After a ten-year life journey, it took less than one minute for Boomer's family dog pack to inflict near-fatal wounds and reduce his self-confidence to ground zero.
Boomer tried to return home after six weeks of intensive wound care, two surgeries, nearly six hundred sutures, and countless hours of physical rehab. Still, he couldn't because every previously cherished sight, sound, and smell invoked a fear response. What was once a happy four-dog home became a disharmonious environment ripe for further injuries or death.
Trauma is Uniquely Personal
Any event that disrupts a dog's perception of safety can shape future coping responses. Perception is unique to every dog; marking the memory doesn't take a life-threatening experience. For example, a loving pet parent forcibly restrains her dog's paw for nail clipping. Some pets may shake the non-pleasant experience off in a few hours, whereas others may 'mark' the memory and all sensory associations as threatening.
After a failed attempt to reunite their family pack, Boomer's parents sought a veterinarian's advice for options with a senior dog lugging a suitcase of medical and emotional needs. Hence, Welcome Home, Boomer!
A PTSD Bridge Over Trouble Waters
Highly documented by researchers, traumatic scarring of the psyche is not unusual in humans or animals. In essence, behaviors typically align with perceptions; therefore, perception rules. LGCR’s caregiving philosophy places a relationship premium on trust, and a trusting relationship's strength encourages post-traumatized senior dogs (PTSD) to cross their bridge of fears.
LGCR's sanctuary offers five acres of physical protection in a state that nationally ranks highest for shelter euthanasia and a county that passively condones its citizens shooting non-threatening-to-livestock dogs [i.e., Chihuahuas, Beagles, and Goldens] for straying from home.
'Healing Senior Life Hurts' is more than a tagline; the phrase illuminates our mission's therapeutic work of medical, physical, and emotional caregiving. For Buster and others like him, never again will he will feel abandoned and alone without a pack.
Loving and living with post-trauma senior dogs takes patience, respect, and human willingness to perceive the world through their lens because a human's mismanaged trigger can erase trust and self-confidence in a breath.
Our post-trauma resident list is substantial. Some encountered a single isolated event; others are indicative of cumulative life journey experiences. The degree of the trauma's impact is uniquely individual.
Shot in the mouth by the owner three years ago, Jack tolerates a camera phone lens or hairbrush only if he trusts that person.
A male family member crushed Job's face. Today's generalized preference is the female energy that elicits his most significant moments of expressing joy. Triggers are often 'generalizations'; therefore, we respectfully request that male visitors not wear hats in Job's presence and maintain an 'open hand' posture.
Early in Tyson's life journey, his youthful innocence attracted the horrific world of dog fighting, to be used as ‘bait’ for amping up other dogs' aggression. In 2020, Tyson arrived with ‘fear aggression' responses to other dogs, harnesses, leashes, and markedly low self-confidence.
Two years later, the perceived ghost of a traumatized young boy is a faded memory, no longer stealing opportunities for joy-filled living. Today, Tyson shepherds a chest box of stuffed toys to take one on walks and agility park adventures.
Our therapeutic goal for Boomer is to engineer a path for him to perceive that his life is possible without unhealthy fear, aggression, hypervigilance, urination, and trembling at the sight of other dogs. As with all PTSDs, the healing process takes time, and unfortunately, time is limited for senior dogs. But every moment granted is an opportunity to help them feel safe and worthy of human love.
In the event you find yourself living with and loving a PTSD, we offer three suggestions and links for further reading:
Healing a senior's life hurts is LGCR's ultimate therapeutic mission for residents. Nearing the end of a life journey, we welcome home Texas canines abandoned by society, broken in body, and often in spirit.
Helping seniors to rekindle feelings of 'being whole' and, for some, for the first time, is why LGCR is known to be
Where Love Resides.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.