Shaggy dog stories: Surviving the heatwave and how sausages are proving the secret weapon to win over rescue dogs at Costa del Sol’s ADANA

SUMMER has landed on the hills, around ADANA. The streams have ceased to flow and the ground has been baked a hard, golden-brown. Not that the dogs care, many being so radiant that the sun has to wear ‘them cream’. 

Least concerned of all is mighty Zeus, who was adopted at the very end of June and will soon be off, to a new life, in Norway, with a wonderful family of humans and canines. 

The homing of Zeus (and three other big guys) at a time when adoptions have been slow, gives us hope for those they leave behind. 

Watch the moment Zeus is welcomed in his new home in the Netherlands:

Sira has been with us around eight months; a young, pretty and energetic german shepherd, who seemed to have had little, positive interaction, with either people or other dogs, prior to her arrival at ADANA.  

Following the adoptions of London and Zack, Sira has suddenly started to come out of her shell. Eager to play with the irrepressible Clancy, her remaining pen-mate, and revelling in the increased human interaction, we are seeing her bloom. 

Almost overnight, Sira has learned affection. 

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Waterbabe Sira.

Only a few weeks ago, she would strain at the lead, ignoring all directions, corrections, common sense, irritation and death-threats, uninterested in anything other than forward momentum and a little, light bullying. 

Two weeks on, we’re walking the sweetest girl, who sits for treats and cuddles, craves approval and even, smilingly deals with Clancy. At ADANA, it feels good to hope for those dogs who once seemed hopeless, and then watch them respond …and Sira is far from the best example of that. 

Joplin and Ochre are the sisters of beautiful, timid Panther. He was separated from them, shortly after their arrival, three years ago, as it was felt that he had a chance at rehabilitation, whereas they had almost none. 

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One volunteer never gave up on them. Gracie spent two years, never giving up on them until, only a few months ago, Joplin allowed Gracie to attach a lead and walk her out of the pen. For the first time in years, Joplin left the shelter. 

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Gracie walks Ochre, Joplin and Pegasus

Shortly after, she was joined by Ochre and seeing the three girls walking together became a regular occurrence. 

Through last month, Joplin and Ochre walked with at least five different volunteers. While still very anxious, they become increasingly trusting, with every step. Gracie continues to pour scorn on the word ‘impossible’. 

Such projects, while usually rather shorter, are common for ADANA volunteers, who will often work on socialising timid dogs or training ill manners out of the more confident ones. An example of the latter is beautiful Janell, a large, female mastin, with the markings of a cow and the strength of an ox. 

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Gentle giant: Janell.

I was at the shelter, when Janell was brought in. Even as I first approached her, she endeared herself by hopping excitedly, from one front paw to another, and grinning, goofily, delighted at the prospect of a new friend. Loving of affection and over-joyed to meet every dog, Janell has continued in the same manner, ever since. 

Her love and affection are the problems and the solution. If you are walking Janell and there is a dog in the vicinity, she will want to approach and befriend it, and her size and strength make it very difficult to dissuade her. As wonderful as that might be, in spirit, not every dog wants to be Janelled, all over, and she must understand that she needs to ask permission. 

One volunteer is meeting the challenge; regularly walking her and correcting her, whenever she obsesses, congratulating her with the affection she craves, whenever she exhibits desirable behaviour – and sausages… I should have mentioned that she REALLY loves sausages. 

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Scruffy rogue Wolfy Photo: Adana

This also allows us to work with Wolfy, her pen-mate, a gorgeous, scruffy mastin – belgian shepherd cross. Although, utterly adoring of human affection, the problem with Wolfy is his insecurity with other dogs. 

The process is the same… exposure to the thing that triggers the unwanted behaviour, with corrections if it occurs and affection and sausages, whenever it doesn’t. 

It’s really not magic: Mostly, it’s sausages. 

It is an approach designed to make the dogs, in ADANA’s care, more adoptable and increase the chances that we have to say goodbye to some of our favourites, as was the case with lovely Zeus. However, there is a seemingly endless conveyor of beautiful new faces, and even the occasional old friend, returning. 

Ding first arrived, last November, in a sorry state, with a misshapen hip and leg which had been broken and had set, badly. Unused to people, she would often slink away, nervously, if anyone came to her pen, although occasionally, one might see her take a short (wobbly) walk, with a favoured volunteer. 

In spring, Ding attended surgery, with the mis-set bones re-broken and pinned, so that they could mend, correctly. The operation was a success and Ding spent a happy rehabilitation with Gemma, one of ADANA’s wonderful fosterers. Now, Ding is back, and fabulous! 

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Fit as a fiddle: Ding after surgery.

A calm and gentle mastin, with a beautifully marked, brindle coat, she was always a stunning dog but now, with a little more confidence, courtesy of Gemma, and a great deal more mobility, she is shining brighter than the July sun. It is testament to her gentle nature, that she is now the pen-mate of none other than ADANA’s arch-villain, Lucky. 

As the thermometer tops out, different dogs have different strategies, to deal with it. Catch, the german shepherd, for instance, will swim in the pool, at the bottom of the hill, before partially drying himself by ramming his head between the legs of whoever happens to be walking him, having correctly identified his most convenient, local ‘towel’. 

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Firm friends: Lucky and Ian

Lucky, meanwhile, has developed Teminator II abilities, melting himself into a large, hairy puddle, before reforming, at will. So far, on every occasion, he has reformed into the same, adorable, ill-behaved, thug. 

If you would like to donate, volunteer or offer an abandoned dog a home, find more information on the ADANA facebook page HERE

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