A Jo Setback, 11-18-20

Yesterday when Jo was laying in the dog bed I hooked a leash on her collar but she just pressed herself deeper and tighter into the dog bed. When I reached in to scoop her up to let her stand she SCREAMED!!! Not just a bark – a howl, a scream, a prolonged wail. I hung on to the leash as long as I could but she headed to her hiding spot under the shelves. She was so upset she peed on the floor and at that point I let her go.

I left the building and came back 4 hours later and found her back in the dog bed. She let me unhook the leash and I sat beside her for at least 15 minutes and petted her.

One of the experts that I talked to said abused dogs need to encounter those situations that were very scary for them so they can come to the realization that they are now safe with someone they can learn to trust.

My takeaway from this terrible experience is that I tried the leash too soon – I will know when she’s ready and she’s not. I will become The Dog Whisperer to Jo.

73 thoughts on “A Jo Setback, 11-18-20

  1. Angie from Baltimore

    The horrors that she must have gone through! You are so kind and understanding she will reward you with her love when she can trust again. It definitely is her hurt that has to heal. Bless you for not giving up.

  2. Terri S

    Thank you for being the gentle, kind,caring soul for this poor abused dog. My heart just bleeds for her. God bles you

    1. Cathy D

      Oh what terror poor Jo must have been through. It moves me to tears to read this. I pray that she will heal in time. I pray that another defenseless animal does not endure the same terror. I pray for you, and thank you for not giving up on her Mary 💕

  3. Glenda

    How traumatic for both of you! What a learning process. I can’t even begin to imagine what poor Jo has been through. I know you will continue to be patient with her. Love to you both!

  4. Carolyn in Illinois

    OMG, what must this poor pup endured in her former life! So grateful she found a safe place with you.

  5. Maryjane

    That dear, dear dog – what has she been through? Have you tried singing to her often? This may take awhile but worth it. You do realize she is now your dog. Can’t put her through another change. You’ll see that wonderful dog emerge as time goes on and reap the rewards of all your love and patience. Bless you and Jo.

  6. Diana in Des Moines

    This just breaks my heart. I cannot imagine what someone must have done to her. Probably not neglected but physically abused. My prayers for both of you as you continue this journey. Bless your heart, you are a stronger woman than I. Although we did adopt our son when he was 4 and he had been abused, he was able to verbalize when he was scared and why. Not knowing is the hardest part.

    Be still and pray!

  7. Diana Schumacher

    I love the heart you have for animals. I pray that Jo comes to realize that you want nothing but to show her love and that her past treatment is nothing she deserves.

  8. Charlo

    Mary, you know what it is to be still, and you will be still with Jo and she will learn love and trust from your love and stillness. Jesus is walking with you and we are praying with you. God bless you!!!

  9. Jo in Wyoming

    Yes, it must have terrifying for both of you. I hope sitting with her is a small reassurance she will never be abused again.
    Was she checked by the vet before turned over to you? It almost sounds like she has a wound of some sort associated around her neck. Possibly in her throat that hurts, so she is protective. Just a guess, everything is a guess right now.
    Bless you, Mary

  10. Starrla

    I have been following your progress with Jo and my heart goes out to both of you. I am assuming she has been checked out by a vet. When you said she let out such sounds when you went to pick her up it sounds almost like she might be hurting. Sorry that’s the nurse in me. You have had such successes in the past Jo might just be your biggest challenge.💕 to both of you.

  11. LINDA in Alabama

    I wish that I could tell you how long it will take for Jo to become comfortable with you and others. I can tell you that we once adopted a one year old kelpie mix male. I know it took us weeks of patient love for him to be comfortable. We left him on a long leash because it was too much of an ordeal to put it back on. I did not have a separate kennel, so he stayed in the house with me all the time. He responded much better to my husband and son. However, during the day he was stuck with me, and I always fed him.

    I do understand that you are in a foster situation. I guess I just needed to share a success story with you.

    It never once occurred to us to give up on him. He eventually decided he was my dog, and was my faithful companion for 16 years.

