It is difficult to understand why someone would be cruel to a dog like Charlie or any other dog. But thanks to Michelle, we’ve been able to work through his difficulties and he’s become quite a character and a valuable member of the family. We could not have done it without Michele’s expertise to guide us.
It’s been two years since we adopted Charlie and what a time it’s been. When we got Charlie not much was known about him other than he was found as a stray in Southern Illinois and had only been in foster care for about two weeks. Charlie’s a tall, good looking young male…about three/four years old now but we really don’t know for sure. He had and still has a lot of energy almost too much for Duke (10 years old).
None of our other labs ever needed to be crated but one evening Charlie decided one of the living room chairs looked quite tasty and another evening while we were out to dinner he apparently wanted to watch a movie but didn’t care for our selection of DVDs. It was that plus he played a little too rough with Duke that led us to believe Charlie might need to be crate trained.
Despite these youthful transgressions Charlie (or as our vet likes to call him “Charlie Marley”) could be the sweetest, kindest dog you’d ever want to meet. Sometimes when I’m watching television he will plop his big head on my lap or sit between us wanting us to pet him. But, despite his gentleness it was apparent something else going on with Charlie and we needed to get it straightened out.
So, the time came to bring Michelle from Dog Gone Good Training in to work with all of us. As Charlie’s training progressed Michelle noticed he responded better to my wife than he did to me. He would go into his crate easily for her but would shy away when it was my turn. If he was out in the yard and I called him in I would have to walk into the house and well away from the door before he’d enter. After working with Michelle and watching his reaction, it became apparent to all of us that someone, a male, had abused Charlie and he had serious fear issues. Michelle told us it could take up to a year before it subsided and a lot of time and patience would be needed. She was right on.
We all knew Charlie was a good, gentle, smart dog. When our grandchildren visit he’s great with them. Our 6 year old granddaughter (who named him) sits next to him, hugs him and he loves it.
More than two years have passed. He’s not perfect yet….he still exhibits fear on occasion. Michelle told us that would happen but to be patient, gentle, and use positive reinforcement with Charlie. Up until his most recent visits to the vet his tail would be ensconced between his back legs out of fear. But, now he’s very good with the people there and he cooperates during his exams and nail trims. At home, he’ll greet me at the door but still shy away until I sit down then he comes over with the tail wagging to say hello. He goes in his crate when I tell him it’s time. He warms up to friends, both men and women, more quickly, and he’ll sit and relax with company in the house.
As playful as Charlie is, he’s extremely gentle and happy when he’s free of fear. He seldom barks and when we noticed he didn’t bark we were concerned that was part of the abuse he had to endure. But now, every once in a while he’ll emit a very deep bark just to let us know he can.
He craves attention and willingly returns it. We’ve learned a lot about what triggers his fear and try to avoid raising our voices or making sudden movements that may startle him. Thunderstorms and fireworks are not good for him. Nevertheless, he’s come a long way since he came into our home two years ago.
Very Truly Yours,
Neil and Karen from Palos Hills, IL May 21, 2015