Fiona, Lancaster, PA
Hi. I’m Fiona. I was named after the singer, not the Ogre Princess.
My beginning wasn’t so clear but life was pretty rough at first. I was starved and beaten almost to death when I was only about a year old. Luckily, a kind soul found me and took me to the local shelter, Humane League of Lancaster, PA. I just figured that this was how humans are.
At the shelter, they kindly nursed me back to health and I was thankful for that. When I got better, they put me up for adoption. I was about a year old then. A man who was at the shelter looking for a dog to adopt saw me and wanted me. Me! He took me home with him and now I have a family…or so I thought.
For a couple of years, everything was fine with me and my other doggie sibling. One day, my family brought in the new dog, a Cocker Spaniel. Something just snapped in me. I attacked her! They had to rush the new dog to the vet. Seventy stitches later, the new dog was fine but my family decided they could not trust me anymore. They said I had to go. I was scared and confused.
Thankfully, Anthony has a friend, Jay, who didn’t want me to end up back right where I started, back at the shelter. Jay asked his mother if they could take me. His mom had wanted a dog ever since their Golden Retriever died at the age of 14 three months earlier, so she said yes. So this is my second chance to impress a new family and yet, I was almost a monster from day one.
She came home to find an aggressive German Shepherd snarling at her! But I was scared out of mind and just full of anger. After all I have gone through, at this point I wasn’t sure about humans – I was skeptical of most of them; they could hurt me and throw me away! How could I trust them?
I could go from sweet and nice to raging snarling beast in 2 seconds flat. Because of that, my new family started calling me “The Werewolf” – which kinda fits because I’m 80 lbs of fur and fangs. Luckily, I was crate-trained and all she needed to say was “Crate!” and I would fling myself in my crate. But that first year, I turned on her 3 times!
I was very lucky because Jay’s mom didn’t want to give up on me even after a local trainer, who spent an hour with us, told us she thought I was insane. Even our vet told her I’m technically insane but they had seen worse cases. Hmm. That didn’t make it sound too bad, did it?
The vet then put me on Shen, an herbal treatment for crazed race horses to calm them. We did not see a huge difference on Shen but we ramped up the training. But I turned on her one more time. Now what?
By luck, Jay’s mom found Chuck Kohler, a dog trainer near Philly who gave her tough love advice. He said, “Fix the problem or put her down because it is not IF she puts you in hospital, it is WHEN or worse.” She asked Chuck to find someone who might want me. He got tough with her and said, “Fix the problem. Do not put it on to someone else.” Tough love, but WOW!
So Jay’s mom and Chuck began phone and email dialogue to train me…and her! Turned out, she was the one who needed the training. From knowing Jay before, I had bonded to him (he is MY MAN) and I had his mom way below me in The Pack order. So Chuck taught her how to handle me, what to do and what NOT to do. Once she learned how to stay dominant and keep vigilant with me, I turned around and became the sweet, happy dog that I wanted to be all along.
It wasn’t a quick fix, it took six months but now I listened to her, no more sass and aggression. She’s now MY Mom and we get along just fine. I even took quickly to Jay’s sister, her husband and a few other people. When there are other animals or if people don’t want to meet me, I’d gladly go to my crate. I do try every now and then to see if Mom is still on her toes but I’d only rebel with little things like trying to break a stay or sit command. Oh, Mom does NOT let me get away with it.
Jay is in college now, so it is mostly just Mom and me. We’ve become great friends and I even sleep by her bed at night (I’d never do that before). I love her (almost) as much as I love my man, Jay. When my man does come home you’d think he has been lost and among the missing for years, not days. Mom says it’s actually sickening to see me with him because I’d howl, cringe, cry… it’s crazy! My man thinks it is embarrassing if people are over but Mom just thinks it’s too funny!
When I hear his truck pull up or when Mom says, “Is your man coming?” I’d run as fast as I can to see him. I’d jump up at the window looking for his truck, tail wagging and whining. And as soon as I see his truck, Mom says I go ballistic! She threatened to video it for him & put it on Facebook.
Now I know I am safe, loved and have someone else other than me in control. The Werewolf is no longer there and I can safely say, “I am NOT a MONSTER!” I am my family’s much loved member and Mom says she can’t imagine life without me.