Hi everyone! Do you remember way back during Mayzie's Rescue Me Week when we wrote about the hoarder lady who used to work at a pet store and who had 50 dogs in her house? Almost Home Foundation found homes for most of those dogs, but there are still a few left. One of them is Pepe, an eleven pound chihuahua/terrier mix who is very sweet but can be very nervous around new people.
Pepe is another one of those chihuahuas who just doesn't trust people. This has been aggravated by the fact that he was raised by a hoarder, and did not get a lot of human contact. When he sees a hand coming towards him, he doesn't know what that hand is going to do to him, so he sometimes growls or tries to bite! But never after he's gotten to know and love a person. For instance, he knows and loves his foster parents, He will cuddle on their laps, play with them, and be a wild little guy around them! He loves to play fetch, and peek-a-boo. He is great at learning new tricks, and is very interested in getting some agility training if his new family would be willing to work with him! He is also usually fine with dogs who are his size and smaller, although he is afraid of larger dogs.
One thing our Mama said she noticed, when volunteering at Almost Home Foundation's adoption days, is that many people who want to meet a small dog will walk up, and lean over the dog. This makes many smaller dogs, including Pepe, frightened! It can be frightening or intimidating to larger dogs as well. We thought we'd share a few tips for people who might be interested in meeting Pepe, or any other new dogs.
Remember to always ask whoever is handling or walking the dog if it is okay to pet him. If it is okay, curl your fingers into a fist, and offer your fist to the dog to sniff. Don't shove your fist in the dog's face, but hold it far enough away so the dog can be the one to move his face over to you for a sniff. If he keeps on sniffing and seems happy, or if he pushes his head under your hand to ask you to pet him, you can!
When you meet smaller dogs, if possible, it is a great idea to sit on the floor instead of standing over them. If you cannot sit down on the floor, ask the handler if they could pick the dog up so that the dog is at your level. Sitting or crouching on the floor can be the best way, though! If the dog seems nervous, it can help to avoid eye contact. With Pepe, our Mama has noticed that whenever she is sitting on the floor and talking to a human or playing with another dog, Pepe will walk up and put his paws on her or even climb into her lap! This may be because a person who is sitting down low, and who is not looking at him, can be the least intimidating person to a nervous dog. Once the dog has gotten a good sniff of you, he'll probably be more willing to be petted! Pepe is not as nervous as, say, Bermuda, and he will almost always become friendly within a minute or two of being petted.
Here are some things not to do when meeting a dog, especially a nervous dog. Do NOT lean or bend over the dog. Do NOT put your face right up to the dog's face unless you don't mind getting bitten in the nose. (Of course once the dog is yours, it may feel natural to put your face close to his and give him kisses, and once he knows you well he probably won't mind! But don't do it to a strange dog!) Do NOT run up to a dog or approach him in a quick, startling way. Do NOT walk up to a dog you don't know and start petting him, without giving him a minute to get to know you! (This may have worked out fine for you with a few dogs in the past, but you don't ever know which dog is going to be the nervous one who will think you're trying to hurt him!) And NEVER pick up a smaller dog that you don't know. Ask first. Some dogs will let anyone pick them up. Other dogs will be frightened by this gesture.
Finally, the quickest short cut to a nervous dog's heart? Treats! Many nervous dogs will get over their stranger anxiety if you have something delicious to share with them!
If you live in the Chicago area and feel like you'd enjoy having Pepe in your family, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. We know you're going to love him!