So, I was writing another post about Bob’s Burgers and how much I love Linda but I’m feeling like a bit of a failure today and I need to get it down. Lord I love my 3rd grade teacher who put the love of writing in me. (She also used to kiss us all on the cheek every Friday and if you were lucky, you’d be first in line and get a lipstick mark on your face 💋!)
Anyhoot, I got my Corgi, Mally, on May 22nd from a breeder in my town. Bill and I were together then and visited her for the first time on May 2nd. She was really attentive to us and since I’d been wanting to adopt another dog, Mally seemed like she’d be a great fit for me. The breeder no longer needed Mally because of her last litter which had to be a Cesarean; so, since she could no longer have puppies, she was letting her go.
The outside of the breeder’s facility was clean and the barn where the dogs were kept and bred appeared to be nice too. She talked about how it was heated and air-conditioned but when we asked to go in, she wouldn’t let us. This should have been a red flag, but I was enamored with Mally and knew I was going to take her regardless.
Mally is 3-4…her actual age isn’t known because I got no medical records, AKA papers, etc. When I asked who the current vet was, the breeder told me the name of the facility but then said she wasn’t completely sure. Hmmmmm.
Anyhoot, I called the facility and they had no record on Mally. I also called a couple other vets in town and got the same answer. So, I took her in to get her vaccinated and examined and come to find out, she had an intestinal bug that’s only gotten through drinking dirty water. In other words, Mally was a breeder in what I now think is a puppy mill and her care was obviously minimal.
When Bill and I got her home, she spent the majority of her time in the space between my bed and wall (about 12″ in width) and unless we physically moved her, she wouldn’t go outside. However, once she was out she seemed happy. She played with Eddie and really responded to him. After all, she was used to being ONLY around dogs and it quickly became very clear to us that she had little to no human socialization. The first time I tried to smooch on her and give her a squeeze, she backed away in terror. (Now yes, I understand that men have done the same to me, but we’re going to focus on Mally right now 🙄).
It’s been a bit over 3 months now and I’m still struggling with her. She has made great strides but this is definitely a marathon I’m facing and not a sprint. She will come when I call her about 60% of the time (which is up from 0), finally responds to treats (she had never gotten any), and cuddles with me and Edward on the couch whenever I’m reading or watching the boob tube.
For some reason though, she has a lot of trouble after dark. No matter how well she came in for me during the day or responded to my voice, it’s a HUGE battle at night. I’ve put leashes on her (recommended by a trainer) when she’s out so I can grab it to reign her in, but Mally is fast! (She will NOT pee or poop while on a leash so I can’t just hold it…and it took us weeks to even get a collar and leash on her 💩). Bill and I both worked on leash training and she’s fairly good when she’s walking through the neighborhood but fights it in the yard dreadfully.
Yesterday morning, I got up before dawn to get some videos done for my classes and Mally wouldn’t come in from peeing in the yard with Ed…she usually does in the morning because she gets a goodie right after. It was still dark and she reacted like she does at night and because I was going to be late for class, I finally had to leave her out (with shelter and water) and my son came right over and got her in.
Why O? Well, Mally doesn’t like men. Period. She’s scared of them and when Bill would come into my yard, Mally would immediately run to the door. It’s the same thing with O: right when he walks into the yard, she runs inside. There were times when Mally submissively peed when Bill or O was around but that’s lessening. Yea! Her vet is male (and a 30 year old hunk with a man bun…I’m hoping Edward gets a rash or something soon so I can see him again 😳) and it took him quite a while to cajole her out from under the bench in the examination room when she was vaccinated. Even my pop can’t get her to come over to him and he’s pretty much a dog whisperer.
So, my quandary is this: I’ve been talking to dog behaviorists/trainers as well as an expert in Corgis and based on their experiences with puppy mill ‘bitches’, she believe that Mally will never be truly socialized around humans or completely lose her fear of men.
