Dog trains man

Thursday, January 24, 2013

First Dogs Adopted: Now What?

Bella - first of the "grown up" Hovies up for adoption
Earlier than expected the first dogs from the former puppy mill already went up for adoption, and ... were also adopted. So far 8 dogs are adopted. Earlier during the week the first of the puppies started appearing on the adoption site, and yesterday the first grown-up Hovawart, Bella, almost 4 years old, was put up for adoption; a milestone.

Bella is still shy, but the shelter noticed she already made big steps forward on a daily basis, so they were confident Bella was ready to make the next step. Amazing, as it is only a week after they were seized. Dogs are so resilient.

They are all carefully evaluated by the shelter's behavioral expert, and of course some requirements are put forward to the future families. In shy Bella's case that was: a family experienced with dogs, a calm environment, and no small kids. Of course, the future family is briefed in more detail, but...

What does that mean? Can you summarize instructions for the rest of Bella's life in one or two short sentences? What does it require to take care of a shy, anxious or fearful dog which had a life so far confined to the inside of a cage in dark stables, deprived of daylight and social interaction with humans?

I asked Debbie Jacobs, CPDT-KA, and author of the book "A Guide To Living With & Training A Fearful Dog", what would be her main piece of advice to the people that are about to adopt a dog from the former puppy mill:
"The most important point at this time for these dogs is that they feel safe, have their choices for distance respected and receive LOTS of good food treats and if they want, playtime with the people or other dogs in the house."
When I adopted fearful Viva some years ago I felt a lot like how some of you might feel today, when you are about to adopt one of the puppy mill dogs. It was mostly a leap of faith from my side. Debbie's book and blog was a tremendous help in understanding Viva better, and helping her to be the happy and not so fearful dog she is today. According to Debbie that is very well possible for the puppy mill dogs as well:
"If these dogs are going to be successful it's going to be because their owners are able to respond appropriately to behaviors they are seeing. Thankfully even many of these dogs who have suffered so much or been deprived, can become successful pets."
When you are not a natural like me, and you consider to adopt one of the dogs, you might find Debbie's blog very helpfull. A great place to start exploring all the resources available is Getting Started, and just take it from there. Or if you like it better, consider the book.

You are on a mission. It will not happen overnight. Some of the things you do today and cherish, you might have to find alternatives for. But the reward of success for you and your dog will be a bond that goes so deep, you not have thought possible. It will have its ups and downs, but it will definitely be worth it. At least, that is how I feel now, looking back at the journey of Viva and me so far.

Back to the dogs. The shelter mentioned the interest for the Hovawarts is a lot less than for the Golden's. Maybe understandable, as the Golden's are a lot more well-know to most families. On the other hand you will read with most Hovawarts in the accompanying requirements-text that a family with Hovawart experience would be preferable. That makes me wonder. There are not that many Hovawart families in Denmark. Most of them are torn beforehand by the 20 year's existence of this puppy mill and having advocated not to buy from the puppy mill.

Therefore I hope that the shelter will soon accept adoption requests from experienced Hovawart parents from surrounding countries as well. Or maybe even, overseas, although the shelter rightfully worries the long travel might be too stressful for the dogs.

And to keep the best news to the end: I just learned that the first Hovawart puppy was adopted by a family. Her name is Stella, only 5 months old. She is a careful little girl and her new family will provide her with a calm environment just to her liking. Wishing Stella and her family all the best. I am delighted.

I almost can't believe this is happening now. Stella will soon make her first new steps in life, into the light and with her freedom regained. More will follow. I wish I could be a fly on the wall with them all.


You can find the adoption page here. Inquiries can be send to internat (at) mail (dot) dk.

For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.


  1. So soon what brilliant news. Blogville is filled with ex puppy mill dogs who do have some issues but in the main enjoy their loving forever homes. We hope it will be the same. Have a terrific Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. I'm so happy that a new, good life has begun for them. It's no easy to raise up the dog with a hard past but it's rewarding and all those dogs deserved to be loved.
    I hope they all gonna find their own families!

  3. It's wonderful that these dogs are moving so quickly through the system. They've been deprived for so long, they deserve warm, soft beds and families who love them as soon as possible. You must be tickled to have played a part in it all.

  4. Really thanks for this great update !!!!

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