View Full Version : Help me with Sadie!!!

21st November 2006, 12:02 AM
Hi to all the Cavalier experts out there. I just rescued my first Cavalier. She was rescued from a puppy mill by Hearts United for Animals in Auburn, NE. She was 6 months old when they rescued her and I got her when she was 7 1/2 months old. From all that I have read out Cavaliers, they are loving, lap dogs. Well, I think after 6 months of the brutal enviornment she was in, she is emotionally damaged. She is scared of humans, we cannot approach her without her running away. She will come up to me but I can only pet her with one hand, if I reach for her with both, she runs. We are also having a really hard time house training her. I do have two other rescues, a lab and a pom, whom she loves to death. Her and the lab play and I think she has adopted her as her surrogate mom. The funny thing is, when we go to bed at night, all three of them sleep with us, she turns into this cuddly, kissy, puppy. She has like two personalities. She also goes balistic when she is on a leash.

I need some advice. I realize this is going to take time, but will I ever have that lovable dog that I read about? All we want to do is let her know that she will never be hurt again.

21st November 2006, 12:18 AM
Hi and welcome to the board.

First of all, well done for taking in Sadie & for wanting to help her become 'normal' :flwr:

How long have you had her with you? It can take an awful long time for them to settle down and become trusting - some never ever trust fully and who can blame them?

If she doesn't like two hands then just use one! If she was a puppy mill dog then it's probably fiar to say taht she feels more comfortable in the dark - many are kept in quite dark environments :(

She probably will become loving in her own good time but it does all take time and with some rescues a lot longer than others.

As for the housetraining, have you had her checked for UTI's? Is she peeing, pooping or both? I would just be really consistent and keep putting her out every hour or so for a toilet break - go with her and stay with her. Give treats when she does her toilets outside and also heap praise on her.

Be quiet with her and go gently and take very slow baby steps, remember, she has probably seen more horrors in those 6mths at the puppy mill than you've ever seen in your life :(

Were your other dogs mill rescues too? Mill rescues are an extremely different kettle of fish to the average rescue dog. If I can help in any way just holler!

21st November 2006, 12:23 AM
Thanks for taking on this rescue girl. As you are discovering, puppy farm dogs can have far greater issues than a lot of other rescue dogs -- not always, but many take a long time, and some never fully, recover from this experience. Most dogs do gradually recover but they need a LOT of time and patience. It's great that you have the other two dogs because most rescues of this type find it much easier to learn to relate to other dogs first and she will learn from the other two that you are OK to approach.

Please have a read through the links I have on rescue dogs and advice on owning or fostering, at the top of this rescue forum. These should greatly help.

In general -- from the sound of it, you are probably pushinbg her faster than she is ready for and expecting more normal dog behaviour than she is capable of at this time. Housetraining may be be a big challenge. And not all puppy mill dogs ever totally get housetraining. Just be kind, consistent, try to never let there be an accident by always getting her outside so that she is set up for success and rewards, never, ever failure. :) You need to train her as if she is a puppy, with no knowledge at all of going outside. As she has spent her life going in a cage she has little to no concept of keeping a den clean and this can make housetraining very hard -- just be prepared that this may be tough for you to address. Or she may just start to 'get it' and do fine. :)

Try her on a soft harness -- this is much more comfortable than trying to walk a mill dog (or any cavalier) on a collar and lead. Walking may also take a long time. There's advice in the links I think on how to get a rescue dog comfortable with a harness and lead (eg let her come and sniff them and leave them around the area she plays in so that they are not alein to her and smell 'normal' to her after a while. Let her wear just the harness while inside and without the lead being attached. After a week or so of gradually increasing the time she has it on, then try the lead for a few minutes and gradually work up). She likely doesn't really need walking, so try playing with her or just letting her play with the other dogs in the garden for the time being as you get her used to the harness and lead; and don;t try to rush her into something totally alien to her such as walks, until she trusts you and the harness/lead a bit more. :)

Check that your body language isn't scaring her. Approaching a dog and leaning over her, reaching towards her, looking directly at her are all things that dogs read as potential challenges or threats, especially for an undersocialised dog. Hands reaching toward her in her past probably meant manhandling or being hit, being thrown into different cages or into a room to be mated, never kindness. To get her used to you, use treats to reward her for coming to you, squat or kneel down, don't look directly at her, hold out treats quietly, let her come sniff at you and take the treats; don't try to reach for her or pet her, just quietly praise.