    Praying for you.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Linda in Alabama – thanks for your story – even though this started as a foster situation, I will not give up on Jo. It might take awhile and the only way I could give her up to anyone would be another “dog whisperer”, a position I ascribe to.

  12. Diane in Maryland

    You already are the Dog Whisperer for Jo. I believe you are doing everything right. It appears this will take quite a while. So glad you were able to talk with someone knowledgeable about abused dogs. Jo obviously felt safe to come back to her bed after the experience. I think that shows progress. Jo isn’t giving up, there’s a lot she is liking. And you aren’t giving up on her either! Hugs!

  13. Mary Jane from Hudson WI

    Mary, I weep for both you and Jo. What a terrible life she must have lived. But she let you touch her to pet her, that in itself is progress isn’t it? Something I hope we all learn from our experiences of now, today, having to live indoors more and learn patience with ourselves and others. Hopefully we all become better, kinder, calmer and still. Jo is in good hands…

  14. Kay clark

    Try putting a piece of clothing you have worn in her bed

    We had a dog that was beat so she could not bark Lots of calm and love

  15. Betty Klosterman

    Patience, Mary. You can’t undo days, weeks, months or years of abuse in a couple weeks. You know Jo is safe. Jo doesn’t know that. She is going on self preservation. She is making progress when you aren’t around. And when you are around, too, just not fast enough for you. So, patience. The best is yet to come, someday.

  16. Peg

    Will she take any food or treats from your hand? We worked with a dog trainer who had us hand feed our adopted dog to teach her that she could trust the hand. We fed her each piece of dry food on an open palm. It made feeding time a little long, but it was worth it in the end.

  17. Ellie

    Thank you for being the Dog Whisperer to poor Jo. I pray she can come to accept you and the love and security you offer her. She must have suffered unimaginable treatment to react as you describe. Your patience is amazing.

  18. Jean S

    Has she been checked for internal injuries that could cause pain? Poor terrified puppy, I feel sad for her. And for you too. It’s so hard when you love animals to know they have endured such pain in their life. You’re so good for her, gently assuring her she is safe with you. Praying for you both.

  19. Sharon Lowy

    This brought tears to my eyes. Once she learns to trust you how will you ever be able to let her go? Won’t she have to go through it again?

    You are truly a whisperer. I so admire what you are doing

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sharon Lowy – I don’t know how I’ll let her go unless it’s another Dog Whisperer!

  20. Jean

    My heart. My heart is so sad reading your story. Poor little Jo dealing with her suffering. Her abuse must have been horrific! WHAT is wrong with people! Stay with it mary and Jo will learn what love is.

  21. Ann in Va.

    Thank you for being patient with Jo and loving her enough to work through this with her at her speed..
    Her situation must have been absolutely horrible.
    I’m so proud of you!!

  22. Anna M

    That makes me so sad and mad that someone could mistreat an animal so bad. Bless you for what you’re doing, Mary.

  23. Liz Schrader

    Oh Mary, I feel so bad for Jo and you. I am sure Jo will come to trust and love you. We got my dog, Dixie, at the Humane Society in Mason City. She was rescued from a “puppy mill”. She was afraid of my husband and the cane he used. Also did not like any men wearing a baseball cap. She was so skidish of everything. The first 2 1/2 years of her life must have been miserable. She is 11 now and loved very much ( and spoiled ) !

  24. Rita in Iowa

    Mary I finished reading your scare with tears in my eyes. Your just not sure what Jo is going to do and what she has been through. You are a dog saint as I would have a hard time being patient.
    Hang in there and time will heal.

    Started a project that was a kit for just 8 blocks. The fabric was precut in 2 1/2 strips and I needed to make some HST. I cut the rest of the pieces at 2 1/2 sq. I thought it was not realistic that it should piece together correctly but I was just following the pattern. Guess what it didn’t work out and I had to cut all the squares down to 2 1/4. (48). Oh well it will get sewn and be ok. Just a little more time needed then I thought.

    Be safe and still.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Rita in Iowa – we’ve all done it, Rita – gone ahead and cut only to find out we cut wrong. We are sooooo impatient!

