Ripley arrived at Dane County Humane Society in May from an overcrowded shelter in Mississippi. We quickly noticed she was scared and nervous, and we looked for ways to make her more comfortable. We started her on medication to help reduce anxiety and fear. When she was scared to walk on tile floors, we laid towels and blankets down to make a path to her kennel. She hated to cross the threshold of the office she was living in, and out in the play yard, she would shake and hide. It became clear that the medication and support of staff just weren’t enough, and the terrifying experiences set Ripley’s progress back each day.
All this information helped us realize that Ripley had extreme agoraphobia, so we moved her to a foster home where she’d be more comfortable and feel safer. Even there, she was so afraid of the outdoors that she wouldn’t leave a single room. But lucky for Ripley, she had a loving foster mom, Nikki, who wanted to do whatever she could to make life better for Ripley.
Accepting that Ripley needed to stay in her room to feel safe, Nikki trained her to use puppy pads so she didn’t have to go outside. They also worked on some basic training exercises to help Ripley learn exquisite manners, and she even mastered a few fun tricks! Slowly and steadily, with care, patience, and trust, Ripley’s foster mom taught her that the world wasn’t so scary a place.
We still worried about Ripley’s future. Even as she made great strides in her training, she was still afraid to leave her room in the foster home. We knew we’d need to find her a very special home to meet her special needs.
But even as we looked for Ripley’s perfect family, Ripley’s perfect family was looking for her.
“I had been searching for the one dog that was going to choose me,” says Raelynn, Ripley’s new mom. “I searched the website and don’t remember any except Ripley Girl! I had already decided she was mine, and whatever came with her was fine by me.”
It was love at first sight. “The moment her eyes locked with mine – I knew she chose me.” Ripley the special dog had found her special home.
Ripley and her family needed about a month to find their new normal, but with plenty of patience, care, and listening to each other’s needs, they found their perfect balance. Now, Ripley likes going on long walks with her family, zooming through leaves, snuggling with her people, and hogging the bed. She continues to excel during her training sessions.
“Everyone gets a handshake,” says Raelynn. “She has very good manners. Fear doesn’t mean aggressive or unpredictable!” Ripley is, in fact, a sweetheart who conquered her fears and serves as an ambassador for agoraphobic dogs.
“She doesn’t leave my side. She loves the kids. Ripley Girl knows I am grateful she chose me and my kids to be her family!”
It’s thanks to supporters like you that DCHS can create specialized solutions for dogs like Ripley who need a little extra help. Your generous support makes it possible for every dog that comes through our doors to receive the care and comfort they need and deserve.
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