Sometimes, we wonder what it would be like to be a dog. Don’t lie, you totally do as well. That’s because dogs know the secret to a good life is a belly rub, someone to tell you you’re pretty all the time, and a poop in the woods.
They also know that that the key to ultimate happiness is living in the moment. To be only concerned with things that are happening now, not what happened last week, what will happen next week, or what happened that one time in the fourth grade with the scissors and the hair and the accidental mullet. *shudders*.
Ah, the simple, living-the-moment life. It’s an instinctual, beautiful approach to living, one that dogs have nailed down, and one that we envy. Dogs seek very little in order to be truly happy. Unlike humans, who worry about rent, bills, what to say to a new tinder match, where their life is going, where their bottle of Red went, when they’ll have downtime to binge on Gilmore Girls, dogs take the “Don’t worry, be happy” path of life. Where food, a home, the occasional squirrel, and you are the only things they care about. Dogs won’t hold grudges. They won’t’ worry about that haircut that wasn’t even a haircut. They forgive, they forget, and they move on.
Or at least, most do.
Meet Cora, a 1.5-year-old Mountain mix who is learning how to live in the moment again, which, at its heart, looks more like simply learning how to be a dog again.
Cora is a beautiful soul who comes from a violent, hoarding situation. Raised in a home that saw no kindness, structure, or proper care, this sweet soul learned early on that her present was a limited, dark surrounding that held little to no love or joy. Cora developed a “flight” instinct, choosing to fearfully submit to threats and violence or shut down completely when presented with a stimulant that triggered her.
She has only known harm and chaos from an angry, male dominant home, a home that neglected her, harmed her, and often left her and the several other animals to fend on her own. As is often the case in typical animal hoarding scenarios, Cora’s basic needs were not met, and when she was rescued, she was living in unsanitary, unhealthy conditions, and was malnourished.
A hoarding situation is defined as a “living environment where a person or person accumulate animals in numbers that exceed the person’s abilities to provide for the basic needs of the animals, resulting in animal suffering.” Despite all that they’ve witnessed and experienced, though, dogs in hoarding situations can often recover physically.
And that’s just what Cora did. She bounced back into a healthy, loveable dog, who, during the initial inspection, looked like the ultimate family companion: gentle, kind, a bit quiet, but with a loving temperament. Through all her suffering, Cora’s sweet disposition endured, and from the get-go, we knew that Cora, with some time and patience, would only need a little work to get her to remember that people can be good. We thought this would be a matter of weeks.
We were wrong.
It happens sometimes. Feral dogs come in a variety of personalities. Because Cora had never been socialized properly and because she came from a hoarding scenario, her new surroundings, the people, the dogs, it hit her all at once. Cora shut down completely. Upon her arrival in Canada, Cora grew more fearful, shy, and distant, showing confusion and disorientation at basic things like being outdoors, going to the bathroom, or even being on a leash. And the reality hit us: our beautiful Cora was feral.
A feral dog is a dog that was once domesticated that have little or no contact or bonding with humans. They typically avoid, submit, or shut down when faced with situations or people. They don’t know how to do “normal” dog things, like being out of a cage. They don’t know what stairs are, what noises from TV are. Kids, vacuums, doorbells, a sudden movement, a bird flying by a window. They don’t know how to play with toys, how to accept petting, or walk on a leash. Little things that should have been integrated into her puppyhood that were robbed of her due to the unfortunate hand that the universe dealt her.
Think of Cora like a puppy. She’s new to the world. She’s experiencing things for the first time, but not at a puppy curiosity level, where the new things are intriguing and exciting. She’s experiencing them through a fear filter, a fear she’s learned from the hands of cruelty.
Cora lives a half world: one in the present and one in the past. She constantly questions her every day, torn between her instincts to move forward and her learned fear of people.
But that’s not the end of her story. That’s far from it.
Cora needs a lot of work, but she is already making strides with her foster family. Cora is taking daily walks with her foster human, Michelle, and foster bruh, Lou. They go for jaunts in the woods, take time outside on busy streets to familiarize her with things like cars and pedestrians. Just last week, she took a long car ride out to Whistler! She may not have fully embraced cars, yet, but she’s completely embraced Whistler.
Our beautiful girl has a long road of recovery ahead of her, but she has an incredible team behind her, who love and reward her for every obstacle she encounters, no matter how small. She still has a few months of work ahead of her, but soon, this gal will be looking for that furever home to show off all she’s learned about being a dog.
If you’re interested in adding Cora to your Squad, here’s what you need to know:
Cora needs a mellow home environment, a place that is stable and calm physically as well as mentally. She also needs her main human to be female, as she cannot fully move past the abuse she suffered at the hands of her previous male owner (this doesn’t mean she’s aggressive with males, just that she deflects properly by ignoring them). It would also be a huge bonus if you have a cool-as-a-cucumber doggo for Cora to continue learning from.
She also needs a home with a secure yard. When Cora is afraid, her first instinct, no matter how much love and trust she has in her person, is to run. It’s just how she is hardwired now. She also needs a firm hand while on walks, as little things can set her off and make her want to run, like fireworks, a car backfiring, or even garbage trucks.
Cora has zero aggression, which is the best possible outcome considering her past. She will deflect properly when presented with things that she doesn’t like. But when stressed, she will choose to run, hence needing someone firm, vigilant, but patient.
We would also love our applicant to be willing to work closely with Cora’s foster family, since we know the transition from her foster home to her furever home will take time.
But above all, Cora needs people behind her that are cheerleaders. To help her remember how to be a dog. That love her to the preverbal moon and back and remind her every day that she is worth loving. Who appreciate her complex past, as we all carry one, and that don’t mind the extra work it may take to earn her trust and prove that she can believe in humans again.
Cora is on her way to becoming a well-adjusted member of her foster family. In the next few months, she will graduate into a dog looking for her new home. She might need a little extra help along the way. She might need a lot of help other days. But Cora has a lot of love to give. She just needs someone to believe in her.
If you think you’re the right fit, if you want to be the one to not only give her a second chance but also help her to live in the present again, to remember what it’s like to be a dog again, then we want to hear from you.