Happy Tails – Valentine

Valentine’s story highlights the power of patience and when needed, medical intervention.

Val came into rescue at 8 years old. He was a very stressed and anxious dog, and very overweight at 90+ lbs. His surrendering family hadn’t focused on training him, so he wasn’t doing well in that department, either. He was very dominant over his humans and wasn’t real big on taking commands from anyone. But he had a sweetness about him too. He was put into an experienced home for fostering and evaluation but the match wasn’t right. He was too protective, nervous and we found out that he had a guarding issue – if he had something that he shouldn’t have and you tried to take it away from him, he would bite. Not good.

So we placed him with another foster. We weren’t sure he would ever be able to be placed in a forever home because of the biting but we discovered that what he needed was a very strong leader. We hired a few different trainers and worked on obedience; his new foster mom had to be very firm and consistent with him. The biting stopped because he realized that a human was in charge – something he never had. While that was a victory, his anxiety and leash aggression remained issues. He was taken to a medicinal behaviorist, which is a specialist who is trained at behavior but is also a medical vet – she had several PHDs and was quite brilliant. She felt that his anxiety was extremely high and his behaviors were all fear-based. She recommended that he be prescribed Paxil. She also demonstrated some training techniques for the leash aggression and gave his foster family a bunch of games to play with him for training. Within a month, he was so much better. He was able to relax more and he became a sweet, lovable dog, and his foster family became his forver family. He became comfortable enough around other dogs that, with proper introduction, he has been able to wlecome at 10 other dogs into his home.

Valentine is almost 13 years old now and starting to slow down a little but we know he is happy and he feels safe. He is still on the Paxil, but a low dose. He is still very stubborn and doesn’t take commands well but his family lets him slide now. He just is who he is – “my Valentine”.

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