We see many things in rescue. The neglect and abuse that some people inflict on animals is horrific. There are many things that I can not deal with. I know they happen but I choose not to hear about it or read about it. I can’t handle it. I can handle the animals after the fact. I can feed and love them. I can help them learn to trust people. Under our care they learn how to be dogs. They are rarely made to do anything they don’t want to do. We feed human-grade raw food mostly and they get veterinary care. We really only have 3 rules: no aggression is allowed*, the humans are the alphas** and they must wait their turn for treats***.
I was chatting with Yvette from Turtle Gardens one day about a phenomenon she sees in northern BC. The dogs are so starved their bodies cannot produce the pigment required to give them colour. Think about this for a moment. They literally become white dogs because of lack of nutrition. I cannot fathom how this can happen.
We are now seeing it with our lovely Zoe. Zoe is a Shihtzu. The breed is known for being multi-coloured. Most Shihtzus**** are black or brown with white. Zoe is white. She had a little bit of grey on her ears and some staining on her legs but that was it for colour. Something is happening now. Her tail had a little abscess on it and the area was shaved. The hair is now coming in black. When she had the abscess on her head, that area was shaved so that the vet could drain the fluid on her head. That hair is now coming in black as well. I know that these are only 2 spots so I am not getting too excited. I do think it is significant.
It would seem that we have not yet met the real Zoe. It seems like she is still growing and morphing into a different dog. She has changed so much since she got here. She has gone from being a dog who lived on a shelf, who did not want to walk to a dog that is completely engaged in her world and loves to play. All of this makes me love our little Zoe ‘n Zoe even more.
*Any aggression is met with everyone in the vicinity yelling something like ‘hey’ or ‘what the fuck’ very, very loudly. It has been known to make guests jump out of their seats.
**Dogs need a leader. Without a leader dogs become anxious and unsettled which, in our case, puts the pack on edge. Aggression and fear increases and the dogs are not very happy.
***As part of the alpha and leadership philosophy, dogs must wait their turns for treats. Most often we will try to give treats in some kind of order. Sometimes length of time they have lived with us or age or in a row. The point is that they learn they are part of a family and they must wait their turn.
****Or Shihtheads as we like to call them.