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Arnie’s Struggle Ends in a Furever Family!

A merry-go-round, or better yet, a roller coaster describes Arnie’s young life. Both rides keep going up and down and all around, over and over again! First Arnie had a home, then he didn’t, then he did, then he didn’t, then he did…. That’s a LOT for any dog to endure, let alone a young dog  learning how to navigate the  complex and ever-changing human world. Since change (even good change) is stressful, it wasn’t surprising that Arnie could be intense and almost frantic in his behavior, a very common response to stress.  Never knowing what to expect can put anyone on edge! Add that to his strength and determination, and he could definitely be a handful. But underneath it all, he was a very sweet dog who craved human attention and physical affection.

Arnie was adopted from a shelter in Miami. We know he had at least one home before that. After he arrived in his new home in the Keys, Arnie’s behavior became very challenging for his adopter. He was never aggressive, just too intense and overwhelming for the other dogs and a young child in the house. After three weeks in the home, he was brought to the FKSPCA. As he settled in with us, we observed something interesting. While the other dogs around him were barking and jumping, Arnie would sit quietly in his run, almost with a Zen-like calmness. His appealing looks and deceptively well-mannered behavior made him look like the perfect dog to potential adopters. BUT, once out of his kennel, he became a whirling dervish of activity: spinning, jumping, and pulling with the power of a freight train. Not an easy one to handle!

We could see Arnie was struggling. The build-up of stress caused by all the changes in his young life combined with the stress of shelter life was just too much. His nervous system was overloaded. The poor dog was doing the best he could to cope, using the only strategies he knew. To help him, we added enrichment activities (puzzle feeding and nose work games), along with “decompression” walks providing time and space to move and sniff. We also began to implement some reward-based training games to help Arnie build confidence and self-control. We saw improvement. However, what he ultimately needed was a good home.

We identified a wonderful person who came in repeatedly and worked with Arnie and was interested in adopting him. Things were going well. Together we decided it was worth a try, given her kindness, willingness, and available time to work with him. Unfortunately, once he was back out in the real world, Arnie’s challenging ways intensified. That, coupled with his strength, became too much to safely manage, so he came back to us.

A few weeks later, a nice young couple came looking for a dog and asked about Arnie. We were open and honest about all his good qualities and also those that might present a challenge. They seemed open to helping him, and we wanted him to have another chance at success. Arnie walked out the door with them, ready for a new life.

 Arnie has landed in a good place. Videos and photos suggest that he is happy and settling in to a new life. He is making friends, both two-legged and four-legged, learning new skills, and enjoying fun-filled adventures.  Arnie has given his new family a seal of approval and it appears to be mutual. We recently got this update:  “He is such a sweetheart; we are so happy we decided to adopt him!” Those are the words we love to hear!