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The Thud Heard 'Round Wisconsin

This story starts off on July 4th, 2010. A 10 year old dog named Phatty sat in an adoption kennel at the Nebraska Humane Society. Person after person passed him by, and nobody asked to meet him. He had the trifecta curse in the shelter world: He was a black dog, he was old, and he was a pit bull. This had been going on for around two weeks and he was getting progressively more depressed and despondent. When he stopped eating, I took it upon myself to begin sneaking him into my apartment overnight to give him a break. It only took a couple nights of this before I just stopped putting him back in the adoption kennel during the day. Ten days after I started taking Phatty home, I met my husband.


Phatty


We had Phatty for seven wonderful years. He was the ring bearer at our wedding, became a therapy dog at 15 years old, and touched a lot of lives in multiple states. He was a one in a million dog, and we were utterly devastated when we had to say goodbye.


Thud the day we adopted him.


Fast forward to March of this year. We had three perfectly lovely dogs that just got out of adolescence (the crazy teenage developmental period). They didn't have to be kenneled anymore when we left the house, which was a huge win. We didn't need another dog. Cue the Nebraska Humane Society's long-term dog video on their Instagram page. I stopped my scrolling to watch (just for fun), when my heart stopped towards the end of the video. There was a dog that was the spitting image of our boy. His name was Snoopy, and he had been at the Nebraska Humane Society since September of 2023. He arrived at the shelter as a stray and there was not a whole lot of interest in him. The volunteers and staff said that while some people looked at him periodically, nobody ever came in to specifically look at him.


I showed Snoopy to my husband in passing, then we didn't talk about him again for a few days. Then I started to see other posts about Snoopy on social media and learned more about him. He was young; the shelter estimated that he was somewhere between 1-2 years old. He also had some special behavioral needs (a history of resource guarding as well as unruliness). We asked lots of questions and spoke with multiple volunteers and staff that interacted with him, especially because we weren't going to have an opportunity to meet this dog prior to potentially adopting him.


Snoopy ended up needing emergency foreign body removal surgery because he ate portions of a Kong. He recovered in a foster home, which was a bit of a blessing in disguise because we were able to learn a lot more about how he is in a home environment. He got along with the resident dog and cat, and seemed to be a happy, friendly boy. We decided to bite the bullet and adopt him.


We knew that we weren't going to keep the name Snoopy, but we didn't know at the time what the heck we were going to name this boy (picking a name is one of the hardest things for us). It was pretty apparent a couple of days in that this dog's name was THUD. He was the emotional and physical embodiment of that word!


Thud destroyed ~20 toys in the first 2 days he lived with us.


Thud has been with us two weeks now, and we have learned a variety of things about him:


  1. He is definitely a resource guarder. He will resource guard toys first and foremost, or any non-food item that he steals. He is really easy to get to redirect from whatever he has, so this makes the resource guarding very manageable. That is, until he began mouthing my hand and decided to resource guard my hand.....from me. That was a first in my career.

  2. He is ANXIOUS. He literally screams if he cannot follow us into another room or out of the house. He will also urinate if he is super duper stressed (thank goodness for wood floors and leather couches). He will mindlessly chew on/destroy items when he is amped up in almost a frantic manner. We have to watch him very carefully when he's chewing to make sure that he doesn't try to eat any of what he is destroying.

  3. He is terrified of thunderstorms.

  4. He is a bull in a china shop. He doesn't know his own size or strength, and firmly believes that he is a lap dog.

  5. My husband is his favorite person, but he is also afraid of him. Thud will growl at him if he feels that my husband is being confrontational (example: walking towards him asking if Thud wants to go potty outside). He will also pee if Thud is overwhelmed by him.


I'm not gonna lie; I definitely had many thoughts of, "Holy moly....did we make a mistake?!" I want to be transparent about what was going through our heads because it is incredibly common for families to have the same feelings about animals they have welcomed into their home, and typically feel immense guilt for having those feelings. These feelings are common and okay! It's what we do about those feelings that really make a difference.


Thud is an adolescent, which means that he is at the developmental period in his life that is most commonly surrendered to shelters/rescues. This is when he's going to have the most energy, be the most obnoxious, and have the highest potential for negative behavior problems partially due to that heightened energy level. Thud needed structure, a lot of enrichment, and a supportive, loving environment. The adjustment period for most animals when presented with major life changes is approximately 2-3 months, so time is very much against us at this point. In just two weeks though, we have seen big improvements with this boy!



Thud's first day at daycare.


He sleeps through the night with no problems, he is much less destructive/clingy, my other dogs have welcomed into the fold wholeheartedly, and he has been making new friends at daycare. While Thud is not Phatty (not by a long shot), that is actually welcome. Thud is Thud. There is only one Thud, and he has shaken up our world big time. I learn so much from all of my animals, but I have a feeling that Thud is going to be an excellent teacher. I find that personally experiencing many different personalities, sizes, and behavior concerns not only help me understand and empathize with clients more, it also helps be become a better behavior consultant.


Welcome to the family Thud.



Happy boi.

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