|Rescued Briards From the Past - page 4
|Ginger was my 1st rescue Briard. I have learned a great deal since her arrival in my home. Much of what I have learned about rescues
and its problems is due to Ginger and the problems she brought with her.
Ginger belonged to a younger woman with 2 pre-school age girls and a husband who traveled for a living. She was never socialized but
none the less was allowed to run loose in her neighborhood, a neighborhood that had no leash laws. She was extremely close to the
woman who owned her but was not attached to the remainder of the family who tolerated her at best.
This young woman passed away leaving her husband with 2 young girls to raise and a job that required him to be away from home for
multiple days a week. After much trial and tribulation he found and hired a nanny who he was comfortable and happy with. His girls
seemed to be making the transition well. The problem was the nanny and the dog did not get on.
Forced to make the choice between a dog and his children’s care, poor Ginger was found a home. This home was a dog house where
she was tied all day and every day. It was in between 2 riding stables that rented horses by the hour. Well meaning people would see
her tied and obviously miserable and attempt to comfort her. Ginger had never had any training or socialization. She had gone from
being a pampered and some what spoiled house pet to being tied out in a public place without the means to cope with all the strange
people, and, she had suddenly lost the only person she knew how to relate to.
Ginger began biting people and was well on her way to becoming a truly dangerous dog. Luckily for Ginger her family reclaimed her and
called Briard Rescue.
Jack contacted me and I immediately made arrangements to pick her up at a half way point between my home and her current address.
A Mc Donald’s parking lot was our place to meet. Ginger’s “Dad” brought her out of the car with great trepidation and was obviously
concerned about something. I got a shortened and sweetened story of her recent history. Loaded her into the car without trouble, much
to the surprise of her “Dad”, and headed home.
She hated to ride and was extremely scared. She had no skills of the social nature with humans or other dogs. This was a problem
since I had 1 adult male Briard and was responsible for the care of my daughter’s female Aussie while she was away at college. After
an altercation that left no one injured it was clear I could not allow Ginger to interact with my dogs.
So thinking of solutions to allow Ginger company and visual stimulation in the hopes I could begin to educate her and make her more
comfortable with the plan to eventually introduce her to my 2 dogs and allow her house privileges we set her up in the office behind an
ex-pen blocking the door. This room allowed her to see into the living room, kitchen and hallway. My male Briard would attempt to visit at
the barrier and invite Ginger out to play. Finally after weeks of this she began to relax around him and did succeed in learning how to play
with my boy as well as my daughters Aussie.
Even though Ginger had been shaved down 2 months before she arrived in my care she was matted to her skin. Any attempts to groom
her, threw her into a panic and she would attempt to bite the brush or any grooming tool brought into contact with her body. This included
hand held scissors.
Over the next month I slowly gained her trust with grooming tools. It was slow tedious going but eventually she learned that these
objects were not a source of pain. She learned it was nice to have the food filled mats cut off of her beard. She had been raised and
maintained entirely on cheap canned grocery store dog food. Months of gooey dried residue were clumped into her face. She was filthy
from being tired out at the stable. As I slowly reclaimed her cleanliness and gained her trust she learned grooming was a pleasant and
We worked on riding in the car, going to the vets, meeting people. She even attended handling class with me were I trained my Briard.
We took walks in the neighborhood with my male acting as a stable pony to teach her life was not filled full of terrible horrors waiting
around every corner.
Ginger stayed with me for about 8 weeks beginning to learn how to cope with the challenges her previous life had not allowed her to
experience. I believe her problems began at her breeders and were never addressed by her 1st family. Her 1st family were very clearly
not educated dog people and had acquired a problem they did not have the skills to take on. They did not attempt to learn those skills.
Even though she was a fear biter she was allowed to be off lease in a residential suburban neighborhood.
I believed at that time that Ginger might make it in a loving home with people who were willing to work around her issues while
attempting to improve her behavior. Signed, Karen Westerholm
More of her story follows a detailed letter from her adoptive family:
|Ginger was placed with her adoptive family in 1992 at the age of 2 years. Ginger passed away in March of
2003 at the age of 13, after living out a wonderful life with the adoptive family that adored her. Below are
some recent comments from her owner:
|She was always happiest being a home body, and was, in truth, a project, but folks who met her in the
2nd half of her life never saw her more fearful and surly side! We were so proud of her when her
Christmas photo graced the back cover of the Briard Monthly Journal in the mid-90s.
We did our best to give her a good life and do what we thought best for her. Her shining moment was
The Parade of Rescues at the National Specialty in Ohio, (photo below). She always hated car rides (we
didn't do right by her by not fighting that battle, but she wore us down; I still feel guilty that we never
got her over that), but drove across country several times and at the last minute we decided to take her
to Ohio. She loved it! For such a shy girl she knew that she was in the spotlight and loved it. She quickly
figured out how to work the crowd and after her minutes in the spotlight she wandered about charming
folks and begging for the treats she learned everyone had in their right pocket!
We still miss her. She matured into a wonderful lady.
Still thanking you for Ginger.
|Ginger & Rosebud
at the beach
|December 13, 1994
A few weeks ago we brought Ginger home from the kennel where we had to leave her for a few days. We kept joking that we'd brought
home the wrong Briard, she had changed so much. Of course, that was not the case, but rather the separation gave us a fresh view of
the cumulative effect of small incremental changes. It occurred to us that you would be interested in her progress.
Ginny is a much different dog from the one we brought home from Hartford two years ago. Then, she was afraid of everything when we
went on a walk. We had to introduce her to the switch boxes for underground utilities and even fire hydrants by making a game of
approaching them. Today she confidently leads us through the neighborhood with her tail carried high, while she sniffs everything along
When she first came to live with us, we had to be careful that she didn't bite us when we'd try to be affectionate with her. Now she loves
to cuddle, snuggle and hug. She's playful, affectionate and a real joy. She loves to play with her ball and lie by Frank's feet, in front of the
fireplace while they watch a football game. Every morning when the alarm goes off she's waiting on the foot of the bed for cuddle time.
I'd be lying if I said she is the perfect Briard, though. We still are watchful for her inappropriate fear responses. Only recently did we
realize that fear is probably why she tries to lunge at trucks and buses, for example. We found that when we calmly explained that it was
just a big ol' truck she merely watched it go by - - warily, but she just watched. Or course, she doesn't know exactly what the words
mean, but she must understand the explanatory tone of voice. We also are careful around strangers and especially children. I wish I
could say that the submissive peeing is history. Fortunately, it's a rare occurrence and more associated with excitement than
submission. For example, my job took me far away from home last Spring while Ginny and Frank will still be in Minnesota a bit longer.
Frank had to do some travelling, so Ginny came to stay with me for a few weeks. Every day when I came home from work Ginny happily
greeted me with a puddle. When I go home to Minnesota - - we have her greet me in the driveway ! She has no comprehension of the
words "No" or "Bad Dog". They just don't work with her. Rather, when she's misbehaving we distract her then reward desired behavior.
Our "rescued" Briard has been a challenge, but we've relished it. Much patience and lots and lots of love have allowed her become a
wonderful companion whom we love dearly. I keep telling Frank that I need another Briard with me when I'm away at work, but he
suggests that rather than have two large dogs, Ginny should just come for another visit !
Ginny recently posed with Santa. We thought you might appreciate a photo of our
happily rescued Briard. She didn't even bite Santa, but left a few stains on the
Pet Food Outlet's carpet !
Wishing you a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year,
(This photo appeared on back cover of the Nov. 1996 Briard Monthly Journal )