Meet Foxy Brown the Feral Hound.
Before Foxy came into my life, my pack was calm. Things had gone back to the way they’d been before I rescued Boo Radley, lost him a few months later, then rescued Cocoa Loco and lost her seven months later. My two OGs (that means original gangster, Mom), Atticus (aka Big Bones, aka Bonesy, aka Nugs, aka Atty) and Scout (aka Scouty McScouterson, aka Medium Bones, aka Scouty, aka ScoutScout, aka Nug Nugs, aka Nuggy) soaked up all the attention and affection and those two cats that live here would take a few ear scratches now and then.
Things were quiet. Things were peaceful.
And then I did what I always seem to do when things are perfect. I got hormonal and went trolling the local animal control Facebook page. And I saw a plea to foster three feral dogs, siblings that didn’t stand much of a chance for adoption if they weren’t socialized first. They had been living on someone’s property but had either never been handled or they’d been abused to the point of total fear.
What’s that, you say? Psychologically damaged? Needy? A sad story? I’LL BE RIGHT THERE!
And when I got there I found this:
The other female had already gone to a foster home, so I agreed to foster the remaining two, a larger male and tiny little female. We got leashes on them and had to practically drag them out of the building, at which time Foxy promptly pooped all over herself. The male started to go crazy, bucking like a wild bronco, thrashing everywhere.
I got scared. I had visions of him attacking my two OGs. They are so accepting of every dog that comes through my door. I couldn’t expose them to possible danger. So I made the decision to only foster Foxy, a decision I immediately regretted because within five minutes he had bitten through his leash and run away. I found out later he’d run through the woods out to the highway and been hit and killed by a car.
I brought Foxy home and kept her in a crate on the porch for the first few days. She was so terrified of everything she wouldn’t look me in the eye. I couldn’t touch her without her drawing herself up into a tight ball and lifting her back leg, as if to try to protect herself. She smelled awful from all the fear pooping, so she had to get used to me pretty quickly because I had to wipe her down with baby wipes just so I could stand to be near her.
I spent a lot of time sitting on my porch just talking to her.
After a few days, I brought her and her crate into the house and began to integrate her into the pack.
And I fell in love. Hard love. Love so deep that looking at her made my heart hurt a little.
She was so scared. She would jump up and run away if I tried to touch her. If she was cornered, she’d just curl up and shake and go stiff as a board when I tried to pet her to soothe her. This wasn’t just normal fear. This was batshit crazy, psycho fear. But never once did she ever show any signs of aggression, never once did she so much as show her teeth.
And so I pressed on. A scratch behind the ear turned into a scratch on the belly. I gave her a corner of the living room between the couch and loveseat, a space only big enough for her. She felt safe in there.
And my pack accepted her, as they always do. Having them around gave her comfort. They helped her understand that it was ok to follow them to another room and that I wasn’t going to hurt her.
My OGs are the only reason she let me get this close at first.
The only time Foxy ever relaxed was when she was sleeping. I cried every time I found her asleep like this, because it made me so happy to see her relaxed.
I started sneaking over to her and gently petting her while she was asleep, so that she would slowly wake up and realize I was touching her and not freak out so much.
Eventually I realized that allowing her that safe space wasn’t doing us any good anymore. She needed to get used to me moving around. So I closed off her space. I also talked to the vet about anti-anxiety meds, because I felt like I needed something to help me just a little. Everything was still so stressful for her. Anything new led to absolute terror and total panic. And when you have a feral fear pooper, you will try anything to ease her worried mind.
Foxy takes her meds now, and they seem to be helping her. Between the meds and closing off her corner, I can now approach her without her running away. She still cowers and shakes when I first touch her, but she’s getting better. My friend’s daughters came to visit last week and they made huge strides with her, even getting her to crawl halfway out of her bed for some chicken!
I’ve had Foxy Brown for ten months. Life is much more complicated now. I can’t just take off and ask anyone to dog sit because sometimes she gets spooked when I call her to come back in and she runs back into the yard and does her crazy nervous loop, watching the back door, wanting nothing more than to come inside and run straight back to her bed, yet scared to come through the door. Sometimes I have to stand there for five minutes with the door open, coaxing her in a singsong voice. I can’t just put her in the car and go, because of her fear pooping problem.
I’m starting to take her on walks to get her more used to the world outside. Getting her out the door is super stressful on both of us, but once I get her outside and I start walking, she trots alongside me, constantly looking up at me for reassurance.
My pack has completely accepted her, but I never expected anything different.
Deep down, in my heart of hearts, I was waiting for her sister, Hope, to be socialized by her foster home, and then I wanted to go adopt her and reunite her with Foxy so they could have each other like Big Bones and Scouty have each other. Sadly, Hope died from an allergic reaction to de-worming medication.
Foxy is the only one left of the three siblings.
Every time I look at her my heart cracks open. I want nothing more than to protect her for the rest of her life. I want to help her learn to trust me. I want her to jump up on the bed and snuggle with me. I want her to not cringe in fear every time I get down on the floor with her.
I never seem to get the easy dogs.
I just want her to love me as much as I love her.
And so I wait