Job Title: Shadow Dog


Where Firetruck Came From:

Firetruck was rescued from another county’s pound. She had been brought in as a stray.

I was looking for a youthful playmate for Allie and saw Firetruck’s photo. They were almost impossible to tell apart.  The listing said Firetruck was scared and her time was running out. I couldn’t let her die. I knew a fearful black dog would not be adopted. I called the pound. Firetruck was scheduled to be killed the next day.

We didn’t know if this scared black dog would fit in with our family, but I just couldn’t let her die. I found a rescue group that was willing to help me get her out of the pound. We would foster her until we decided if we’d adopt her or not. She was so scared when I brought her home that she hid in the closet. When she saw our other dogs she barked at them out of fear. So we left her in a bedroom where she could have peace. At night I slept with her so she wouldn’t be lonely. She was very gentle with the kids. After 48 hours her tail moved slightly side to side when I came in to visit her.

And then the troubles began. We think Firetruck had been used as a bait dog to train fighting dogs. Her teeth are filed and she has lots of white hairs on her face that could be from scars. Any time she saw our other dogs she tried to attack them. I was lucky to have the support of a friend experienced in dog rescue. Slowly we taught Firetruck to think good things about other dogs. We’d take her and gentle Marta on walks together. Well, they’d be on opposite sides of the road, but every time Firetruck looked at Marta she’d get a reward. Then we did that with them in the same room of the house. It was hard. Poor Firetruck and been trained that she must be offensive to stay safe.

It took 5 months, but Firetruck stopped trying to attack our other dogs. I can now put her in a crate with little Harvey when we drive to the vet’s or to Phoenix and I know he will be safe. Our dog Annie recently took offense at Firetruck accidentally landing on top of her (she fell off the bed) and Firetruck just walked away from the event.

Firetruck also enjoys being with my husband. Pretty amazing since it took longer for her to trust him than for her to stop trying to fight with the other dogs.

Now Firetruck is my shadow. That’s why she’s in so many of my videos. She has realized I will keep her safe and does not want to leave my side. I don’t know what was done to her but it must have been awful. She is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known and she has never been anything but gentle with our kids.

Firetruck’s story has a happy ending. Not all dogs so severely abused are so lucky. It takes a lot of work to retrain a dog with such deep issues. Unless someone is very experienced or has good support from an experienced person I do not recommend doing what we did. If we’d known what she was like we would never have brought her home. And had she not been so sweet with me and the kids we would not have tolerated her behavior with our other dogs. It is very possible that under different circumstances  a dog like Firetruck could have injure or kill another dog.

However, when I look back at all the things I’ve accomplished in my life, my kindness to Firetruck is one of my finest choices.


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