I recommend getting the manual on working with shy dogs from www.deesdogs.com too.

21st November 2006, 12:28 AM
We got Sadie on the 27th of September. She isn't peeing in the house, only pooping. She is in our kitchen during the day while we are gone. I felt this is better than a small kennel. She is kept in by two baby gates. She seems OK with it. She does not potty at all when in the kitchen, but after I let her out, she goes outside and then comes in and within 5-10 minutes, she has pooped on the carpet. I am thinking about some personalized puppy training with a behavioralist. What do think of that? She is just soooo cute, I hate to not be able to hold her and love her. I have wanted a Cavalier for ever and I felt she really needed us. My other dogs are rescues, but not from puppy mills. My lab was in a home that felt she should live in a small kennel and be shocked with a collar when she got to rowdy. When we got her, 7 years ago, at 8 months old, she would cower in the corner, but within no time, she was fine and is the best dog i have ever had. My pom was rescued from Hearts United also, but her reason for being there was because her previous owner thought she was too needy. Hello... She has a heart problem and does need some extra care. She is 8. We got her when she was 6 1/2. If I knew how to post pictures on this, I would send you a picture.

21st November 2006, 12:31 AM
You need to go out and stay out with her til she does her poops. You also need to be with her and within reaching distance so she never, ever has the opportunity to go on a carpet (this is the puppy approach -- she has too much freedom if she has the chance to go on the carpet!). I recommend buying Shirlee Kalstone's classic book on housetraining as a guide. I wouldn't really advise crate training as an approach for a dog that has spent its life so far in a cage or kennel, though. She's doing pretty well if she mostly goes outdoors. It can take just as long to housetrain an adult as a puppy -- several months of consistent work.

Also on dog/human body language see:


Be very careful in the type of behaviouralist you get -- be sure they are a rewards-based, not corrections based trainer. APDT-certified trainers almost always take a gentle rewards based approach.

21st November 2006, 01:17 AM

Excuse me for going off-topic, but did you give Sadie her name, or was that the name UHA gave her? The reason I ask is because I alerted UHA to a puppy mill auction in my area. They came and rescued 50+ dogs and posted them and a description of the auction on their website. Since I couldn't adopt one, I chose one as a "buddy" (like a sponsor) and see that she was recently adopted. I know that a few members here and on another cavalier board sponsored the other cavs from that auction. Wouldn't it be a wild coincidence if.....nah...couldn't be.

Good luck with Sadie. I'm sure she needs a lot of TLC and will be worth every bit you give her!

21st November 2006, 02:03 AM
We named her Sadie. On the HUA website, she was Sable. Her mother was Shayln and sister was Sierra. They also were adopted and both have had to have knee surgery. We adopted Sadie the day she went on the web site. I do believe that you are the wonderful women who helped save all these sweet pups.

21st November 2006, 04:08 AM
Awww...I remember that Sable/Sadie was adopted very quickly. I'm so glad to learn that she's got such a loving new family. I am Shalyn's buddy; Sadie's mom. She looked so sad in her photo, and when I read about her desperate condition, I felt compelled to help her somehow.

Thanks for giving Sadie the loving home she was meant to have. Good luck and post some pics if you get a chance.

21st November 2006, 04:18 AM
I know this has nothing to do with me but I completely got goosebumps reading about your stories. What a small world, huh? :)

21st November 2006, 09:06 AM
Me too :flwr: Glad Sadie now has a loving forever home

21st November 2006, 12:44 PM
Sounds like she's doing well already :hug: As Karlin has said, make sure she poops when you take her out and I would also reward her with a tiny treat and heaps of praise too.

I'm sure she will come to you soon, it's early days yet. One of my fosters too 5 months to actually come to us and cuddle into our legs. Eventually, after a few more weeks of putting our hand down and giving him a little rub under the chin and behind his ears, he decided taht maybe he could trust us after all and put his paws onto my lap.

As you can imagine, I sat there with tears running down my face, especially when he let me pick him up and have him sat on my knee. This led to more ear and chin rubs and eventually after a few more weeks he'd go to sleep.

He was never a cuddly dog whilst he was with us though, I think some are so traumatised by their past lives that they can never trust enough to be cuddled.

