Jack & Lucky
My wife and I have always made a puppy part of the family for life. After losing our 11 year old golden retriever to cancer, we decided to look for a mature rescue dog rather than a puppy. We were thinking that a couple of months of loving would be all a rescue dog would need. Obviously we were way off target.
We adopted a 6 year-old Golden named Lucky. Lucky had a difficult past and more than his fair share of issues. More than just a little hyper, Lucky had high level food and possession aggression, did not get along with other dogs, was completely non-responsive to any command; in fact, he seemed to not recognize his name. We best describe Lucky as living in a different world. He would look through us with glazed-over eyes and had to be in control of any interaction. There was no joy in Lucky; he was a stressed-out bundle of fears so intense that he was uncontrollable in a vehicle, would shudder at practically any noise, and would never look us in the eyes.
After four months of unsuccessfully trying to turn Lucky around combined with several demonstrations of high level aggressions, we turned to Dr. Sue Kapla. This was Lucky’s “last chance.” During our initial visit Dr. Kapla who was familiar with Lucky from an aggression evaluation she administered during his shelter days did a thorough evaluation and discussed in detail what we desired. Dr. Kapla’s assessment was not pleasant to hear; however, it came as no surprise and we so appreciated her honesty and how open she was to tackle the challenge. Next Dr. Kapla developed a plan that identified the most pressing needs to be addressed first; then she taught us how to properly train Lucky using positive reinforcement to bring out the desired behavior. Between on-site training visits Dr. Sue provided weekly phone consultation which fostered our ability to adjust training methods to eliminate undesirable behavior and advance good behavior. What a value! Being able to tap into Sue’s expertise to help me adjust training strategies is a real life-line.
Within several weeks we could see positive changes in Lucky; however, it took several months before we felt that he may make it as his glazed blank stare turned to an alert and attentive look with sparkling eyes. We are even more optimistic now at 6 months. Lucky is responsive to directions and eager to work on new tasks. He is a completely different dog. He has even found that famous golden tail wag.
It’s a fact that Lucky has so much more to learn and he will never completely shake the past. I suspect behavior training with Lucky will be a long process; perhaps life-long. If so, that’s okay. We love our Lucky and simply want him to be happy and safe to be around.
We know that Dr. Kapla saved Lucky’s life. We are so appreciative.