At some point in our lives, we have all met "problem dogs" or dogs with behavioural quirks. Usually, these dogs have endured some form of trauma, or are difficult works in progress.
Despite their issues, they are loved whole-heartedly by people who wish to aid them in becoming the best pup they can be. Each has a unique story.
In May of 2015, I stumbled upon a very sad, very scared looking pit bull cross puppy on the San Bernardino Animal Care and Control website. Two weeks later, after a blur of phone calls, credit card payments, and car rentals, I had a four month old street dog at my door step. Little did I know, I was in for one crazy adventure.
Maisey was sweet, but distant. She wasn't fond of people, dogs, cars, skateboards... She was pretty much afraid of everything except squirrels and birds, which she was hell-bent on destroying. She was food aggressive, aloof, and seemingly uninterested in the life we had provided for her.
I was more hurt than anything. I rescued this abandoned puppy and gave her a dream home, yet she couldn't care less if I existed. She chewed on everything, went potty in the house, and was not popular with my other dog, Mortimer. I was sure I had made a terrible mistake.
Luckily, my boyfriend convinced me to give Maisey a chance.
Less than two months later, she had become the greatest addition to our family. The food aggression had been overcome, she showed love and affection toward us, and Mortimer couldn't be happier to have a little sister. She still wanted to eat squirrels and birds, but we chalked that up to a terrier trait.
We've now had Maisey for the better part of a year, and she has grown into a wonderful young dog. Although, she still has some undeniable quirks.
Maisey does not like being approached by multiple dogs at once, nor does she enjoy large group settings. She is terrified of dogs approaching her backside, and isn't keen on sharing her toys with strangers.
These are all issues we address daily, but have come to terms with the fact that some of them are simply personality traits. Most of them are understandable, due to her previous life on the street, and it may take years to overcome her fears.
We must have patience.
Adopting or welcoming a "problem dog" into your life may be the most rewarding challenge. The love and affection they show toward you is more meaningful than that of an average dog, because it took so much effort to get there. Once you've worked through a fear, that dog will be eternally grateful.
Every morning, I wake up to the most beautiful little lady sleeping next to me, a smile spread from ear to ear. All the frustration and heartache is erased, and I am reminded how truly blessed I am to have her in my life.
The truth is, I've learned more from her than she has from me.
Photos by: Alyssa Lynn Castle, Nathan Peacock, and Wesley Barber