On September 24, 2011, Crockett arrived at DVGRR transported from MAGRR in Tennessee. Crockett and another dog, Boone, were both saved from a puppy mill. Although both showed typical skittish behavior, Boone was slightly more interactive with people and therefore adopted within a couple months after work in Project Home Life. Crockett, however, is a bit more shy.
Most people, when they think of a Golden Retriever, envision a happy dog with tons of fur rippling in the wind as he chases relentlessly after his prized tennis ball – retrieving it to his adoring owner - while displaying an endless smile as he receives affectionate petting, hugs and a biscuit. So when people meet a Golden like Crockett, they are initially shocked and saddened by his fearful behavior. When he first arrived, he would always run the opposite direction from people. He cowered behind Boone and was very uncomfortable with any type of touching or petting – in fact, he feared it so much he wouldn’t even run away. Instead he would simply flatten out and tremble. He would never attempt to take a slice of cheese, handful of chicken or even a warm meatball from us and he would not eat his breakfast or dinner until staff left the area and all was safe and quiet.
Crockett has been participating in Project Home Life and become a volunteer favorite. The more I work with dogs like Crockett, the more I realize how important it is to zone in on what it is the dog finds pleasure doing. Once that is established, we can then build trust and bond through that activity. For Crockett, that activity is going for walks. In the beginning, Crockett was unsure about where it was he should be walking and would dart from left to right or back to front. As time went on, he became more confident and I noticed one day as I walked him around DVGRR property that his tail was raised up, wagging. His head was up looking forward to his destination. Along the way, we usually see a dog or two in the play yards. At first, he would cower away from the fence. Now, he will excitedly approach the other dog for a proper greeting.
Cindy Morgan, on staff since March 2007, approached me expressing interest in wanting to get more involved working with our puppy mill breeder dogs, outside of a caregiver shift. I recently began taking Project Home Life dogs on car rides and off property for a few reasons: One, to get them accustomed to riding in a car. Two, to show them a “different world” outside of DVGRR and three, to take an opportunity if it arises at socializing them with dogs and especially with new people. I felt it would be great to be able to take two dogs off property at once and therefore Cindy got involved.
Crockett has been making baby steps in progress. Staff and volunteers alike get so filled with JOY when shy dogs start emerging from their shells.
I remember the day Crockett put his front to feet up on the play stairs in the yard… for any other dog this would not have been a big deal – but for Crockett who was deathly afraid to go anywhere near the stairs - it was a huge accomplishment! I also remember the day a staff person came running over to tell me the Project Home Life volunteer had Crockett jumping up on the sofa in the apartment!
Dogs like Crockett are certainly not your typical Golden Retriever. However, the bond one builds with a special dog like this is absolutely like no other. Any adopter of a very shy or fearful puppy mill breeder dog can attest to this, including myself!
Please enjoy the series of photos below of Crockett and Maxine with Cindy & I on a peaceful hike last week. Maxine is going to be adopted this week! For anyone interested in adopting Crockett or learning more about him, please visit DVGRR’s available dog page at: http://www.dvgrr.org/available-dogs/available-males/available-males—crockett2
Click on a photo below to enlarge the pictures!