Ava’s second day with us began in the way the previous day had finished, with Ava hiding in the bedroom. I was becoming concerned as she hadn’t been to the toilet since she had arrived with us. I managed to catch her by closing the bedroom door, which shut off other escape routes to her.  But the only way to get her downstairs was to carry her as she struggled like a wild animal.

It felt so awful to do this, but I couldn’t leave her outside.

Once in the garden she went to her “safe” place, under a garden shrub where she watched Ruby and Lilly have a quick wee.  I hoped it would encourage Ava to do the same; but alas no. As we came up the garden steps to the back door, Ava stayed hidden under the shrub.  The only way I could get her to come in to the house was by leaving the back door open and waiting for what seemed like an age, as Ava came up to the door.  However, as soon as she saw me she ran off back under the shrub. This continued for most of the morning, when I realised the only way to bring Ava in was to carry her.  So, lying on my stomach on the grass I caught hold of her and pulled her out from her hiding place.  It felt so awful to do this, but I couldn’t leave her outside. 

I realised this couldn’t go on and so I called DBARC.

Once inside Ava made a beeline for the stairs and up into the bedroom again.  She would only eat if I brought her food upstairs and left it by the bedroom door.  Once I went back down stairs, she came out and ate, then scurried back to the safety of the bedroom. I realised this couldn’t go on and so I called DBARC. The lady I spoke to on the phone confirmed that the longer Ava stayed upstairs by herself, the more it would feed her fear.  For her own sake she needed to be downstairs with us. We brought down our stairgate from the loft and installed it at the base of the stairs.  Then up I went to catch Ava and bring her down to the living room.  When I manage to catch her I don’t know who’s heart was thumping louder, Ava’s or mine.

My heart felt like it would break

Once downstairs Ava went back to behind the recliner and lay on the wooden floor beside the dog bed, panting.  My heart felt like it would break. I wanted to hold her, stroke her and tell her everything would be ok, but she didn’t want to be touched. I recall questioning myself, would it be ok? Would we be enough for this frightened little soul who seemed so desperate to get away? Ava waited 36 hours before she went to the toilet, it was as though she had shut down for those first few days with us.  But very slowly things began to change….

We began to build trust with each other…

Occasionally a little head would appear over the arm of the chair.  If I made any move Ava would run back to the safety of her hiding place.  But eventually we reached an understanding. Ava would come out and look at me shyly from under her eyebrows.  I would acknowledge her presence by talking to her, but also keeping very still and not trying to touch her. From this place of reservation we began to build trust with each other, moving toward an ever deepening bond.

Author: Mary Reed

Mad About Schnauzers Fundraising

Find out more about some of the fun fundraising activities we organise to raise funds for rescue schnauzers at DBARC

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