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My dog Luma is a puppy mill mama dog. She is roughly 6 years old and the only life she has known is living outside, on concrete, having litter after litter. She is also blind in one eye, most likely due to an injury per the vet. Luma spent 9 months in foster care and was adopted once then returned because the person did not know what they were getting into.

We adopted Luma 3 months ago. We knew what we were getting, we read study after study on puppymill dog recovery. We also had a nice well adjusted dog in the home for her to look to for guidance.

Progress has been painfully slow. She is just so afraid of everything and very skittish. Having our other dog Eevee seemed to help her. They started sleeping together and she followed Eevee all over the yard. Luma even started approaching us for pets when she saw Eevee getting attention.

Last month things started going downhill. Eevee passed away suddenly and Luma seems to be having trouble. She will now sometimes come up to me but will run if I move too suddenly. She has stopped approaching my husband all together. It's gotten to the point she won't go near him if I am home and now I have to go stand by the door for her to go outside. Otherwise she will not go outside for him.

On top of all that we have been grieving. But Luma is not the kind of dog you can just pick up and cry with. I find myself getting frustrated more and more with her. Her regression has been tough to deal with and overwhelming. I feel like I'm failing her.

We are working with the rescue to adopt another dog. They keep telling me how amazing I am for adopting Luma and they thought she would never be adopted. It makes me feel guilty for getting so frustrated with her. I don't feel all that amazing for adopting her. I just want her to be happy but she isn't, she's scared.

The house doesn't even feel like a dog lives there. Part of the reason we are adopting again so soon is to have another dog in the house. One that is a bit more "normal." I love dogs and I love shy dogs but she is straining my patience. I know she's trying and some things are better. She is my shadow and gets so happy when I come home, even though I cannot pet her. I love seeing her outside rolling in the grass and sniffing around. She's finally able to just be a dog.

I just want what's best for her. Hopefully as time moves forward we will started to see more progress, I just needed to get this off my chest.
 

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That's really tough. And it is really great of you to adopt her! I actually think it's a good idea to get another dog. Luma isn't going to fill that normal dog role in your life, she's probably always going to be "special" so it might take some pressure off of her if you have another dog to interact with. The other dog may also help her come out of her shell as Eevee did. Good luck.
 

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Do feel it's the wrong expectation to expect her to give to you... to fill your needs as you see your needs, need to be filled. I hope you can find fulfillment in what you give her, without expectations of receiving back. Worked with many adults that grew up and live in a kennel that had no idea what humans were for. Their life was about being in their own head day after day after day,. Hugs to you for having her, being in a position to give her the little things that mean so much to her.. maybe in time she will understand "what it is" that it even exist" about being petted, or hugged, and cuddling. My little J was rehomed to me because, it wouldn't bother me who , how she was being a kennel dog for the only 2 years of her life. She fully came around in all the little details in 3 years of being with us.. I asked nothing of her just gave what she needed. let her be apart of us on how she wanted to,
She's 9 now you'd never know where she started.

So happy Luma follows you around, loves rolling in the grass as it never gets old to her to find happiness in it. That you have seen ability open up... She gives what she can for now..... <3
 

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Max grieved when he finally figured out he was the only dog in the house too. He was actually glad when Artie went home but when he played a bit with a dog down the street he figured out he actually missed him and went down hard. I took him to the vet for blood testing as all he would do was lay in bed, allow us to take him for a walk, pee/poop outside and slowly eat. What brought him out of it was returning to his agility class and getting to visit the dog park.

I hope you find the perfect friend for your Luma, she needs one with four legs it seems.

Three months isn't that long a time, don't give up hope that she will become a good pet. We noticed Ginger's behavior changing for the better for close to a year even though she was estimated to be 5 years old when she came home to us not that she was a kennel dog. You might keep a journal on her behavior and review it monthly as sometimes change is subtle and slow to happen.
 

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Hang in there, it's only been 3 months, but there is hope. I remember when I was 11, the breeder of our Sheltie had a litter of pups and I feel in love with the smallest female. Parents said no, one dog was enough, and I cried and prayed for that dog for the next year. The breeder sold her shortly after we saw her, and found out a year later that the people she sold to had lied, and they were a puppy mill. They bred her at 6 months, abused her, it was horrible. The breeder bought her back, never told us how much she had to pay, only that it was a lot, but she didn't care, she loved her dogs like her own children, and 28 years ago the laws regarding puppy mills just weren't there. She knew how much I'd wanted her, so she gave her to me. It took us a full year to gain her trust, I spent months coaxing her out from under the kitchen table, beds, etc with bits of sausage. Once we had her trust though, she was an amazing, loving, sweetheart of a dog!

