Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Fostering Baby Blue July 5, 2011

Extra special appeal for a very special home.  This is Baby Blue, a 2 year old female Staffordshire Bull Terrier.  She arrived at LAA on 13 April having been found in Earl Shilton by a lady who had adopted a dog from our Centre.  This poor girl was in the most appalling state; starved and covered in scars and urine scolds.  Every bone in her body was clearly visible and she was terrified.  She appeared to not be able to walk properly but it soon became apparent she was crawling out of fear.  It is likely that she did live in Earl Shilton and a feature on her was published in the Leicester Mercury on 6th May.  We have, sadly, seen many animals that have been deliberately neglected and abused and Baby Blue is certainly one of the worst.  The trauma she had endured has left permanent psychological scars.  Her physical condition is now excellent and you can see more pictures of her on our group facebook.  After weeks of careful, gentle and patient rehabilitation she went to her temporary foster home where she still currently resides.  Her foster Mum, Kathy, has been invaluable in the continued care of this little girl and also been able to provide essential information about her behaviour and temperament and, of course, her ability or inability to be able to cope with 'normal' domestic life.  We are now looking for a permanent adult only home (as an only pet) in a quiet environment with a regular routine.  Her new owner(s) will need to have experience of caring for an abused dog and the patience and understanding to accept she will probably never fully trust people or be confident in new situations.  She has made progress, however, she often reverts to a very fearful and nervous dog if she feels insecure.  She would like her new owner to accept her as she is and not expect her to necessarily change.  She is gentle and loving and very loyal but easily spooked.  She is very quiet and submissive and likes to take her self away to a safe and secure retreat until she feels confident to venture out again.  She has progressed with her house-training but if not able to get outdoors may have accidents in the home.  She is, naturally, very sensitive and would be distraught if she felt her owner was upset with her.  If you would like to know more about Baby Blue, please contact the Centre 

This was Baby Blue at the shelter shortly after she arrived.  She is a two year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier that is the rare color they call "blue", hence the name the shelter gave her.  I thought the write up of her was the best way to introduce her here.  She was a shaking, terrified mess when she was brought to the shelter that day in April.  They kept her there for several weeks.  She was given to me to foster on May 5th.  What a sad little girl this dog was.

When I met her she was being kept in the isolation area of the shelter as it is quiet there and the staff frequently go in and out throughout the day.  She was laying on a pile of blankets.  When Linda (manager who I deal with and whom she was very acquainted with) and I approached her, she sat up but immediately scrunched down in her fearful state and urinated slightly on her blanket.  Linda told me that this is what she does when people approach her.  She was however very friendly, crawling to Linda and I right away for some affection. I sat with her a while as Linda got her things together for my house.  A new foster dog means blankets, toys, medicines, food and with Baby Blue it included a huge stuffed pink Hippo that she was using as a bed, all get taken to my house.  As we walked out to my car I was amazed, I have never seen a dog walk in a crouched position quite like that.  I have seen them crouch down for a minute or so, but this was Baby's permanent walk!  But she came along willingly.

They told me at the shelter that Baby would seem to get better but then something would happen (many times they didn't even know what it was) and then she would revert back.  Like taking a few steps forward, but a giant leap back.  So I had to be extremely careful with her fragile personality.

When we arrived at my house I put her Hippo bed in the living room, and a blanket on the end of the loveseat where I sit most of the time.  Baby jumped up on that blanket and from then on that was her seat.  I also put a pile of blankets in the bedroom for night time.  I took her outside for a walk around the back yard and watched her pee.  OK, that done, we came back in the house to get acquainted.  But no sooner did I turn my back and she had pooped all over my carpet!  This was my first indication that she was probably not house trained.  Naturally I didn't make any big deal of it, just cleaned it up and carried on.


The first few days were pretty stressful.  Baby knew nothing about being a dog.  She continued to go to the bathroom in the house (#1 and #2) and was very insecure and needy. I remained calm and affectionate when dealing with her. Gradually I was able to teach her to go outside. This was a huge relief as Baby drank tons of water!  They told me at the shelter that she did that and we wondered if she'd been deprived of adequate water.  I would not be a bit surprised.  I am lucky to have a secure back yard and a slider door that goes out to it, so I can leave that open all day for her to go in and out. I close the bedroom door at night so she doesn't have the run of the house and she is clean until we get up in the morning.  

Poor Baby Blue. I really don't know if she will ever be quite normal.  We are pretty certain that she was used for a breeding dog.  She is the rare color of blue (really gray) so the puppies are valuable.  Her entire stomach was stained yellow from urine, her pads on her paws were smooth, as if she has never been out. Her toenails were completely white (rather than opaque color) meaning she did not have sufficient nutrition.  She was severely emaciated.  The picture above doesn't show it good, but all her bones were protruding, including her spine.  She had patches of missing fur, her ears were notched and rough on the edges because of missing hair.  Her tail was broken and she had a couple rotten teeth (she is only 2 years old). We figure that she has probably been kept in a cage her whole life.  It would explain a lot of things about her condition and behavior.

