It started something like this….. "Almost Home Boxer Rescue," answered the Almost Home volunteer. "Hi. I need to surrender my boxer. She keeps getting ticks," said the woman. After much conversation, Marcia ended up in rescue. You might ask yourself what exactly "keeps getting ticks means". Well, it is the understanding that the yard and dog were treated…..or at least that is what we were told. When I picked up Marcia at a central meeting location I arrived to find her in the bed of a truck. She rode, not in a crate or even tied down, in the bed of a truck from the Westside of the valley. "It's July! Oh and shouldn't that be illegal?" I said to myself. Marcia was taken out of the bed of the truck, scared and overheated, and put into the backseat of my air-conditioned car. A young boy said to me, "She's a very nice dog." I collected the surrender form and the donation to have her spayed and left on my merry way to take Marcia home for a much needed bath and de-ticking session.
While on my drive, I looked in the backseat at a trembling little lump of a dog and noticed she had TONS of ticks on her. I was expecting a hundred or so. To me, someone who fears ticks, this seemed like a TON to me! I called our vet, Foothills Animal Hospital, in Ahwatukee on my way home to see if I could bring her in to test for Tick Fever. She was scheduled to be spayed that following day and I was worried she had Tick Fever and would bleed excessively during surgery. To our surprise, she tested NEGATIVE! Why such a surprise? Well, while waiting for a vet tech to come get her, I lifted her ear flap to find a TON of ticks in each ear. I said to myself, "Doesn't look like I'll be hitting the gym tonight. Instead I'll need to get myself a bottle of wine and tweezers. This de-ticking session is going to take forever!" Marcia was taken into the back room and after about ten minutes she still hadn't returned. I went to the backroom to find five vet techs hovered over Marcia taking all the ticks out of her ears. How amazing are they!?! They estimated to our vet, Dr. MacKenzie, that they removed about 300 ticks that afternoon. The symphony of crunching in her ears had finally ended. Over the course of the next seven days, we removed a total of around 700 ticks. I would love to say that I'm exaggerating, but I am not. Marcia was such a champ during our little de-ticking sessions.
The ticks and scabs are now gone, but the scars from her former life are still haunting her. According to the surrender form, Marcia lived outside. Yup, I said it. Outside. In Arizona. From what we can tell, she wasn't socialized much. Everything scares her from her own shadow to a fly farting a mile away. Fear is all she knows. She cowers when people come near her and for the first few days would practically crawl on her belly anytime she wanted to move around. She loves other dogs and lit up the minute she met my boxer. He was her leader. The one she needed to show her to play, to be pet, and to just be a dog. Sadly, she spent most of the time in her crate because she was too scared to come out to play.
She attended her first adoption event at the beginning of August. There were people to pet her and dogs to play with. I thought the other dogs would help her feel comfortable, but instead she just curled up on a blanket. Her eyes darted all over checking everything out. To say she was overwhelmed might be a bit of an understatement.
Marcia has since moved into her permanent foster home where she will remain until she is adopted. She stayed in the crate the first few days and the foster family couldn't get her to come out. They now close off the crate forcing her to be part of the family. They have kids and a small dog. She's starting to come around little by little, but still quite frightened. The foster parents have decided she might only know Spanish, so she's in the process of becoming bilingual with English. Yes, we have a little Smarty Pants on our hands! Marcia's ideal family will be one that understands how to cope with a shy dog. They will allow her to grow and explore on her own, understanding that she may always be the dog that lives out of fear of the unknown. Her new family MUST have another dog and be willing to provide her the vet care she needs, even if she does "keep getting ticks". After all, it must be something with the dog, not the yard or the lack of the removal of ticks. Right? She needs a family to love her 'just the way she is.'
For more information on living with a shy dog, please visit: http://www.homewardtrails.org/resources/dogs/helping-the-shy-or-fearful-dog.