So long story short, it will take time and patience, but she could very well be the dog you want in time. In the meantime though, I think adopting a second dog is a great idea.
 

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My dog didn't wag his tail for 6 months. He didn't show me anything close to his true self for a year. Three months is nothing, even without losing her friend.

I think part of the problem is your expectations. Let them go. Luma is Luma. She'll never be anyone else. Concentrate not on what Luma needs to do or give you, but on what you can give to Luma and do for Luma. Take joy in Luma being herself, in every little victory, even if it's just not running away. Make treats rain from the sky for this little girl. Give her a treat for looking at you, for recognizing her name, for existing. Remind her every day that she is the good dog, not because she did this or that, she just is the good dog. The best dog. Because she is the best dog, the best Luma there is and ever will be.

It's tough, I know. Kabota and Luma will never be the dogs people talk about, the dogs in movies and books, the dogs people want. I firmly believe that we don't get the dog we want, we get the dog we need. Luma has something to teach you, about patience or giving or forgiveness. Learn it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you so much for the responses. We have taken in special needs dogs for a while now but Luma is the first emotional special needs dog we have had. Before we lost Eevee things seemed to be going ok, but now it seems like we are taking steps back. Somedays its so hard to be patient, but I'm trying.

I appreciate the support. I know she will never be a normal dog. At this point I don't know what dog she will end up being. I need to just accept her for who she is. I'm not giving up on her, I just need to approach things differently. I just hope she can be happy someday.

I'm also glad my thought to get another dog seems to be a good one. Not just for her, but for us. I think all of use need it. Like another poster said, to take the pressure off of Luma. We have a dog we are looking at. We have met her and she has met Luma. They got along well. Luma seems to really like her. Hopefully an adoption will work out.
 

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Physically disabled dogs can be expensive, but emotionally disabled dogs will rip out your heart. It is hard, but it's worth it.
 

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Although not exactly the same but here's my story ... maybe you can get something out of it.

We adopted Zoey as a pup 3 years ago. She is extremely friendly and loves everybody but I am her person. She is not a cuddly dog - doesn't even like being petted or belly rubs. Basically she walks away when you try to show her affection. She doesn't play with us, sometimes when I bring her to the dog park she doesn't play with them either. I spent the first 2 months of her life with us sitting on the floor trying to get her to interact with me; her idea of fun is going outside chasing rabbits and squirrels along with grabbing fallen branches and running with them (she plays chase me). After 2 months of trying all she would do is to bark at me, I would sit on the floor and she would go lay down away from me ... very frustrating.

Fast forward 3 years (today) - she is starting to "enjoy" petting - she will sit on the couch with us and allow us to pet her; she also will allow me to cuddle her a little bit. It is frustrating but when we see the joy she gets from running in the backyard or joy from other things she does - it makes us feel good. She actually hops when she runs and looks like a little deer.

As was said, it's only been 3 months - your dog will hopefully come around. I adopted a puppy with very little "baggage" and her personality is standoffish but is coming around.; with time and patience and LOVE I'm sure you will see a difference.
 

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Very sorry to hear about Eevee's passing. I don't know for sure, but I would guess that Luma is feeling bewildered and frustrated, too. Not with you at all, but with losing her new friend that started to show her a new road, along with your care and help. If it were me, yes, I would adopt another dog with a healthy-minded background to help Luma continue near where she left off. She is probably eager to continue her new path, just frustrated and heartbroken about Eevee, on top of all the bad experiences she had before she found you.

Try to keep calm. Death of a loved one takes the wind out of all of us and turns our world upside down for a while. Don't lose Luma. She doesn't want to lose you. Keep breathing and try to stay calm. You're going to be all right. Luma is going to be all right. But it's important to take it easy on her as she suffers from Eevee's loss, too, and to take it easy on yourself, too.

Don't lose Luma. Luma is confused and looking for the way out of the darkness again. Stay calm. Get some help for all involved with a new dog family member to create another good group ecology, with both people-help and doggie-help for Luma to get well.

You're going to be all right.
 

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I have had many shelties that were the same way one took 2 years and the the others were 6mos to a year it will come
but it takes time
 

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I know how you feel, HVani. As a fellow mill dog owner, I've been through my share of frustrations... But it will be so much more rewarding once she trusts you :)

She might never be "normal" but she will make a TON of progress with gentle encouragement and your support.

