Dear little Carla is supposed to be 9mths old and a very small Golden Retriever. She
received all the vaccinations necessary to obtain her Pet Passport for travel to the UK
where she went into foster with Louise and her dogs.
Shortly after her arrival Louise told us “Carla is absolutely delightful but she almost seems
to have a split personality! When she’s outside in the garden, she is a happy playful pup.
Once inside, she is fearful of noises, people and objects.
She is not, on the whole, as inquisitive or engaged as any young dog I’ve met before,
though we do see the occasional glimmer outside. She doesn’t play with toys or people.
Inside, she just lies quietly watching (often wagging her tail happily) or sleeping until I
move … then she follows me immediately but usually stays just out of reach.
She is fearful, anxious, timid, withdrawn and shut down inside and an alert, playful,
happy and inquisitive outside.
She still isn’t particularly affectionate yet though, once she’s overcome her fear,
she’s happy to be stroked and will even have her tummy rubbed. She is always very
pleased to see me when I return from being out or first thing in the morning. However,
she tends to jump up and can mouth a bit. She doesn’t nip at all just opens her mouth – a
bit like bitey face type games but with my hand!
She is an absolute darling, very gentle and delicate in all she does. Her temperament is
lovely. Her timidity is becoming less by the hour and I hope will soon have gone completely”.
After a few days, Louise went on to say “Carla continues to delight us all!! She’s putting
on weight and no longer feels as fragile as she did. She is learning to be more confident
in the house but she still follows me whenever I move.
She is fantastic with our other dogs and is quite submissive but that could be due to her
size and strength.
She is very wary around people and gets anxious very quickly. She constantly follows
me around just out of arm’s length and lies close by me to sleep but she has only once
slept close enough for me to touch her without moving.
She has occasionally responded to Delilah’s ‘come ons’ and enjoys herself playing tug
and chase outside or in a large open space in my hall but, mostly, she sleeps or watches.
When she is outside in the back garden she’s a typical happy puppy. She runs and
plays with my other dogs and has perfect recall as long as there is a treat on
offer. However, she doesn’t like our ‘dog pen’ – a large concreted fenced area accessible
through the utility room. She sits on the step and won’t move unless I go out and
encourage her to move. She sticks to corners and tries to hide under things. She is the
same in wide open spaces and sticks very close to me, to Delilah
(22 month old bitch) or to the edges”.
She was very tiny, only 11.7 kg. The vet here agrees that she is between 6 and 9 months
old and is quite underweight and undersized.
On arrival, she slept a lot and wasn’t particularly puppy like in her play or movements.
She seemed to get tired very quickly and didn’t instigated play either on her
own or with Louise’s dogs.
Carla was very itchy during her first 24 hours but that has lessened markedly. Her
coat is still very dry though. Her ears needed cleaning before the drops prescribed in Ireland
would work. She has healed puncture wounds on both ears and healed scrapes on her
snout. She is a very fragile looking dog.
She was limping on her left paw but the vet found nothing. Looking at photographs even
before her limping, which has now stopped, she looks to have always held that
paw/leg differently. I wonder if she might have been tethered at some point as there
is something ‘not quite right’ with her movement. Of course, this could be due to her
lack of weight and muscle development.
She is intolerant of wheat and is currently taking steroids to help heal very sore ears,
eyes and the pads of her feet. The vet cleaned her ears.
Carla has thrived on her wheat free diet. She is visibly putting on weight. Her movement is
improving as her muscles develop. We are down to one steroid every other day so,
as yet, we don’t know how she will be without them.
TRAVEL: Carla was happy and content travelling in a vehicle
BASIC TRAINING: Although she has had no basic training, Carla is really biddable
and has picked up any training I’ve done really quickly but she really is starting from a
very young unsocialised (fearful) puppy stage.
She has a long way to go before she will trust humans, especially men, I fear, but
she has already started to show she likes some bits of indoor life … soft beds,
blankets, cushions, treats and female voices. The log burner was a hit as well!
Carla remains biddable and is very bright. She is showing her ‘working strain’ side more
and more and has picked up any training I’ve done really quickly. She seems to like
routine and, after things happening once, she expects the same again.
HOUSETRAINING: She is almost house trained now.
LEADWALKING and RECALL: She is much less wary of anything outside off her lead
and actually has good recall if treats are involved!
On a road walk, Carla is nervous of cars/lorries/busses and she shies away as they
pass her even when on the furthest edge of a group of my dogs.
Carla doesn’t like roads, cars or busy places. She gets frightened and I’d say would bolt
if she wasn’t on a lead and harness under close control.
She has had no lead training and weaves from one side to the other. I use a harness
and she still pulls but she is manageable as she is so light weight and doesn’t really
show much interest in anything we have met on our walks as yet.
RESOURCE GUARDING: There is no evidence of resource guarding.
She has a tendency to jump up (on the dogs as well as me!) but has learnt to sit
calmly for a treat.
She eats very slowly and initially needed persuading to eat. That is getting better by
the meal (3 times a day, plus treats).
SEPARATION ANXIETY: She shows no signs of separation anxiety when she is left
with the other dogs.
ADULTS and CHILDREN: Initially, she was very happy to see people and responded
wagging her tail but wouldn’t approach them. If she is approached and could move away
she would, slowly, just out of reach and looking anxious. If she couldn’t get away or
was picked up she became very passive and didn’t struggle or strain. She just lay or sat
very still looking very worried and making appeasement gestures.
Louise said “Although she seemed happy to be stroked by my 20 year old son, all other
men (even just hearing voices on tv or radio) made her wary and she hid under a table
or in a corner showing signs of stress. She wouldn’t approach Paul and hid when he
was in the same room as her”.
In a later assessment, Louise says “She will readily come to me for affection but is still
nervous around most young men and cowers when older men appear. Even
hearing loud (especially shouting) male voices on tv or radio makes her flee. With a
lot of treats and the encouragement of the other dogs, she is finally beginning
to relax around my husband.
She does seem to crave affection but just can’t accept it from everyone yet. Her
tail wags when women or children talk to her and she looks as though she wants attention.
When I call her in a sing song voice she will come but she jumps up at me. As soon as I
stroke or fuss her, she mouths (gently) and, of course, has to be told no! Poor thing!
Though her anxiety is very real, I feel she could be a bit of a ‘drama queen’ and I’m
consciously making an effort not to baby her or feel sorry for her (says the fosterer
who is worried she’s cold outside so has bought her a fleece dog coat!)
Edit – after drafting this on Tuesday evening, I came in from the school run on
Wednesday morning to be greeted by the waggiest, most excited happy pup I’ve seen
in a while! She was very jumpy (all 4 feet off the ground!) and licky and mouthy but
was incredibly happy and affectionate! She seems to be getting happier and
more confident by the minute”.
DOGS: She is very friendly with other dogs.
She will certainly need to be rehomed with another dog to teach her how to be a dog.
A youngish one would probably be preferable as, when she’s not following me,
she is with Delilah, my youngest and most playful dog. She doesn’t pay that much
attention to any of my boys or my older bitch, though she does often lie close with them.
She has met and played with several other IRR rescue dogs who live nearby.
CATS: She seems to be ok with cats
CARLA’S DREAM HOME
Carla would love to live in a family with another well adjusted, playful dog or dogs. She
may take a while to overcome her fear of men but she is getting there.
She needs a lot of continued training and plenty of exercise but she is a real sweetie and,
given time and understanding but not too much mollycoddling, she will make a
fantastic pet for someone.