|ZELDA IN A NUTSHELL: Very sweet, immature little girl that LOVES women. She is deathly afraid of men, but will warm up to them if given the time; she was said to be good with her original family that included mom, dad and 2 kids, but somewhere along the way a man was not kind to Zelda and she has not forgiven nor forgotten. A "female only" household is being sought for her or one with a man who has the patience and commitment to win her over. No other animals.|
|We were contacted by the Arizona Humane Society in late May about a white GSD that was deteriorating in the shelter environment. As we have come to know, shepherds do not do well in shelters, period. Their temperaments are simply not suited to the chaos and high levels of anxiety that exist in all shelters, even the best ones.
Zelda had come in as an owner surrender with the reason of "No time" given. The family had had her for the past 2 years (most of her life), and it was obvious that they had spent time with her. She was listed as friendly with men, women and children; low prey drive; crate trained; no separation anxiety; housebroken ... and the list goes on. According to her surrendering family, "... She is wonderful with children, but does not enjoy strangers in her home. She loves to go on walks and runs and plays with the kids (ours are 3 and 4 years old). She isn't aggressive towards cats but rather very curious about them and seems to scare them by smelling them." (Note: She seems like a typical German shepherd to us!) Zelda was evaluated by AHS and put up for adoption.
Zelda was initially adopted into what everyone had hoped would be her forever family the second time around, but it was not to be. The very first night she was sleeping on the wife's side of the bed, when the husband got up to use the restroom in the middle of the night. He either startled and/or tripped over Zelda, frightening her, and she snapped at him, leaving a scratch on his forearm where she made contact. That was it for the husband, and Zelda was returned to AHS and, once again (passing her intake evaluation) put up for adoption. (It should be noted that we would NEVER recommend that Zelda be roaming free for her first night in her new home. This was a failure of her adopters, not of Zelda. She was in an unfamiliar place with strangers ... can you blame her? We can't.)
As time went by, Zelda began to deteriorate. Her once friendly demeanor became fearful and defensive. She was transferred to the South Mountain facility where it was hoped a quieter environment would help Zelda, but she continued to decline mentally. The Behavior Team noted that once out of the kennel, Zelda was a changed girl. She was happy and sweet, walked well on the leash and was responsive to cues and corrections from her handlers. AHS reached out to us to see if we would be willing to help and get Zelda out of the kennel environment for good.
EVALUATION DAY: Two of our staff members went to AHS South Mountain and were greeted by one of their Behavior Team members, who took us to meet Zelda. Our female staff member approached her kennel and called her name. Zelda's interest was piqued, but she growled and slipped out the doggie door to the outside. No amount of coaxing could get her to return to meet us. She eventually came back inside after our staff member went outside and Zelda saw her, and was very approachable by the Behavior Team member -- he had had Zelda out for a walk only once prior, but she definitely remembered him, wagged her tail and took treats readily from his hands. He leashed Zelda and we walked outside to the yard.
Once outside of the kennel building, Zelda was a different dog! The transformation was instantaneous and pretty amazing to see. She relaxed, allowed us to pet and scratch her and even licked our hands and leaned into us for treats and affection. Even the female staff member who had initially caused Zelda to run from her received affection and tail wags.
We sat outside with Zelda for a while and watched her reaction as several other dogs were brought out into the yard. We had been told that she was extremely dog reactive and wanted to see if that was true. She pretty much ignored the first 2 dogs that came by; the second dog (a very bouncy chihuahua mix) definitely caught her attention and she moved a step towards the dog, but a quick "AH-AH" and slight pop of the leash stopped her in her tracks and she watched the other dog, but made no moves toward it. Good Girl!!
After a short conference and a few questions for the AHS staff, we agreed that Zelda would be a new addition to our rescue.
Zelda loaded up into our vehicle with no issues at all and rode quietly to her temporary foster home with one of our staff members. So far, so good. Please check back as she settles in and we learn more about her.
Zelda is approximately 2 years old, spayed, UTD on shots and microchipped. She has been paired with our current youngster, Buddy, and is doing just fine having him for a playmate. She definitely has a preference for women, but she has warmed up very quickly to the man in her current foster home.
Zelda is definitely crazy, head-over-heels for her foster mom. She has made friends with her foster dad and is no longer reactive around him, allowing herself to be petted without any fuss at all. We're thinking that an all-female household (or at least a household with a male who is willing to give Zelda the time she needs to calm her fears and accept him) might be the best placement. We're not sure what happened to Zelda to cause this negative reaction around adult males (she was fine with the shelter personnel at AHS and our rescue partner, Bert, so we know she has the potential to learn to trust), but whatever it was, we're going to make sure Zelda is placed into an environment that suits her needs. As with all shepherds, she's going to need some ongoing training and socialization to let that baby brain of her catch up to the rest of her.
UPDATE 12/2: After a very successful introduction yesterday, Zelda moved in with her new foster mom, Jennifer, who adopted Kasey from us in 2006.
FIRST FOSTER UPDATE: "She seems to be settling in good, although she didn't eat. Drinking ok. She was very interested in the kids at the school down the street. One mile walk before I even took her in the house. She got pretty playful, spun in circles. Pretty funny. Thanks again."
Adoption fee $295.00.