Do you remember when you were young and thought that if you just covered your eyes and hid, nothing scary would ever be able to hurt you? Well that’s how Junior, an 11-month-old Siberian Husky cross, has felt for most of his short life.
Our expert dog trainer and behaviour rehabilitation specialist Nicole Beasley from Planet K9 said it is almost like Junior suffers from agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces) as he loves his enclosure at the Home and is often reluctant to move from the safety of its walls.
“Junior was brought into the Home with his mum Mishka, but while she thrived and was able to be rehomed almost immediately, it was clear Junior needed some serious help,” Nicole said. “We put him into our Behaviour Rehabilitation Program and have worked with him every day to build his confidence.”
Wanting to take things slow with the terrified young dog, Nicole and two other female attendants started visiting Junior regularly in his pen, allowing him to gradually get used to having people around. It didn’t take too long before Junior began excitedly greeting them at the door and dragging his toys over for a quick show-and-tell. However as soon as they tried to take him outside, Junior would drop straight to the floor and wouldn’t move.
“One of the biggest problems with Junior is that he is so gorgeous, people are very drawn to him and always want to pat him,” Nicole said. “He’d get a big fright whenever someone reached for him so I started working with him after hours, when no-one was around. I’d put him on a long leash and run around the shelter grounds with him. The change in him was enormous as soon as that pressure was taken off.”
Once Nicole felt confident that Junior was making progress, she started bringing him out more during work hours and getting staff members to take turns giving him food. He was especially reluctant around male staff members, so Nicole decided that teaching by example was the best way to overcome this problem.
“Junior absolutely adores other dogs so we decided to try building his confidence by surrounding him with good pooch role models,” Nicole said. “We put him in Basic Obedience classes, where he was so distracted by playing with the other dogs that he didn’t even notice that there were men in the class too.”
Nicole said Junior has made enormous progress in the time he has been at the Home; however the steps he has made have been small and have taken time. While we feel confident Junior is ready to find a new home, there is still a lot of work to be done and Junior will need an extremely dedicated and patient owner to see him completely conquer his fears.
“Junior is an incredibly special case and we are going to be very specific about who we let adopt him,” Nicole said. “Ideally we’d like someone who has had experience with Huskies or highly energetic dogs in the past; someone who has the time to spend with him and the understanding that he won’t be better overnight.”
“We want someone sensible, who isn’t going to push him too hard and scare him, undoing all the work we have done. And because Junior loves dogs, we would also like to find him a home where he has a well-adjusted and friendly dog to be an example to him.”
Nicole said while Junior has never demonstrated any aggression whatsoever, he would not be suitable to a home with children, as they would frighten him with their quick movements.
“It’s a lot to take on board; however whoever adopts him will soon see what an absolutely beautiful dog he really is,” Nicole said. “Once Junior trusts you, he just transforms into this happy, vivacious pup that can’t stop running and is just so funny to watch.
“We are all extremely fond of him and have enjoyed watching him in his journey. But the time has come for him to take the next step.”
If you think you fit the bill and are interested in meeting Junior, please call the North Melbourne shelter on 03 9329 2744 and ask to speak with Nicole, Robyn or Sandra. Junior is desexed, vaccinated, microchipped and has undergone a full health check. He and his new owner will also be given a complimentary Basic Manners Course with Nicole at Planet K9 after his adoption.