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Old February 3rd, 2011, 08:45 PM
LilMac LilMac is offline
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Toronto
Posts: 58
For ease of reference, here is the text of the note written by a volunteer:

"Venus Awaits"

I cannot remember a time since I started volunteering at the Toronto Humane Society where Venus wasn't somehow in the picture. Venus is a 7.5 year old spayed female German Shepherd Cross who has been in and out of the shelter a painful number of times. I know that for a while she was in a home where the other dogs bullied her, and because the dogs could not coexist peacefully, Venus was taken to the THS. We also know that when the OSPCA took over the THS last year, Venus was tagged a "yellow" dog - i.e. aggressive and only to be handled by OSPCA-designated individuals. The dog-walkers that she had gotten used to could no longer walk her and her sense of alienation worsened. She was then taken into foster care for several months, but that foster home could no longer keep her, and back to the THS Venus went again.

The saddest thing is that Venus is simply an AMAZING dog whose only crime is to suffer what Sam Malatesta calls "shelter syndrome." Similar reactions are experienced by puppy mill dogs, but as he explains in this blog, there are simple ways to help these dogs:

All of us who know Venus know that despite all that she has suffered, she has it in her heart to trust and love again. We also know that the few issues that she has are entirely workable in the hands of a moderately experienced dog handler. We have a plan, people, and resources available to assist whomever adopts her through the process of rehabilitation.

The main issue that Venus has is that each time she has bonded with someone, this bond was severed and she was abandoned at the shelter. Whomever adopts Venus will need to not have excessive expectations at the beginning, to give her time to ease into her new home without too many demands put on her, to bond with her people before complete obedience is demanded, to not be allowed to fail or screw up - even if that means putting a tight lid on what she does and whom she meets at first - so that her self-esteem which has been shattered by so much abandonment can be rebuilt again.

Venus displaces her trust issues on other dogs who come too close for comfort and with strangers who enter her space. Because she is a GSDX who cannot practice being one, she redirects her natural territorial aggressions on people who approach her kennel. That is why Venus resides in Back Hall at the THS as opposed to the main aisles accessible to the public.

Venus has completed a six-month round of training with Sam Malatesta, handled by longtime THS volunteer and dog-walker Cathy. With Cathy's handling, Venus has been successful focusing and obeying her commands with strangers and dogs around.

For more about the training philosophy that we have followed with Venus, please access Sam's website:

I personally fostered Venus for about six weeks last summer. She is the easiest dog to handle at home. She is house-trained, crate-trained, and INCREDIBLY MELLOW around the house. She is extremely laid-back, happy to snuggle the day away, and cover you with kisses. She loves to play ball and has a great prey drive. This is good news because there is an energy that one can work with and channel in the direction of her healing and flourishing.

Here are some great videos of her:

For more information about Venus, please access the Toronto Humane Society:

I hope she gets her forever home today before tomorrow. Good thoughts your way Veen. I love you.

- Souha
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