Congratulations to Austin and his new forever family – Tracey and Kevin Woodruff Brown! Austin is one handsome hound, with a beautiful blue right eye! He was one of the 5 Basset Hounds that ABC rescued and transported all the way from Boerne, Texas on New Year’s Eve. He had a cherry left eye that was surgically corrected before making his long journey North with the New Year’s Eve transport. As you will remember, the TX transport brought these Bassets from a breeder where they had little or no interaction with humans. It takes people with extraordinary patience and skill to socialize such dogs for a family environment. Austin has been a very shy and scared, but sweet two-year old. Kathy and Pete Roberts, Austin’s foster family had a week of anxiety when he got loose from their fenced yard but with lots of searching and coaxing they got him safely back again. Austin made great strides in coming out of his shell at his foster home but there was still a long way to go to get him ready for adoption.
Tracey and Kevin adopted Austin understanding his special needs and have undertaken an extraordinary program to integrate him into their ‘pack’. This would make a great guide for anyone trying to home anxious Bassets. It keys in to the dog’s natural pack instincts on his level, instead of that of humans. They spent their wedding anniversary getting their home ‘Austin ready’ – new beds, new bones, new treats, new bowls, fence “Austin proofed”… looking forward to their new addition with great excitement. When he arrived Tracey said it was love at first sight and although Austin doesn’t know it yet, he will come to love her just as much!
Tracey describes Austin’s arrival at his new home as traumatic. In their backyard he shivered and tried to hide from his new family in the tall grass. He appeared indifferent to his sister Caley’s interest in him but Tracey could see him watching her very closely. This first night Austin wouldn’t eat dinner so Tracey and Kevin bribed him with a little peanut butter on a Ritz cracker so he wouldn’t go to sleep on an empty stomach. Mostly he just seemed exhausted.
That first night they all ‘camped’ in the living room to give Austin a sense of pack security. Such a great idea! With soft classical music in the background and Febreeze Scent Story blowing flower smells over him, Austin could finally rest. Caley slept next to him, (on their new chaise-style bolster bed) all night, sweet Basset that she is. She seemed to understand Austin’s need for a friend in a strange place. Tracey watched him closely and said he slept hard for at least part of that night.
In the morning Kevin had to carry him outside, but once there he did his ‘business’ in the yard like a good boy! Tracey really wanted him to eat in the morning so, as she says, she played ‘dirty’ using bits of American cheese sprinkled over his kibble. He ate all three meals Tracey set out for him (think his fasting days are maybe over.)
The next night, while Tracey pretended to be asleep (very sneaky this Tracey) Austin sniffed her and then poked her in the eye with his nose (pretty smart these Bassets). That made Tracey blink and laugh which sent Austin back to his bed to contemplate this new development. After thinking through his Basset thoughts he finally went and got a toy and brought it back to his bed. Then he got a bone and brought it back to the bed. Chewed on the bone for five minutes. Finally, he worked up the courage to explore the house. Tracey said it took him about half an hour but he did it!
The next day in the yard with his sister, Caley, Austin actually ran over to her, wagging his tail and bowed at her in play. Sounds like small things but Tracey and Kevin appreciate each and every milestone Austin passes on his way to becoming a beloved member of their family.
Tracey posted with excitement when she took Austin a bowl of water and he thumped his tail once at her. So excited over such little things. A trainer once told me training dogs is all about drama, make big, enthusiastic gestures over the everyday little things and you’ll have a friend for life. Tracey noted, “This is NOT the dog we both saw on Sunday. Running in the yard, he actually looked different…different body language, difference face…a whole different puppy is hiding behind that fear and I saw it for 15 seconds!”
Tracey and Kevin said they had been prepared for a long haul socializing Austin. They knew it might be months or even a year before he began to interact with them. Austin is making great strides already and I’d bet that in a much shorter period than that he will be a loving, loyal family member. Tracey and Kevin are very special people indeed!
Thanks to ABC for rescuing Austin, for his patient foster folks, the Roberts’, who prepared him for his adoptive home and especially to Tracey, Kevin (and last, but certainly not least, Calliope) for going the ‘extra mile’ to ensure Austin is comfortable and happy in his new home! Please keep us updated on Austin’s progress. This is extremely useful stuff for families that are trying to home Bassets who have never been socialized to humans.
p.s. Tracey posted today, “Last night, we gave him his ‘Welcome Home Austin’ dinner. Strip steak cooked medium. I had no idea it should have been fillet medium-rare. I am surprised he managed to eat at all, but he is very polite. It must have really offended his refined palate!” Did we mention that Austin is going to also be spoiled royally!