In her three years of life she’d been through so much. Used for commercial breeding, she had never known the kindness of humans or the basic comforts of life.
Upon her rescue by RAGOM, made possible by Friends of Flicka, they began to call her Carley, a fitting name for this petite Golden. Her name means “free woman”, or “little and strong.” She was scared, but she was courageous.
This is a snapshot of her journey after her rescue.
Freedom Day: Carley on her way home.
Carley was rescued from a commercial breeding situation and taken to a loving foster home. She likely had never been out of the cage she was kept in, and she was overwhelmed. She barely moved from the kennel her foster family had set up for her. She was terrified to walk on grass and had to be carried outside and in.
Her foster family carried her outdoors again, and by the afternoon, she took a few steps on her own. As she observed the family’s other dogs, she began to sniff her surroundings.
Carley was given a desperately-needed bath to clean her filthy fur and skin. Despite her foster dad’s gentle touch, she was frozen with fear. But later, Carley ate a few bites of hamburger her family had prepared for her. Baby steps forward.
Frozen in fear: Carley's first bath.
Four days after her rescue, Carley began to make huge strides. She barked to signal that she needed to go outside. Although she needed to be carried out, she felt secure enough with the family’s other dogs near her that she began to slowly walk around the yard, taking in the sights, sounds and scents. For the first time, she walked back into the house on her own.
Inside the house, she still spent most of her time in her kennel, but her foster family was hopeful she’d emerge soon. She was eating and drinking – a sure sign of feeling less stressed.
It happened! Carley emerged from the security of her kennel and joined the other dogs in the sunroom.
Carley (green collar) emerges from the security of her kennel and socializes with the other dogs.
Two steps forward, one step back. Carley’s nerves got the best of her, and she was again hiding in her kennel.
Carley was still hiding in her kennel. Her family wondered how to get her to leave her safe spot without forcing her.
Carley spontaneously decided to walk outside and did not wait to be carried. Later that day, she made more progress. “Imagine our surprise when we looked up and saw she had walked into the sunroom. She joined Joonie and Winnie in a play session and even wagged her tail this morning too. We are absolutely stunned. We feel she may have turned the corner,” Elayne her foster mom, reported.
Carley was not only routinely joining her family in the sunroom, but she even tried out a dog bed!
“The definition of rough-housing!” Elayne reported that Carley, Joonie, and Winnie had a blast playing and tumbling after breakfast.
Roughhousing for the first time.
Carley began joining her foster family in the bedroom at night. No longer nervous of mealtime, Carley ate her breakfast by the other dogs and she even did so standing up. Later, after watching one of the other dogs jump up on Elayne for attention, Carley tried it too.
Carley began collecting toys and experimented with playing. When her foster mom petted her, she wagged her tail. Slow, steady progress.
After watching the other dogs in the house jump on the bed, Carley decided to try it too!
Walking into the house had been a challenge for Carley, but on this day she decided she could do it. She walked confidently into the house with the rest of the dogs like it was no big deal. Everyone celebrated her accomplishment.
Carley began taking anti-anxiety medications to help calm her and help her adjust. She no longer retreated to her kennel, instead spending all of her time with her foster family – both human and dog. Although she followed her foster dad Fred from room to room, she still would not take treats from him.
Another milestone – Carley took a treat out of her foster mom’s open palm, and then one from her fingertips. By the end of the evening she began approaching Elayne, responding to her name and taking treats almost easily.
Carley graduated from taking treats out of a hand to eating a bite of waffle from a fork.
Up until this point, Carley had been skeptical of dog beds. She found the courage to walk on the bed and sit on the bed, but she didn’t trust it enough to lie down. Imagine her foster family’s surprise to find her resting on the dog bed after breakfast. Her anxiety medications appeared to be helping.
Two months after her rescue, Carley has come so far. She still has some fears, but for the first time in her life, she is happy. She is playful with her foster family’s resident dogs, running and chasing with glee. “It’s the kind of joy that makes you smile,” her foster mom wrote. She loves napping on her bed, playing with toys, and eating popcorn.
But some things haven’t come as easily. Like many commercial breeding dogs, doorways are still a big challenge for her. For now, her foster family leaves the door open to let her enter on her own terms. They’re hoping she works through her fear while the weather is still warm. And some things are still too foreign for Carley to feel comfortable trying. She’s very suspicious of dog ice cream cups, and even after watching the other dogs in the family enjoy them, she still too leery to give them a try.
When her foster family feels she is ready, Carley will be available for adoption by a permanent family. Until then, they will patiently support her and help her master important skills.
The rescue of dogs who’ve been traumatized isn’t easy, and the work doesn’t end when they’re freed from their previous life. It takes patience and compassion and consistency to give these deserving souls the chance at happiness. Often, with every two steps forward there’s also a step back.
But watching a dog who has suffered so much begin to trust in the kindness of humans, and seeing their spirit come to life and their soul run free with joy – there is nothing more rewarding.
Posted on Sat, September 1, 2018
by Mychal Waldorf