home. I Butchy was rescued at 3 1/2 yrs. old, but Mama & Papa bought Snickers as a wee little puppy. Plus we rescued 3 wild cats this past Fall & Winter & they live indoors with us now. It's so nice that Annabelle likes Jeff now. Some dogs just need lots of time to adjust, especially if they have had a rotten past. We hope you have a nice week!
Luv & Wirey Hugs,
Butchy, Snickers, Ruby, Sylvester & Scuby

gouri May 2, 2009 at 2:44 AM  

hi Jan
thanks for reading my blog and pointing me to yours. i have a 5 year old westie, who came to me from people who just one day threw him away when he was about 6 months ago. literally just flung him out of their lives - they live close by. he is a precious sweetie, but has some irrational dislikes of people, and the broom (must have been walloped with a broom). now i'm off to your other blog.

Bethany May 3, 2009 at 4:54 PM  

ugh! I don't know if I can keep reading this blog. So far my eyes have filled up at the first two posts I've read. Wow. Lucky dog to have found you and your son is incredible too.

Joey and Maggie May 18, 2009 at 6:59 PM  

Sounds like Annabelle has found her perfect forever home.

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