What she’s experiencing is akin to the human version of Reactive Attachment Disorder which is what neglected, un-nurtured kids develop because they don’t have a consistent person to attach to or be loved by. You see this in cases of children raised for their first couple of years in orphanages or by parents who have no emotional investment in the child at all. In Mally’s case, she was always in the barn with other dogs or outside in a field with them…she didn’t know what living in a house or around people was like. Further, I don’t know if she had ever had a leash on her besides the time when she got her C-Section and the only attachments she had, her many litters of pups, were taken away from her right at 8 weeks and all at the same time. When Bill and I picked Mally up, the breeder gave us a small baggie of food and said: “Well…Bye!” No affection towards Mally at all. She had no love…cuddles…family…socializing. She was simply a commodity for the breeder and her only job was to make money. Period. It breaks my heart to think of what her first 3 years were like.
And, like kids, once a dog gets past a certain age, the ability to attach becomes less likely. According to VetInfo: “Dogs with attachment disorder may exhibit any number of behaviors such as hyperactivity, they can be destructive, eat too much or too little, become clingy or unable to bond with their owners, and they can be impulsive.” I see a lot of this is Mally: her eating is not consistent, she hasn’t bonded with me, and she can be VERY impulsive.
At a few points this summer, I thought about surrendering Mally to a Corgi rescue that’s a couple cities away. I know she needs professional training and although I talk frequently to one, it’s not the same as her being trained directly by a specialist. I thought about this again yesterday after having fought through a couple of issues with Mally these past few days, and I am frustrated, scared, and angry.
I question if I’m ‘enough’ for Mally in terms of training and giving her a good life. I’m frustrated I’m not making more progress with her and want so bad for her to be happy. And I’m angry as hell that a ‘breeder’ would raise and use a dog like Mally and that this is happening all over the country everyday. But, I talked to the trainer and she said this: “Kristi, Mally will never be a ‘normal’ dog. She’ll always be different than what you’re used too because of her early upbringing. Some dogs like her can be ‘saved’ in terms of living a normal life, and some can’t. Based on Mally’s time with you and years of neglect, she most likely is one who will always carry some issues with her.”
L went on to say that her rescue would take her and do their best to rehabilitate her…one of the rescue workers wants a female anyway and would give her a good home. So, I thought and thought about this. All day I kept asking myself what was best for Mally.
Then I realized what I have been doing wrong all these months; instead of that question, I rearranged some words and asked myself this: “What would I want if I were Mally?” And it hit me. I have been Mally in terms of feeling broken and unloved and different and scared and needy. Period. What if ma would have given up on me when I broke down? I wouldn’t be here typing this now. What if my sissy wasn’t there for me when I text her 911 (which is our code for ‘call me now!’) so I can vent and cry and get another perspective on things? What if O didn’t tell me how wonderful a ma I am and how much he loves me? What if my pop didn’t send me sweet texts everyday to let me know how much he cares? What if…what if…what if…?
Mally does need training, and I’m trying the best I can. But I realized that she needs a lot more than that. She needs love. Understanding. Patience. And someone who will look at her and tell her she’s special. I want her to know that no matter what, I’m her ma. Through the good and the bad.
Yes, I’m going to continue to get frustrated and wonder what I’ve gotten myself in to. But last night we were on the couch (watching Bridezillas…thank God I don’t have a daughter to worry about marrying off 🙄) and she looked up at me and I saw a glint in Mally’s eye for the first time. Her eyes didn’t look sad or defeated or empty. They looked like they had some life and love in them. Just like it took me a couple of years to build back up from breaking down, it’s going to be the same with Mally. Will she ever be ‘normal’? To be honest, I really don’t know what the fuck (sorry, ma 😳) that is anymore.
But I do know this. Mally is mine and I’m her mama. I’m going to stick by her and love her and do my best with her. We’re going to journey on our issues together…a bipolar ma with a neurotic pooch and Edward leading the way. And, I think it’s going to be one hell of a ride.