It’s been three years Naila is with us. We can read her every move and she ours. She takes us for walks and away from an otherwise much more sedentary life and brings us closer to nature. We were lucky I guess with her character, but also patient.
Two years of patience, going through some tough times with her leg surgeries that reduced her and our mobility soon after she arrived, dealing with car sickness and nightly spells of diarrhoea and her being closed up in herself, never wagging her tail, full of resignation stemming from all the hardship of her previous life.
We gave her the time to grow beyond all these things and it worked, patience worked combined with gentle guidance. She learned that she is safe with us and she now follows us, happily and tail wagging like a shadow, even though she is our sunshine.
I rescue where I can, be it closer to home or abroad. I rescued mainly from Egypt, because it is a country I visited often and had some connections with, but I would do it regardless of location. There is only so much you can do as an individual, but it is important that you do.
Once, whilst on holiday in Egypt, I sponsored the neutering of a stray dog. Not much, but if more tourists would help countries they visit in this manner then maybe the stray population and attitude towards them could be greatly changed and it also provides work for the local vets, helps the people there suffer less from canine overpopulation.
We adopted Naila from Egypt. She’s been with us for three years now after living in the desert for the first year of her life. She came to us with no skills of how to live indoors and in a city whatsoever, but in time she adapted beautifully.
What did you find really helped Naila to adapt to her new life? Patience and not forcing her into things. Taking baby steps whenever she was ready. Using positive reinforcement, not punitive methods that could erode trust and psychological safety. Putting aside our own selfish desires of wanting behaviours from her she wasn’t ready to give. Time is of the essence.
Looking back what (if anything) would you do differently? Nothing, except being better at getting her used to the car. We didn’t really know how to approach this in the right manner, but we are getting there slowly.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of adopting a dog from abroad? Take things slowly and don’t give up. Your dog needs to “reprogram” everything they know about their environment and that takes time. Work on developing trust first and foremost, at least for the first three month, no other type of training or even worse punitive methods that would be counterproductive. Always use positive reinforcement and of course if you see that the dogs is responsive then go for it, but don’t overdo it. Observe their personality and tailor your approach to it. Patience, perseverance, gentle guidance and the results will be there.
What is one overwhelming positive thing that has come a result of adopting your dog? Having an amazing non-human being I am very closely connected with and that enriches life in many different ways.