Fab Five - One Year Later Part 2 of 5 - Gunner
Valerie W. Gunners Foster and Forever Mom
Last Memorial Day, I was asked by one of our Directors to go and help assess 7 dogs that were in Clayton needing rescue. This was a day that I would never forget. We met the Guardian Angel named Angie, a kindhearted, loving Animal Control Officer that was trying to find a rescue that would take these 7 dogs from a difficult neglect situation. She devoted her time, energy, and love coming out twice a day, to feed and clean the kennels and spend time with them. She did this for three months! What we saw we would never forget. These 7 magnificent dogs were shut down emotionally, in bad health situations, and needing to find foster homes ASAP. We all vowed that day to get those dogs out and find foster homes for them. We bathed and brushed them in 100 degree heat. We took the dogs for a walk, but that feat in itself was challenging. Each dog wanted desperately to get back into its safety zone of the small kennel walls.
Gunner was the youngest of the Magnificent 7 dogs, which became the Fabulous Five. He was two years old, living in a small kennel with his 11 yr old mother. He was a frantic dog, scared of everything around him outside of his kennel walls. Gunner’s first walk was done by a young Johnston County volunteer named Allie. I should say that Gunner took her for a walk, since he was wild on a leash- LOL! To see all of these people there to help was such a heartwarming feeling, each one coming out on this hot day to help these animals. This was true rescue, down in the trenches amongst the dirt and filth. In rescue, it is our gift to see beyond the sadness and defeat, and see the true soul that lies beneath that exterior. These dogs had such huge potential that we just couldn’t leave them behind. We started going out to see them in our spare time, and with each visit there, they started opening up more. A moment that I will never forget was when Andrea, Angie, and I took all five dogs for a walk. They were actually happy now to be outside of the kennel, and Tina, Buster, Queenie, and Gunner wanted to continue to walk longer distances, but Georgia wanted to head home since she just wasn’t quite ready yet to be out for long periods of time. Seeing the happiness on their faces and made it all worthwhile!
Gunner was skittish to human touch since this was a new experience for him. Watching him walk on grass for the first time was almost heartbreaking, since the touch of the grass scared him. He would walk around in circles and the longer that he was exposed to a new situation, the worse it would become to the point of spinning around. We knew this dog would be one of the most difficult to handle since he spent his whole life in that kennel and had NO socialization. Gunner came into foster care first. He was the most nervous dog that I have ever experienced. I spent the night on the floor with him with my hand on the crate door that first night. As it turned out, Gunner cannot be crated. It is too much for him to mentally deal with. Slowly, day by day, he started to emerge into a different dog. It did take me a month to house train him. Our house became the safety place like his kennel was, so when he went outside, he would panic and make a run for the house. It took lots of patience and treats, and then one day it just happened. What a glorious day for me!
Fast forward to one year later. I adopted Gunner on Christmas Day. I love this dog so much that I could never have let him go. We have been through so much together and are extremely bonded! Gunner has developed into a well-balanced, very happy boy. He absolutely LOVES to play! If no one is interested in playing with him, no worries, he will play by himself. He will nip at a blade of grass and take off running. He also loves to chase squirrels and has many to run after here!
|Gunner Does the Beach|
For almost a year, he would quickly dart away from my 9 yr old daughter. Now he goes up to her, will let her pet him, and often gives her licks of love! He is able to comfortably lie next to her and will let her pet him and actually enjoy it.
Gunner also during this past year underwent water therapy due to his conformation. As you may remember, he has hip dysplasia, and due to his lack of exercise in his prior life and had poor muscle mass and strength. We exercise him a lot with low impact activity, do sit and stand exercises, and he underwent water therapy on a treadmill. The water therapy was a gift from another Guardian Angel! We couldn’t have done it without him! It has made a difference to Gunner, and he now sits up higher on his haunches. His muscle tone is much better, and he has good muscle mass.
Gunner’s seizures have been few and far between, thank goodness. The last one he had was at Bark Around the Park, and was just a mini seizure. We continue to monitor for them, and if they become more frequent or severe, then we will have to start him on medication. For now, we are sitting tight.
|Gunner and his Papa Buster|