Sunshine, La Habra, CA
My name is Sunshine. I want people to know dogs with fear issues are NOT monsters. We can give lots of love to the right person or family, if given the chance.
On December 23rd, 2011, Downey Shelter picked me up as a stray. I was estimated to be between 2 to 2-1/2 years old. They labelled me “dog and human aggressive”. The shelter even said I was a former “bait dog”. They must have thought that because I was so beat up, frightened and had a rope around my neck.
It doesn’t matter if I was or not, because I live for today, not yesterday.
My rescue didn’t care about the “label” — they saved me on January 5, 2012. My rescue had a foster home ready for me. However, after my foster family met me they decided I was too much of a risk because of my fear issues.
The rescue tried and tried to find me another foster, but the word was out: “Sunshine is a bad dog.” I was actually referred to by a couple people in the rescue as “the dog from Hell.” 🙁
I was sent to a training/boarding facility for 30 days, in hopes that would help me overcome my fear issues. After my 30 days, still no one wanted to take a chance on me so I ended up “living” in a kennel facility for 18 VERY long months. At one point a man took me home, but I was afraid of kids, so back to the kennel I went.
A complete stranger saw my pretty picture on Facebook in May of 2013. The description stated I was a former bait dog and needed a strong leader. My kennel humans told me this stranger wanted to meet me. I knew if I ever wanted to leave the kennel life I had to be on my BEST behavior.
OMDog, I gave lots of kisses, never growled or anything. I was perfect. I had forgotten ALL my training at this point because it wasn’t reinforced daily. The stranger, saw something in me that no one else did: HOPE.
She actually wanted to see me every weekend to prepare me for a forever home. We went to parks, stores, and training for 7 weeks straight weekends. I even stayed the night at her apartment on the weekends. There were three Chihuahuas living with her.
Some dogs run away from their fears, not me. I always want to attack anything I am afraid of. This was something new for the stranger. But, she wasn’t going to give up on me. She knew I had it in me to be good, and she was determined to seek out the proper help and guidance.
We found the perfect team to help: Los Angeles Responsible Pit Bull Owners (LARPBO). The first month we worked with the founder, Troy Smith. I was afraid of him, so I went into attack mode. He never backed down or allowed me to have my way. Then came my new trainer from LARPBO, Sadot Aldaco. He’s been my group and personal trainer since June of 2013.
After 7 weeks of bonding, the stranger decided she was not going to give me away, so she adopted me. This decision came with major changes for her, and challenges for me and her existing pack. Now, mom had to move out of her apartment and into a house with a yard. PLUS, she had to integrate me with my new siblings.
After 18 months, on August 1, 2013 I took my final walk out of the kennel. I was about to start a life with my very own family, FINALLY. 🙂
The first two weeks at home I had to wear a muzzle. This was a must because of my fear issues and the safety of my three siblings. It wasn’t until my chi brother Sarge passed away that I was allowed to be alone with my siblings. This was because of Sarge being blind, and he scared easily.
Fast forward to July 29, 2014. Mom brings a 6 week old foster puppy home. She came from a backyard breeder. Her name is Juniper, she is part Lab/Shepherd/Border Collie. She has no use of the lower portion of her body. This puppy would be the real test on how far I’ve progressed.
The little thing scared me like crazy.
But for the first time, I reacted different to my fear. Every time the puppy made a noise I would run and hide under the bed. This lasted for about two weeks. Mom let me go at my own pace, I slowly came out for short amounts of time.
We have become best buddies and you will rarely find us apart. I talked mom into allowing me to keep the puppy. Now, I have my very own puppy who plays tuggy, wrestles and chases me.
I will always need a muzzle when I’m in public. Why? Simply because I was tossed in a kennel for 18 longs months without proper socialization. Most dogs in that situation will end up with fear and trust issues, it has nothing to do with me being a Pit Bull type dog.
I have a long road ahead of me to get over my fears, but mom tells me I am making progress every day. I’m in my forever home because Troy and my personal trainer Sadot gave mom the guidance, tools and confidence to manage me. Mom and Sadot are helping me live happily ever after.
You can follow my progress on Facebook at “Sunshine, Pack and Friends.”