I signed up to do foster dog care as I felt it would be a nice compromise. Dash arrived yesterday after having been out in the world for only 3 months, even though he is 21/2 years old. You see Dash is a rescue from a biomedical research lab. He is so sweet, but has no idea what the world has to offer. Consequently, he startles quickly.
Outside and loving it
Dash loves to be outside. He will sit for the longest time just sniffing the air, cocking his head to every sound, looking here and there, enjoying the ambiance of the outside. Walking is his greatest pleasure and he could do it all day long if I had the strength and stamina. On our walks he will sniff everything but when he steps on a dried up leaf and it crackles, he bolts! He's never heard that sound before. When a car goes by, a dog barks somewhere, or even when I cough, Dash bolts. Fortunately, he's leashed so the bolting goes nowhere.
In the house, Dash seems sad. He doesn't engage in play, preferring to rest in his crate or on the floor near me. I think he doesn't know how to play! Or his natural instincts haven't kicked in to tug at a rope, chase a ball, or romp around. Or he's tired. Or....whatever.
Dash's toys remain unused
This happened to the cat I adopted last year. When I got her, she was so scared she peed in the bathtub and kitchen sink. She knew how to use a litter box and did so, but her anxiety was such that negative peeing behaviors took over. She had never been outside in her 13 years on earth. Her paws were baby pink and soft, no black roughness to them. Her negative behaviors were so bad I considered giving her up, but felt determined to help her overcome her anxieties. On the advice of my Vet, I put her outside for long periods and she thrived. In fact, the other day she caught and killed a mouse that was scurrying around the kitchen!
Dash will learn new things while living with me. He will understand that when I pull out my knitting needles and yank on the yarn it doesn't mean danger. He will become familiar with sounds that we have become oblivious to such as fast cars passing by, trash trucks loading and dumping trash receptacles, and twigs breaking. He will learn that he is safe.
When fostering a dog, I know that I do not know what he's been through, but I do know that it will take much time and lots of love from me and my husband for him to become accustomed to the outside world. I'm up for the challenge, and based on Dash's happy reaction when I greet him in the morning or when I return from being otherwise occupied, he is ready, too.