Hang in there! A tip that helped me through some difficult times was: focus on what your dog does WELL instead of what your dog does not do well. If she enjoys walks, make sure you squeeze in some walking time to bond. If she does well with trick training, squeeze some of that in too. Try to think of all the things that are wonderful about her, instead of focusing on the things that she has issues with.

One day you will think back and be amazed by how much progress your dog has made :)

An example would be my old foster. She was from the same mill seizure as my dog. She was older, so she had been there longer than him (and you could tell it had more of an effect on her than on my dog). She was terrified of going out on busy streets, and she would never pee while she was outside. She had a ton of potty accidents at home -- you never knew when she was going to go, and poop would fall out of her butt even at the smallest noise (from fear)... it was really hard for us. She barked her head off at any small noise as well. She would drool when she was confined to a room with you and shut down immediately. I couldn't hold her, and I couldn't approach her. I couldn't even make sudden movements around her, much like you with Luma... somehow, through all that, we discovered that she LOVES hiking in the woods. She's THE most wonderful dog when we're in nature, when it was just us and her. She had a naturally fantastic recall and she stuck close by... so we started taking her hiking every weekend. This really helped her gain a lot more confidence, and we gained so much more of her trust this way. We only had her a year... but by the end of that year, she was going on a pee pad regularly (she would never be OK with peeing outside and that's OK), she was walking down our busy streets without shutting down, she even learned sit, down, speak, leave it, stay, and come, and she let us hold her, pick her up, groom her, and we could approach her without her cowering.

So it may seem like slow progress... but trust me, you'll look back and realize Luma and you have made leaps and bounds of progress :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This is all helping me to feel so much better. My husband and I went out for drinks last night. When we came home Luma was beside herself. She was stress panting, drooling and darting around. Poor thing. I just let her work it out and she calmed down after a while. I hope she is not starting to develop separation anxiety. She's had so much change in her life and she does not handle change well.

In better news, we were approved to adopt another dog from the rescue. She comes home with us on on Monday. She is a small, confident, easy going girl. She approaches everything with joy and she just loves people and dogs. More change is coming Luma's way but hopefully it helps in the long run. I think it will really help us.
 

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This is all helping me to feel so much better. My husband and I went out for drinks last night. When we came home Luma was beside herself. She was stress panting, drooling and darting around. Poor thing. I just let her work it out and she calmed down after a while. I hope she is not starting to develop separation anxiety. She's had so much change in her life and she does not handle change well.

In better news, we were approved to adopt another dog from the rescue. She comes home with us on on Monday. She is a small, confident, easy going girl. She approaches everything with joy and she just loves people and dogs. More change is coming Luma's way but hopefully it helps in the long run. I think it will really help us.
I bet it will help. Dogs like Luma seem to do better with a calm, confident dog around to lead the way and provide emotional support. Keep us updated!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I wanted to give an update.

We adopted Rikku a week ago and have had some ups and downs. She is younger than we originally thought so she's pretty bouncy. She really wants to play with Luma and Luma has not been thrilled. Luma hates change and adjusts very slowly. Anyway I've been working with Rikku on leave it and redirecting when she tries to play with Luma. Soon she will be able to go to the dog park and daycare so she will have an outlet for her energy.

The new dog in the house has clearly changed Luma. She has been much more affectionate and approaching both my husband and I much more frequently. Yesterday she chased Rikku around the yard a little bit and jumped on her to initiate play. Rikku tried to play back and it was too much for Luma but it's an improvement.

A couple days ago I was working on down with Rikku and Luma became very interested. For the first time ever, I was able to work on teaching her to sit and she did very well. Usually she's way too nervous and hand shy to work with. I put Rikku outside so I could work with Luma one on one and she went back to being too nervous. She would only participate if I was also working with Rikku.

Lastly for the first time, Luma has started showing some interest in toys. Rikku is constantly playing with toys. Since bringing Rikku home, Luma has pushed around a ball with her nose, nosed a stuff toy around and chewed a little on a nylabone.

With Luma improving she is finally starting to form a bond with my husband. Luma is the kind of dog my husband just adores and it's been frustrating for him that she would not come near him. Now he can pet her and last night we were all downstairs. I went upstairs for a bath. Instead of following me, Luma jumped off the couch and went up to my husband who was on the computer. He was able to pick up up and she sat with him in the chair while he worked on bills.

I love seeing these improvements in her. While Rikku maybe a bit more high energy than I would have preferred she seems to be helping Luma all the same. As I said before, Luma is slow to change but I think the signs are very promising. As for me, I love having a dog in the house I can play with and take places. Rikku has given me that.
 
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