From Nobody to Somebody

September 2009 our dog Noortje passed away and well since one grey is no grey we soon focused on a second dog.  We had a talk and as it happened 2 weeks later a transport of new Scooby dogs was coming to the Netherlands, among which Gasol. A black frightened galgo coming from Antonio, who got attacked at Scooby half a year after his rescue (and if he behaved there the way he behaves here, I’m not surprised that happened ;) ) Christiane and Roy found him hidden in his dog house, a little wounded heap, and rushed him to the clinic to get treatment and to be pampered by the volunteers present at that moment. Thank you everyone for your loving care!

October we could go and get him, frightened, very frightened he let himself be lifted into the car to be lifted out two hours later where he finally was home. Once inside we put him on the couch where he mostly stared at the ceiling. Whether that was because it’s so high or he just wasn’t used to it, we don’t know, but he was very interested in it! We put some dog treats with him but he couldn’t care less until the moment we were talking and not watching, then he quickly took his snacks! Sneaky boy. In the evening he started wandering about and found a spot in the back room under the table which has become his spot ever since.  In the mean while with a nice blanket, his own drinking bowl, his food and below his blanket a large stash of bones. Especially his own drinking bowl means the world to him, because Gasol doesn’t seem to feel an urge to drink himself, he has to see his drinking bowl or hear the other dogs drink, because of this we gave him his own bowl so he is reminded to have a drink all the time.
Sol was afraid of everything, inside the house he only ventured underneath the table. The first weeks we had to pull him from there to take a walk, outside everything was frightening. People, cars, bikes, dogs, a sound, but we were lucky Max was there for him and kept the other dogs at a distance. Gasol watched Max closely and knew that when Max went somewhere, it was safe there.  In December Max suddenly fell very ill, Gasol really comprehended and put his mind at standby, adapting totally, so we could focus on taking care of Max, unfortunately to no avail, meaning for Gasol that his trustworthy mate disappeared from his life all of a sudden.
As we said goodbye to Max we took Gasol. He wasn’t affected. Normally the dogs watched, smelled and wanted to leave, then it was okay. Not Gasol, looking back maybe not surprising. After all he has probably seen too many dogs die and it became normal to him… unbelievable but true.  After that Sol’s behaviour deteriorated quickly then; he had no one who protected him. So we needed to bring in a dog to help him, because how much us people would like to help, sometimes dogs can do much more than we can…
Leo moved in January 2010 and though Sol was rather afraid for Leo, being such a big dog, that worked out in no time. And Sol improved a little. Shortly he even ventured to Max’ old rug, just for a moment and as soon someone got up or entered the room he skuttled back under the table, but even so, what a progress!
In July he got another friend, Yuso. Yuso depended on Gasol for everything, now that turned out to be a golden approach! Yuso is the kind of dog that will remain a playful pup, no matter how old he gets. Even though he too has traumas outside the house, he isn’t bothered by anything inside the house and plays and acts as if life is a piece of cake.  Sol kept a watchful eye on all of this from under the table, until the day he actually got a bit jealous, he wanted to be like that too!  Yuso was busy playing with a pillow full of little ribbons he could tear off. I was sitting on the couch, relaxing and having a sandwich, when all of a sudden I saw Gasol walk from under the table, he got the pillow smacked on his head but rather than running away as would be expected, he started pulling on of the ribbons.  Yuso responded and started to pull at the other end, very gently, and let Gasol win. Proudly Gasol took his ribbon back under the table and threw it up in the air to catch it a couple of times.  And me? All I could do was sit and watch , amazed, did I see this right? It was quiet for a while until I had bought Yuso a sponge with lots of threads (the ones that make exellent material for pulling apart the lot!) Gasol got hold of the sponge and wouldn’t let go, under his table he was busy biting, attacking and ‘killing’ that sponge!
Since that day several sponges have met an early demise and Gasol became much more relaxed, he even dares playing a game of ‘snap’ with Yuso. Yuso is a fabulous dog, although he is a really wild one, he is always very gentle when playing with Sol, staying on his blanket quietly and only doing ‘snap’ when Sol snaps at him, when Sol stops, so does he. Also Leo watches them quietly from a distance, probably glad when he isn’t Yuso’s playing victim for a change, playing is fun, but also very tiring!

Now, 2,5 years later, Sol has grown into a big Monster. Yes, with a capital M. When there are bones in the room Sol is the first to get the biggest one, and if it so happens someone else got the biggest bone, Sol is not afraid to snatch it right from their mouth, though fortunately they are usually smart enough to take that bone to one of the places Gasol doesn’t dare to go – yet.  And cups of whipped cream, he loves those! Sol loves going for a ride, since a long time he has made a habit of standing between the front seats, overlooking whether we are doing everything right… in case we ever lose our way Sol will know where to go. While we had to pull him from under the table for walkies before, he now is the first to go in the hallway, ready to go out. The walk which used to be a quick run has now become a walk where everything has to be sniffed, and eating  grass, hey that’s also possible! What could be more fun that running very fast for a long while, on the lead? Because without lead mister Sol doesn’t budge, in the car he always waits patiently until we have attached both his lines before he jumps out.  Recently he learned a new trick, jumping on the couch for a bone! So we regularly position ourselves on the couch with some bones, it’s so much fun! What more will follow? Will he sleep on the couch some time?  Or will he go and explore the garden for a change?
Even though officially he is getting older and older he is changing more and more into a happy young dog who enjoys his playtime and his peace and quiet. And we? We are so happy to have him. Adopting a very traumatized dog isn’t always a picknick, isn’t easy, but looking at where he is now after 2,5 years, you know what you’ve been working for.  Though to be honest we haven’t done that much, either, we mostly allowed him to find out about his new life at his own pace, yes we did try to stimulate him by letting him smell things for example, but most of all this little man has done it all by himself, with the help of Yuso and Leo. And yes in the future I would do it all over again, not only has he learned a lot, maybe we have learned from him even more.
Gasol and his friends, Yuso & Leo