OPINION

The rehabilitation of ‘Mama’s Joy’

Rhonda York
Rhonda York

Claire, an Aussie/cattle dog mix, came to live with my family before I was a dog trainer. When I brought her home to foster her, I had no idea how to help her. She was completely unsocialized to humans and utterly terrified of everyone and everything – except for my two Labs, Angel and Buddy.

I read many books, but nothing was addressing how traumatized she really was. At that time, I volunteered at a PAWS for Life facility in Pueblo, Colorado, regularly and was used to hyper dogs and big dogs and slightly OCD dogs and nervous dogs. But Claire seemed almost unreachable. I only saw fear in her eyes.

I wondered if we’d ever be able to take her for a walk or if she would roam around our house like our other dogs did. I wondered if I could train her since any correction would lead to her cowering or slinking away. I wondered if I’d ever be able to pet her without her cringing. I wondered if she would be able to think of us as her pack.

With the help of my family’s patience and love and especially the example of Angel and Buddy, I can now say that Claire is a “dog.” I have seen the dog behaviors we love and take for granted unfold like little gifts before my eyes every day.

We adopted her in December 2016 – my best Christmas gift ever. It takes a very long time to rehabilitate a broken dog. My husband’s nickname for Claire is “Mama’s Joy.” She sure is.

Rhonda York is a certified dog trainer.