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The story of how we got Kenzo is both sweet and sad. He belonged to our neighbors. When we moved into the house across the road we would pet him through their high metal fence whenever we could and smuggle out treats to him. Soon, he would keep running away from his owner's house to come find us; once we found him wandering around in our living room. The family he belonged to was cruel to him, and finally, after Kenzo constantly running away to us and cutting his nose trying to get under their fence, the owner just walked him across the street with a pathetic bag of dog belongings and gave him to us.
This was one of the best days of my life. Kenzo is such a typical dachshund, intelligent, sassy, vocal, and so loving. However, having a dog with such damage can be difficult, and it can be hard to make them comfortable and give them some confidence within your household. Some behaviors we have observed are listed below:
- Very poorly trained
- No etiquette with walking on a leash or playing with other dogs
- Aggressive towards little girls (the family had a young girl, we suspect she may have played too rough with him.)
- Fear of children in general
- Fear of being left alone
- Anxiety when left in the house alone
- Very affectionate towards us
- Afraid of certain things in the house: brooms, doors, etc.
Despite these quirks, Kenzo has proven to be an amazing family dog. After spending some time with us, though he doesn't know formal commands, he does respond to when we call him, and he understands certain words like walk, pee, and forest. He is also better with staying home alone and coming with the family on drives and vacations. Though he is still not very fond of young children, he is no longer aggressive towards them and will let them pet him and sit with him.
One of the most important parts of integrating Kenzo into a loving home was constant reassurance. He really lacked confidence and security at first, so to comfort him we spoke to him while we did daily chores so he could feel a sense of presence, as well as gentle physical comforting. Today, he is very clingy and loves to be near us, however, at first, stroking him was to calm his nerves when there was a lot of activity and if someone was leaving the house, because that made him very anxious.
Another challenge was food. We made the mistake of cooking his food (like rice with carrots and chicken), so he does not eat normal dry dog food. However, when we first got him, he had very little experience with treats. His previous family would often just give him dry bread for meals; so when we would offer him a dog treat, he was not sure what to do with it. To this day he has the strangest taste in treats, one of his favorites is a plain cracker with a little butter on it, some smashed banana, or even plain dried oats.
He was also not used to having a dog bed. Anyone who owns a dachshund knows that they get sore hips. His previous owners only gave him an old towel to sleep on while he slept in a tiled area, so now he has very stiff hip joints. Therefore, when we got him, one of the first things we bought was a comfy warm bed and we dedicated one padded chair for him to sleep on. Because he is not neutered, he sometimes has...'relations' with his soft bed, in which case we have to take it away and he has to sleep on his chair.
It was difficult to see an animal be so unsure about their environment and situation. I was clear not only in his behavior but his health as well. When he first started living with us, he would growl and get very scared when we would try to pet him or sit too close to him. He would also not eat when we left him home alone for the day and he would experience a lot of dandruff as a symptom of stress. To adjust to this, we were gentle into integrating cuddles into his routine, as well as accommodating to bring him with us as much as possible when we leave the house. Though he still protests to being left home alone, he is now a very cuddly pup and is far better adjusted.
All in all, Kenzo is a dream dog, and like any rescue dog, all he really wants is love and patience. Yes, he still has some issues, but nothing that doesn't add to his colorful personality, and my entire family is better for having him. If you ever hesitate to adopt or are frustrated with your new special pup, remember that they are feeling that anxiety and their entire world has just changed; so make sure to let them know you love them and that it is their house too.