  25. Karen

    I can’t wait every day to see how you and Jo are doing. You are so patient. I know there is a happy ending to this and each little positive thing makes my heart have hope. Why is it people have treated dogs (animals) so bad that they end up this way, when all they want to do is please us?

  26. Linda in So Cal

    Poor Jo. Just cannot believe someone would abuse her. Sounds like she took a step “sideways” rather than back. She did come out from hiding & let you pet her. Now that’s progress. Maybe you can teach her to “heel” without using a leash? Maybe leave a leash where she can play with it on her terms? So many unknowns. Hang in there….

  27. Lola

    Mary..I read and enjoy your blog regularly but have never posted. After reading this Jo post today wanted to ask if possibly Jo has suffered trauma to her neck or back area. Was she checked out by a Vet or tech at rescue? My reasoning is we rescued a small beagle who developed these issues and her reaction was similar to how Jo did with you today.
    Just a thought. Sadly abuse can come with not only mental issues but physical as well.
    You are an angel on earth to these sweet animals!!
    God bless you and poor Jo.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Lola – there is no way I can get Jo to a vet but as time goes on I may ask my vet to come here to examine her.

  28. Jan from TN

    Sorry Jo was so destructive yesterday & that she is so, so scared. She must have really been abused badly. When you are close to her, do you speak in kind of a baby-like niceties-nice voice? Dogs seem to like that & she may become used to it. You may need Cesar Chavez’s help with Jo! 🙁 Do you have his books? Maybe he’s on YouTube or somewhere where you can ask him direct questions — maybe FB or a FB group. For now, keep that 3-3-3 rule in mind. 😉

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Jan from TN – yes, the 333 rule is spot on. I have Cesar’s book that I’m reading again.

  29. Kathryn

    This is just heart breaking. How a person could torture any dog is unthinkable. Jo is so lucky to have you! I am praying for both of you.

  30. Sandi

    I haven’t written to you before but read every text you post. Poor Jo breaks my heart. Can’t understand people who can hurt animals. You are doing a fabulous job and I’m sure Jo will get much better as time goes by. Thank in there. You are an angel!!!

  31. Sandy

    Oh Mary, I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes, poor
    Jo,she has had such a hafd life. I can only hope that she comes to trust you.our love and prayers are with you, take care, best wishes from sandy

  32. Donna O

    Mary poor Jo. I pray that each day will bring more trust with you. Maybe a shirt if yours to add to her bed. I know you’ve sat near her but have you ever sat on the floor so you appeared less large (no, I’m not saying you’re large but…). I used to do lots of pet sitting & one dog wouldn’t come near me unless I was lower than her. Just a thought. Sit near her, close enough so she can touch you with her paw. Sing to her as someone suggested, play calming music (but nothing sure that will help as I once heard pets don’t respond to music) it was a quite the observation when I got lower than her. Just snigger suggestion. Bless Jo & you too Mary. She’s so sweet and what she went thru must been horrific. Or maybe she’s hurting somewhere in her body.

  33. Marion Shelton Harlan

    You have my deepest admiration for what you do for Jo. Love will bring the greatest breakthrough and you both will benefit.

  34. Marilyn Miller

    Again, may God bless you for your devotion to Jo and those that came before. I sincerely hope that, with time, she will be able to join Hazel, romp in the grove and live her eat life yet. It’s just incomprehensible to me that humans treat animals with total disregard. Abusers and negligent pet owners need to be locked up.

  35. Diane Bauer

    Poor, sweet Jo. Bless you for being her Dog Whisperer!! I wonder if you have done any sewing with her nearby—thinking she may be comforted by the rhythm of the stitching perhaps? And then I wonder about a plug in that disperses pheromones? Our vet recommended that set-up when Akira was having so much anxiety. Just possibilities.
    Be still and be patient.

  36. Jeanie S, Central Illinois

    Oh, Mary. What a big job you have ahead of you, but I know you will persevere. My concern is what several others mentioned; does Jo have untreated physical injuries in addition to her emotional trauma? I wish I could help. 🥰

  37. Carolyn Boutilier

    Mary, thank you for your kindness and patience with Jo. I appreciate the update with her. We had a cold windy day here in the Shenandoah Valley Va. Carolyn b

  38. Montana Kathy

    Poor Jo. It just breaks my heart. Hang in there Mary – you’re doing all you can and eventually Jo will come round. You are an inspiration to all of us and we’re all with you and Jo in spirit. So many loving wishes have to do do their magic and make things right. You gotta believe.