Her lack of dog knowledge showed itself in different ways.  She didn't know how to play.  I would try to play with her with toys and all I'd get was a blank look from her.  No interest in chasing anything or playing in any way.  She would sit in the kitchen watching me cook and food could be dropped right in front of her, she wouldn't even know it.  Joe would toss her treats and they'd hit her in the head!  That first few weeks if we approached her she would submissive pee.  No matter where she was. We had to learn to approach her in a VERY casual way, like not walk straight up to her but kind of walk by her and then put a hand out to pat her head.  If I called her to come to me she would most of the time cower where she was and not come, or if she did come at all it was in a slow fearful way, many times peeing as she came.  We never raised our voices (either to her or otherwise).  We made sure the house was a calm and friendly place at all times.  Luckily we live in a very quiet neighborhood and our house sits way back off the street so it works out perfectly.  My heart just broke for this little damaged girl.

After having her for a few weeks Linda wanted to get her in to have her spayed, her tail amputated because of the break in it and her bad teeth pulled.  Linda brought her back to my house after the surgery.  She was such a pathetic looking little thing.  She was still under anaesthesia and asleep. (The vet agreed to let her go since she was coming to me and I'd be with her for the night.)  That little thing didn't come out of it until 11:00 that night!  Even the vet (I took her the next morning) couldn't believe that she had not woken up until so late.  The saddest thing was that they found Baby was pregnant when they went to do the spay.  How horrible.  Whoever owned her must have had her pregnant constantly all her life!  It's obvious she's had several litters.  The vet of course couldn't let her keep the pups as she was in no condition to go through another pregnancy.  Thankfully she will never be able to be used to breed again.  But her surgeries went fine and with medicines and TLC she recovered after a week or so. 

Slowly, slowly she progressed. Linda brought a animal behavoirist over to meet Baby and give me some advice.  She gave me a lot of information and ideas on ways I could work with her.  I was told not to take her for a walk on a leash or anything like that yet. Too much of a chance she'd get spooked.  With a dog like this one, if she were to get frightened by something, it could set her way back from where she had already come.  I was to find this out for myself eventually.  I worked with Baby and finally got her to play with a couple of toys.  She likes one particular stuffed ball that she keeps at close hand.  She also goes outside with her rope toy and kind of throws it around the yard with her mouth.  I have tried to show her to tug-of-war but as soon as I grab a hold of it she drops her side!  She will half heartedly chase a ball once in a blue moon, but even with all my cheer leading she will only run TO it, not pick it up.  I guess she thinks that just going to it when I throw it is the object of the game.  I should mention that it took Baby over a month to even run in the yard.  I really feel she has never been allowed to run and play.  One day she just took off running and it was so surprising to me!  I laughed and laughed.  She looked like a gangly filly who was just new to her feet!  She ran around and around.  It was the cutest thing.

Baby has no clue about the doorbell or visitors.  She can see the front door from her perch on the loveseat but when the doorbell rings she just sits and stares.  After I open it she will get down and walk slowly to the door to greet the person.  Still in her unsure way.  She does love people and is very friendly once she meets them.  Her favorite thing to do is to jump up on people.  I have been working on her about this.  I have stopped her doing it to Joe and I.  But the people at the shelter allow it and also people who come to the house.  She sure has a long stretch!  She is kind of dainty when she does it so you don't feel like you are being pushed or anything like with some dogs.  But she'll stretch up and put he paws around your waist and give the BEST hugs.  She'll stay like that as long as someone will bend over and hug her and rub her back.  She is extremely affectionate that way.  Also loves to give those kind of hugs while we are sitting down.  Hard to refuse her loving ways.  She will even rest her head against your head or shoulder.  


I mentioned above about her reverting back when she gets scared.  I saw this first hand.  I was laying on the couch one day and she wanted to get up with me.  I reached down to grab her bottom to give her a boost and must have bumped her sore tail (from the surgery).  She yelped and RAN into the bedroom.  I felt really bad, but it was an accident.  She ended up staying in her room all day!  It had scared her and she was too afraid to come out.  Nothing I did would make her venture off of her bed.  You will not believe this but it took three weeks to get her back to behaving normally!  She would come out to go outside for potty but then would go immediately back to the bedroom.  I tried to coax her out, but found it was probably better for her if she came out when she was comfortable.  She eventually did come out to her Hippo bed in the living room but would absolutely NOT get back up on the loveseat.  I am not kidding when I say it took weeks for her to do that.  And then it was a slow process, at first only when no one was sitting there, and eventually back to normal.  All because I accidentally hurt her tail!  

When I have a foster dog I usually sleep in the guest room with the dog.  Joe goes to bed early and is up very early so he doesn't need his sleep interrupted by the dog and I coming and going.  Plus if the dogs want to sleep with me I let them.  I have a special "dog" duvet cover that I use for that.  However, after a cuddle before bed, Baby prefers to jump down and sleep in her blankets.  We usually get up early for a trip to the bathroom and then go back to bed.  She again hops up for some lovin' and then jumps back down for a little more shut eye before our morning begins.

