Isla – From Terrified to Treasured

Isla came to LHS from a rescue organization in California in September of 2023 after their team had worked with her for 2 years trying to build her confidence. They realized she was not progressing and knew that our training and behavior team might be better equipped to help Isla. She was so terrified when she arrived that she would not eat or drink except in the cover of darkness and never wagged her tail – cowering in the corner not knowing how to interact with people. Our Training and Behavior Shelter Manager, Erin Myers, (who is known to have an extremely compassionate heart), realized Isla would need some extra TLC and moved her from a kennel into her own office along with a more confident, friendly dog so Isla could feel safer and hopefully learn from her companion to trust humans more. After her spay surgery, Erin even took Isla home with her for several days to keep an eye on her and help her recover under less stress.

LHS has a top-notch training and behavior team – they specialize in saving dogs that would normally be euthanized in other shelters. Isla was in the right hands; they knew she needed every bit of behavior assistance they could provide to become an adoptable pet. She received special attention daily, and with the help of anxiety medication, Isla began to make slow progress. Several different members of the team took Isla home for slumber parties to give her breaks from the shelter. In December she was finally ready to meet new people and become an adoption candidate – with the requirement that there be another confident dog in the household who could help Isla feel more comfortable and show her how to live with a family.

After two months as a candidate, the right family found Isla. They fell in love with her sweet demeanor and felt they could help Isla come out of her shell. Her new friend, Lux the Mastiff, helps her feel safe and shows her that the world is not such a scary place. Here is an update we recently received from her new family:

Isla is the love of our lives. She is making baby steps. She gives lots of eye contact and actually wagged her tail once at my 19-year-old son!

She lets us know when she needs to go out and is happy to do so if Lux (our 220 lb Mastiff) goes with her and protects her. At first, she wouldn’t go and stayed next to my bed, not ready to move for the first day or so. I was a little worried about her holding it that long, but now she does stand by the door when she needs to go. She no longer shakes unless she is outside, which is a big change from her first few days.

It is a work in progress, but we are committed to earning her trust. She lays on my bed and snuggles a few hours before nighttime, then goes in her kennel. She is still pretty self-isolating but has a few safe places she likes to stay. She is not ready to roam freely in the house yet but watches everything and is getting accustomed to the household.

She is the sweetest girl and part of our daily lives, it’s like we’ve always known her. Every day we see micro improvements.”

Isla and her new family will have support from our behavior team for as long as they need it. Our commitment to our animals doesn’t end when they find their forever homes. In fact, it’s just the beginning of a lifelong partnership that we establish with our adopters. We recognize that the transition from shelter life to a new home can be both exciting and challenging, and we’re here to provide unwavering support every step of the way.

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