Tia is a two year old German Shepherd. For the first year of her life, she was kept in a filthy pen in a dark garage, with nine other, older dogs. The dogs lived in their own filth, and fought one another for what little food they were given. Tia’s life was one filled with pain and misery. She didn’t even have a name. A concerned member of the public alerted the authorities, and all the dogs were removed. An RSPCA spokesperson said “The dogs were living in horrific conditions. All of them were malnourished, and were covered in wounds, from fighting with one another, and from being beaten into submission.”
About a year ago the dogs were taken to a shelter where they were slowly nursed back to health. Tia, being the youngest, was in an awful state. Seriously underweight, with every rib clearly visible, and a deformed backbone, from living in such cramped conditions. She seemed like a hopeless case, unwilling to allow anyone to get near her, without cowering in the corner of her kennel. The shelter didn’t believe that she would ever find a home, because she was too traumatized. Then came Jan, a woman who, with her husband, had recently moved to the area. She was being taken past Tia’s cage to view another dog, and stopped to look at the fearful, whining Shepherd. She says “I looked at her and knew I had to take her home. I couldn’t bear the look of fear and desperation in her eyes.”
Shelter staff were surprised that Jan, or anyone, would choose to take on a dog with as many problems as Tia had. Jan was determined, and is an experienced Shepherd owner. She took Tia home. Tia hid herself in a corner, and was too terrified to eat. But Jan persisted, and used soothing words and a gentle hand to begin to gain Tia’s trust. Eventually Tia grew calmer in the house, but outside was a different matter. She would lunge for any dog which came anywhere near her, fearing that they were going to hurt her. Jan decided to keep Tia away from other dogs, and only walk her in the countryside, where there were no other dogs in sight.
Eventually she took Tia to a dog trainer, where Tia spent her first sessions barking and lunging at her class mates, panting and pacing because she was so stressed. After months of hard work and dedication, Tia has blossomed, and has transformed into a well mannered dog. She still barks at dogs when she first meets them, but she no longer snaps and lunges. Her bark is still a little nervous at times, but she now plays off the leash with all the dogs in her training class, and can now walk in the park. She now loves her training classes, and bounds around happily with her tail in the air.
On Sunday, Tia successfully completed her Silver Good Citizenship Award with her friends from class, along with some strange dogs from another class. She now lives happily with Jan and her family, and her new brother, another rescued German Shepherd called Murphy. Her best friend in the whole world is a Jack Russell called Oscar. “It makes my heart soar to see her so happy and well adjusted. There is such an amazing difference in her” says Tia’s mom, Jan. “To see her run and play with Oscar and Murphy, you would never believe she was the same dog that I took home from the shelter a year ago.”