I have had Baby for two months already!  She has changed immensely since she first came.  She trusts Joe and I and showers us with love and thanks all the time.  She no longer does her "crab walk" as Joe called it.  She stands up tall at least here at home. She no longer drinks water obsessively. I trained her to walk on a leash.  It wasn't hard as she does not have the personality to pull or do anything that I wouldn't want her to do.  I just had to train her to walk to on one side of me as she was all over the road, in front of, behind, left and right the first few times!  I started taking her for short walks and have graduated to taking her around our quiet neighborhood for one mile walks a day.  She really loves it.  Each day is a new adventure. There is a bench that sits on the busy corner of our main street (which happens to be right outside our neighborhood).  I have taken her there and just sat with her to let her get used to the sounds of the cars and people walking by.  I will venture out to walk the more busier streets gradually.  So far she has shown a slight interest in dogs she meets.  Maybe a little sniff and then she's done.  She is far more curious in people.  Even if she crawls to meet them, she still goes.  Everyone who meets her loves her.  

Last week I saw her wag her tail for the first time.  It took me by surprise because I hadn't even realize that I HADN'T seen it wag!  It is just a short little stub now, but always tucked down tight.  We were walking and came upon another woman walking her dog.  There happened to be a stray dog with her too.  We stopped to talk for a few minutes as the dogs were sniffing each other.  All of a sudden Baby got kind of excited and jumped around a little with her tail wagging!  It looked so out of character, I was very surprised but happy for her.  Poor little thing, never is happy enough to wag her tail!  

Have I mentioned that she has not barked yet?  No one at the shelter or us here have ever heard her bark.  We assume she can.  She sure yelped when I touched her tail that day and she snores a little bit.  But never a bark.  Very unusual.  Such a quiet dog.  And when dogs bark at her (like from behind a fence) she pays no attention to them at all.

Baby's favorite thing to do in the world is lay down on the patio in our backyard in the sun.  She stretches herself out and basks in the sunshine. Mind you she will only stay out there a few minutes.  She has to come check on me every ten minutes or so.  If she hears me sneeze or cough she runs inside immediately to check and make sure everything is alright.


As you can see by the pictures she really looks good.  People who meet her always describe her as "lovely".  That is a popular word here and used instead of good, great, etc.  She has gained weight, her fur is shiny and healthy.  No more bald spots or ragged ears.  Her toenails have grown out their normal opaque color.  Only the tips of them are still white, which makes her look as if she is sporting a French manicure, how fancy!


One thing that Baby likes to do is watch TV with me.  I personally have never had a dog that actually paid attention to the TV.  But when I have Animal Planet on, every once in a while a certain dog will catch her attention and she will immediately perk up, her ears raised and tilting her head from side to side.  Sometimes even getting off the couch to get a closer look.  Check out the pics below!


I look at Baby as she lays stretched out in the backyard in the sun.  She loves the yard so much and is so comfortable here.  I hope that she will be able to adjust in a new home when she gets one and pray that it works out for her.  The worst thing would be for someone to adopt her and then not be able to deal with her insecurities and have to take her back to the shelter.  For this reason Linda and her co-workers are working very hard to find her the right home.  They all have such a special place in their heart for Baby Blue, as do I.  Look into those sweet loving eyes and tell me you wouldn't too.


  1. I liked this article. Is Linda going to post this somewhere for people interested in Baby? It's amazing how far she has come...that's so great!

  2. My heart just breaks for Baby Blue and others with similar untold stories. I celebrate those such as yourself doing what they can, one animal at a time. Also helping to educate others, teaching both the realities of breeding and raising animals and by example, teaching to have compassion for all living things. Now I must go hug my own rescue pooch, Diego, to reassure myself that he never again feels abandoned or abused. ~ Dalee

  3. Wow, the work you are doing with Baby Blue is making such a difference! The pictures at the end of your posting show a much happier and healthier animal. I'm so glad she has you to care for her and help acclimatize her to a more "normal" life. You are doing a good thing!

  4. It looks like Baby Blue might someday have a job helping rehabilitate other dogs if she's that interested in the ones on TV! Something just tells me she is alive and getting on well for a purpose! Or perhaps she'll just have a quiet life, who knows. I hope whatever happens she makes someone very happy. I so wish I could meet her - she does look exceptionally sweet.

  5. How wonderful! The work you've done with her is amazing and so apparent in the photographs. What a great opportunity you've discovered in the United Kingdom during your stay there.

  6. This just tore at my heart! She is soo lucky to have you and Joe. I bet Joe is so happy that he isn't embarrassed when you take her for a walk since she behaves nicely:) I can't believe what she looked like in the beginning and what she looks like now - i bet she is very, very glad she came to you.
    Cathy Hunter

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