Sandy was a dog my grandparents adopted from the humane society many years ago. My brother and I were still kids and he was wonderful with us as he was with all the people he met. But Sandy had a past that none of us could ever know about and that past influenced what kind of pooch he would become.
He was very playful and had a good nature about him. He probably weighed all of 30 pounds, but the little dickens would regularly uproot his tether anchor, or once even pulled a long 4″ X 4″ board from the porch structure, and dragged it across the street to see the cows when he noticed they were out! He learned many words and tricks of all types. My grandmother often joked that he must have been a circus dog. He surely would have had a grand stage presence! He looked like he was smiling or laughing most of the time and loved showing off his beautiful “feathers” on his legs and tail.
One day, as my grandmother went to the pantry to get spray starch for ironing, Sandy was standing there expectantly, as it was also where she stored his treats. When she turned toward him with the spray can in her hand, he suddenly became a totally different dog! He started to bark and snarl and thankfully chose to back away rather than come at her. This may have been as a result of people in Sandy’s past either applying medication to him with a spray can, or it could have been that he was abused and someone sprayed him with something bad. My grandparents thought he had actually been an abused little guy as when they first brought him home, he was a little head shy and spooky.
My brother and I of course thought it was funny to see him react like that to something we thought was silly, and we went into the pantry for the can a couple of times after to make him do it again. Well, we were told in no uncertain terms, that what we did was a mean gesture toward Sandy, and was teasing the dog. We were to never do that to him again!
Even a dog as sweet as Sandy was, had we not been put in our places immediately about what amounted to bullying behavior, could have reached a point one day of him becoming aggressive and biting one or both of us.
Sandy had a past.
Rescued animals we take into our homes have circumstances in their pasts as well, that generally nobody is totally sure of other than neglect as a rule, or only known as a stray. There could be just such a trigger as Sandy’s that brings about a surprising result. Take the time needed to get to know your newly acquired adoptee and let them get to know and trust you as well. And no matter how kid-friendly a dog seems to be, please establish acceptable, kind behaviors for children to follow. A dog should not be expected to accept all actions kids might impose upon them. You’re only asking for a possible bite one day because of it.