Ava’s story continues and takes a positive turn. Ava makes huge progress when she begins exploring the big wide world – Ava Chapter 5.
As the days passed, we settled into a routine of Ava spending most of her days behind the chair, often ignoring the comfortable dog bed and instead lying on the wooden floor. It was taking a lot of coaxing to get her to come into the garden and once she had toileted, it took a lot more cajoling to get her to come back into the house.
Ava showed no interest in coming for a walk
When we had collected Ava from Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre (DBARC) Anna had advised that we didn’t try to introduce Ava to lots of new experiences too quickly. Initially we limited ourselves to the house and garden. When I took the other girls for their walks Ava stayed behind with my husband and Ava showed no interest in coming for a walk.
It was as if a switch had been flicked
After a couple of weeks of getting Ava familiarised with her harness and being on a lead, we decided to try her on a short walk. We are so lucky to live in a beautiful part of the world and just across the road from our house we have a lovely woodland walk. The minute Ava got onto the woodland path it was as if a switch had been flicked. Her head lifted. Her posture straightened. Her essence somehow seemed lighter.
Ava reacted better than we could have hoped
I will always remember Ava’s first walk. So many of my fears about her being outside the confines of the garden evaporated. We met many of our doggie friends that morning and Ava reacted better than we could have hoped. There were lots of the usual dog type greetings, and an almost imperceptible wag of the tail! Any human we met was studiously avoided and if anyone bent down to speak to Ava, she ducked out of the way. But she didn’t bark or growl, which given her background I’d expected that she would. As the walk concluded, she looked most put out.
Our walks became Ava’s time to grow into being a dog
I understood then, that the way I could best communicate with Ava was via our time spent walking, although having her overhead harness put on was something that she only just tolerated. Following some research, we settled on a Hutta Active harness which was not difficult to get over her head and then clipped behind her front legs. She positively strutted when she first had it put on!
Our walks became Ava’s time to grow into being a dog. Life in the puppy farm had robbed her of these experiences in her early life. However, now she had a second chance to grow to her full potential. The more we walked the happier she became. The pulling on the lead lessened and Ava became happy to trot alongside me even though Lilly and Ruby were off lead. It soon seemed the right time to let Ava off lead also.
For the first few times off lead Ava stayed close by. But then she discovered squirrels! The periods of time spent chasing them became longer, and on two memorable occasions Ava was missing from sight for more than ten minutes. I was frantic, but our little network of dog walking friends came to the rescue and we were happily reunited, both of us a little traumatised.
I have a great belief in the power of love to heal broken spirits and wounded souls. As Ava has begun to trust in me, her barriers have been lowered. I knew that she had taken that first tentative step toward expressing her affection, when one evening, quite some time after Ava came to live with us, she hopped up beside me on the very chair she had spent so many weeks hiding behind….
Author: Mary Reed
Mad About Schnauzers Fundraising
Find out more about how Mad About Schnauzers raises money for DBARC to help support the rescue and rehabilitation of dogs like Ava