We've had Charlie for over a year now and he'd been abused in the past. when he came to us he was very skinny and had appalling skin and coat, ear mites & infection and nails that had grown into his paws. We used to get stopped an asked what sort of dog he was as he never swished his tail like a normal Cav but tucked it under himself all the time :(

Now he looks a completely different dog but all affection is on his terms and he will still not be cuddled. This is fine by me as I know that he's happy & yes, his tail is usually upright and very often swishing too :D

So, all in all, you're not alone in this and as I said before, take it baby steps and let her decide when she wants to come etc. A good kind treat based trainer would be good too, but as for the housebreaking, sounds like she's doing really well bless her.

I've just seen her on HUA too, she's gorgeous :lotsaluv:

21st November 2006, 01:47 PM
Bless you for adopting Sadie/Sable. You are doing the right thing by her just by asking for advice and help from a group such as this. Keep asking questions and reading to educate yourself and other members of your household and exercise lots of patience. I was one of Sadie's sister Sierra's buddies and would love to have adopted her but knew in my heart of hearts that right now, with work, human family and canine family committments, I do not have the time most puppy mill rescues need. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, including Sadie. Even if she may not always seem like it, you must know she is thankful to be with you. :flwr:

Phyllis in WV/USA with Buddy (Blenhein CKCS) and Hadley (Clumber Spaniel)

21st November 2006, 05:03 PM
It is so neat to read about everyone that has been on the HUA website. Well, I will tell all of you, that being at HUA on many occassions, it is the greatest place ever. We held Shalyn and Sierra. We almost left with Sadie, Shalyn and Sierra, but we live in the city limits of Lincoln and are only legally allowed 3 dogs and we already had two, so we had to choose. Shayln could not walk very well, but boy did she want to. We took all three of them out the play yard and she wanted to chase the ball soooo bad, but just couldn't. Sierra, on the other hand, was a lively, in your face, puppy, but it was Sadie/Sable that really took our hearts. She would huddle behind her mom, hoping nobody would notice her. Well, we noticed her and here we are now. We have been making small breakthroughs everyday, which is all I ask for. I was laying on the floor last night petting my lab and she came up and rolled over for a tummy rub. I rubbed and rubbed, never reallly looking at her, and then all of a sudden, she rolled over and crawled over to me on her tummy and gave me a big kiss. You have no idea how that felt, I almost cried.

Anyway, thanks for all the support, I just want her to be happy.

Lee Ann

21st November 2006, 05:34 PM
Thank you so much for sharing about all three cavs from that rescue. I literally was sick to my stomach the day of that auction. I had no idea if any of the organizations I contacted were going to show up, but I offered local help to all. Since no one responded, I thought that it just wasn't going to work out. I considered going by myself, but realized I'd be no help sitting in a barn full of dogs....bawling my eyes out.

I've gone to the website for updates, but I know that the volunteers are very busy tending to the dogs and don't have much time for extra stuff. That's why I'm so glad we "bumped into" each other.

Thank you for taking a risk on a rescue and sticking with it. I'm sure Sadie will find a way to show her appreciation somehow. Most rescues do.

Denise G.
21st November 2006, 05:34 PM
Lee Ann-

I think what you're doing with Sadie is so wonderful! What a wonderful breakthrough you're having with her--made me tear up. Give her cuddles and kisses from me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Denise G.
21st November 2006, 05:35 PM
Lee Ann-

I think what you're doing with Sadie is so wonderful! What a wonderful breakthrough you're having with her--made me tear up. Give her cuddles and kisses from me and Mia.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cathy Moon
21st November 2006, 11:45 PM
I'm wiping my eyes and blowing my nose over here in Ohio. I'm so thankful to hear about Sadie and the other two girl cavs. Bless you for giving her a loving home, and everyone who helped save these pups! :flwr:

Cathy T
22nd November 2006, 12:13 AM
Oh Lee Ann - I have thought about those girls often. When their information first came up on the site I was so saddened. Many of us became "buddies" for this organization because of their postings. My buddy is precious little Yuki. It is so wonderful to hear about them personally. How sweet that she is coming around. Definitely works best to let her come to you at her comfort level. Good job!!

For those of you who aren't aware of who these sweet babies are...here is the link to their original postings http://www.hua.org/dog-adoption4.html. Be prepared thought, their stories will break your heart but then you will cry tears of joy for them knowing they have been adopted and are being loved.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart Lee Ann! :flwr:

22nd November 2006, 02:09 PM
I am so inspired by your stories. I just applied to Foster for Lucky Star cavaliers and I am counting the days until I am able to do more than just donate. Thank you for sharing youe experiences, hopefuly in the near future I will be able to utilize what you have learned. :xfngr: :lotsaluv: