Before I get into his bio details I need to impress upon everyone that we are looking for a VERY specific home for Alistair. Please read his bio in detail if interested in him. Alistair’s forever home will need experience with fearful dogs and have the patience and right environment for a dog who might take years to truly come out of his shell. Alistair is very handsome and you might look at his face and feel compelled to help, but please be honest if he is the right dog for you. If you cannot imagine owning a dog who flinches when touched, runs and hides from you when approached, and does not want to spend cuddle time with you then Alistair is not the dog for you. And that is totally fine! Alistair is safe in his foster home and we will take the time needed to find the right home for this sweet but terrified boy.
We took in Alistair as part of a larger intake of dogs from a puppy mill establishment. We were told that the dogs were St. Bernard and Poodle mixes but Alistair looks different from the rest and with his markings and personality traits we believe he is Great Pyrenees and Poodle. When taking in these dogs we were told that a 1yr old male was in need of rescue and we took him in thinking that he would be a quick turnaround; only having a year in the state of terrible neglect, he should adapt to life as a loved family pet much quicker than the others who had to suffer for much longer. But Alistair is a great example of how every dog handles things differently and a dog’s unique personality and resiliency goes a long way in determining how they recover and adapt. The dog we thought would be the first to ready for adoption is actually the last. This boy came to us the most shut down, terrified, and broken dog we have dealt with in a long time. Alistair is a sensitive soul and his time being kept in a kennel with no socialization, positive human interactions , exercise or affection has done a number on him. He has been with us just over 4mths now and only now is he starting to show some breakthroughs. We take even small moves forward as big victories.
Alistair initially determined that his foster dad would be the person he would somewhat accept in his space..he only had the option of the 2 of us, and he decided very early on that I, his foster mom, was the worst and a terrifying human being. (some would say he isnt that far off..LOL!!) But I was also the person who put him into a vehicle for his first time ever, drove him to a brand new place, put a leash and collar on him for the first time ever and then brought him into the house which were all super terrifying experiences. So even though I was the one who brought him to the start of his brand new life, I was deemed untrustworthy in his eyes and it’s taken months to get him to gradually change his opinion of me. Only now can I offer him food and he will take it, and walk him and he goes willingly. It’s really hard to not feel frustration when a dog you so want to help flees in fear when you walk into a room. But this is the reality with a dog who has never learned that people are kind. Alistair is a dog that needs his people to be super patient, and who know that he is a dog that will be a long term project, BUT, he will make strides. We can now walk Alistair on leash and no longer need to double leash, double martingale collar him. He walks with a spring in his step and seems to truly enjoy his outings. We can now feed him treats and food from our hands and show him that we offer tasty snacks! Alistair is very much a foody so the way to his heart is through his stomach! But this acceptance of food from or hands is as a result of months of tossing treats to him from across the room. Patience is key! He will now come and sit on the couch in the living room with us and sometimes will even remain there if someone walks into the room or goes to get up. We are very good at sitting like statues, not daring to sneeze or even breathe too loudly if Alistair decides he feels safe enough to join us on the couch. The joy for us of having Alistair feel safe enough to join us, and actually want to be in the room with us outweighs any need we have to move or ruin the moment in any way. This is as a result of starting out with him leashed to one of us in the home at all times, and then moving to dragging a house line around so we could collect him if we needed to get him outside , to now no longer needing to be on leash in the house at all anymore as he knows the routines of the home, he knows his safe spaces and he knows what we are wanting of him when we say “crate” or “outside” etc.
Alistair is very happy in his crate and early on he spent a lot of time there just getting settled and adjusting to the sights and sounds of a home. He still eats in his crate as this is the only way he feels calm enough to eat. But he no longer spends most of his time in it as he has discovered the joy and comfiness of the couch. He likes to spend his days lying on the couch in a back room, enjoying the comfort. He is an easy dog to live with as he asks very little of you. He wants a peaceful and quiet room to spend his time, 2 meals a day offered in his crate and then he asks to be left alone in peace to eat. He loves his outdoor time and likes to spend a lot of time in good weather just hanging out in the yard. This is where the 1yr old dog starts to peek through the fearful dog exterior. It brings us such joy to see him bouncing around, and sometimes even playing with toys. The discovery of toys is still new to Alistair and we know that someday he will be confident enough to interact with his people and toys but for now, we get stolen glances of him out in the yard tossing his toys in the air or pouncing on them when he thinks no one is looking. Alistair will need a large, securely fenced yard in his forever home, with direct access from the house. He gets such joy from being outside that we need him to have this in his forever home. He loves nothing better than to lie under a tree and watch the world spin by. He has even started to alert bark to things as he feels comfortable in his yard and has embraced it as his own.
Alistair is a low shedding dog, but as he is only part Poodle cannot be considered hypoallergenic and he may still trigger allergies in those who are very sensitive to dogs. Surprisingly he handled a bath at our place really well, and has recently even been to the groomer and handled that much better than expected as well. He will need a groomer who is very good with fearful dogs and will take their time with him and not overwhelm him.
Alistair came to us with a deformity of the tip of his lower jaw; it appears it was broken before and healed out of place. This does not cause him any issues but is just a sad reminder of his life prior to rescue. Alistair does not like to be touched or pet on his head and we wonder if this is tied in to how his jaw was broken. Alistair still flinches when we go to pet his body but he is getting better at this. Accepting affection is a foreign concept for him and he needs his people to work slowly with this and respect the fact that he will never be a cuddly dog. But the fact that he is choosing to spend his time more and more with us than away from us shows that human contact and togetherness are things that he wants, he just needs to take it slow.
Alistair ideal home will be one with direct access to a safe fenced, large yard in a quiet rural setting or very quiet neighbourhood. He is overwhelmed by a lot of traffic noises and will not enjoy busy areas where a lot of people are around him. He is fine to be crated when no one is home so anyone working away from the house would be fine for him as would someone home more as well. He is easy that way. He requires an adult only home and one where children don’t visit, or if there are occasional children visiting then Alistair will need to be in his crate and left in peace. He will not enjoy the activity and noise associated with children at all. Alistair has been fantastic with every dog in our home and all of the other fosters that have come and gone while he has been with us. We would LOVE for him to have another dog in the home to bond with and pattern off of. Alistair has shown bouts of playfulness with our dogs and he loves to follow them around the yard and tag along with whatever they are doing. He has also been great with the cats in his foster home. He is truly a gentle dog who is kind hearted. But mostly what Alistair needs is a person or people who are kind, and patient and experienced with working with dogs as shut down and fearful as he is. He has made great strides in his foster home and is ready to move on to the next stage of his life in a loving forever home. But we need it to be the perfect fit for him. Having had a dog just like Alistair in our lives for over 10 years I can attest to the fact that they do grow to trust, they do experience joy and happiness…it is just different and at a slower pace than other dogs. His people need to “get “ that and work with him and know that this is a marathon, not a sprint. His people need to be super diligent about safety and keeping him safe and know that Alistair is a flight risk and as such take measures to ensure his safety. We know that Alistair’s perfect family is out there, but for now , until that family finds him, he is happy and loved in his foster home and he knows that there’s a piece of cheese waiting for him as his reward for being brave today!