When SCARS first heard about Peanut, they were responding to a call from a Northern Alberta Community. We were informed that an unwanted dog and her pups had moved into a local resident's doghouse. When the volunteers arrived, they found two adult females and some puppies. These unwanted adult dogs were later named Pumpkin and Peanut. The volunteers caught Pumpkin and the puppies, which belonged to Peanut, but Peanut evaded repeated capture attempts. The volunteers were eventually forced to leave without her, but Peanut would not be forgotten. Although she was spotted in the community periodically, it wasn't until a year later that Peanut was captured and SCARS was able to collect her from the community's dog pound. Once again, Peanut had a batch of puppies, but Peanut was finally safe and SCARS was able to find homes for all of her puppies.
That was about 18 months ago. Peanut is what many would call a “feral” dog. She was very frightened and shy so human interaction was next to impossible. However, she did have a tremendous love for other dogs. She found comfort in a new friend named Buzz, the shepherd cross that was her kennel mate. Peanut's caregiver, Sylvia Christiansen, could tell that Peanut was just scared, not aggressive or confrontational. She saw the potential for Peanut, and knew the timing had to be right for her rehabilitation so she made a decision to, for the time being, keep Peanut at SCARS' primary foster facility near Athabasca. Then one day in February, Buzz found his forever home! Peanut watched as her best friend moved on to a bright new future, without her. She was sad, and seemed a bit confused about the lack of companionship. SCARS knew the time had come to advance Peanut into a foster family environment.
To rehabilitate a dog such as Peanut, the foster home had to be prepared to introduce new things very slowly. For the first two weeks, Peanut only left the safety and comfort of her crate to eat and to go outside. She would allow her caregivers to pet her, but only while she was in her crate. Slowly, she started to venture down the hallway but then would hide under the table. Her curiosity was an excellent sign that she was starting to trust her surroundings. Her foster family would try daily to encourage her to eat from their hands, and to allow them to approach and pet her (which usually only occurred when she was running past them). Her relationship with the resident dogs became stronger as well. They were pivotal in Peanut's rehabilitation process. They showed her that human interaction was actually a very positive thing. Within six weeks, her four foot safety distance had been reduced to about one foot. This progress made her foster family very happy. By week eight, she was allowing them to approach her slowly and pet her gently. Still, if there were sudden movements, she would run away. After being in SCARS care for almost 18 months, Peanut was ready for adoption if the right home came along. The new home would have to accept that she might always be shy. They would have to understand her fears and want to do what it takes to make a difference in her life. She still had some growing to do, but SCARS felt it would be good if she could continue to learn trust in her new “furever” home. SCARS knew it could still take months to find the right home for her, but within four days of announcing that she was finally ready to be adopted, her family found her. The family came to meet her and saw the same potential that Sylvia saw in her many, many months ago. After being spayed in the middle of May, Peanut will be brought home by her new family for a long life of unconditional love!