  39. Susan K in Texas

    Mary you are doing a wonderful thing to help Jo. You will be paid back tenfold. Now you know that the leash will wait until later on. She has found safe spots in her area. We’re all praying for the best for both you and Jo!

  40. Mary

    You are so compassionate and kind! There is a special place in heaven for you, not everyone can do what you are doing.

  41. Jan in NW WI

    Mary, Poor Jo has some issues and unfortunately can’t tell you what they are. You have received a lot of good advice and helpful suggestions. I too would recommend a visit from the vet. Just to rule out any physical issues and perhaps some insight. I also think sitting close enough to touch to her while talking or better yet singing would be reassuring. Might I suggest that you attach the leash while doing that, and remove it (with calm encouragement and praise) when you get up to do something else. No stress, just a leash on while receiving pets and some nice talking or singing. I know this will be a long haul but Jo obviously doesn’t trust , especially when leashes come into play. The pheromone idea may work as well, and sewing with Jo might be helpful as well (with music or a quiet tv in the background). Years and years ago, a severely damaged kitty showed up in our shed. He had 2 compound fractures , a skull injury and an eye injury and he was starving. So frightened he too would scream and thrash around in fright and do more damage to himself. Ever so slowly we put out warm food and water a few times each day and backed off, so he would come out to eat. Every day we literally inched a bit closer and moved the food a bit closer to the house. This started in September and we got him in the house in March. Every day I sat outside,(we live in NW Wisconsin) and talked and cajoled him to the food and towards the house. After some medical care and some more patience, he turned out to be one of the most loving pets we have ever had the pleasure to live with. Patience and baby steps. You can do this.

  42. Dorothy

    I don’t even want to imagine the horrors that she has gone through.God has blessed you with a kind heart. She is in the right place to get the love she needs to heal.You are truly a very special person!

  43. Sunflower from Michigan

    Oh poor Jo. She so needs your patience and love. She’ll come around with much more time. I remember when my daughter adopted her first dog, Daisy. She was so afraid of everything and especially men. If she saw a wooden spoon or pancake flipper, she just cowered with downcast eyes and would tremble. It was so sad to see. Daisy is so loved and so much better thanks to my daughters love for 7 years. So, give yourself and Jo time. You’ll be rewarded soon. Be still.

  44. Diane and Squeak

    Oh my, Mary. She screamed—just broke my heart. 😥. You are so smart and patient to know just the right things to do. Bless you and Jo. All my prayers are with you and Jo.

  45. Teresa

    Oh Mary, that just breaks my heart. What horrors poor Jo has endured. I know you’re getting advice from all directions but I’m still going to make a suggestion that you just sit with her and pet her and don’t ask her to do anything until she starts have confidence in you and actually approaches you herself looking for attention.

    We have a dog that was a puppy mill breeding bitch for four years and she is the most disturbed rescue I’ve had. Took her over a year to come out from under our kitchen table on her own, I had to pick her up and carry her outside to potty and she’d literally go where I sat her down, she was afraid of everything. We’ve had her for four years and she hates men, hates them. She bites my husband whenever he walks past her, only positive to that issue is her jaw was broken at some point so she can’t clamp down, she more nips and we just deal with that. Whatever she endured she’s never going to get over and that’s okay, she’s comfortable, clean, fed and likes to lay by me on the sofa and we just let her live her life with no pressure. Oddly though, she has no issues with the Vet, and he’s a man. She wags her tail and isn’t aggressive at the Vet at all. Go figure.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Teresa – and that’s all I’m doing – just sitting in the chair beside her dog bed. I read, I work on my IPad, talk on the phone, sometimes take a nap. I reach over to pet her all the time and sometimes I just let my hand rest on her shoulder. I never move fast and never, never raise my voice. Your dog sounds like the way Jo acts but she’s very young so I’m almost sure she’s never given birth. Her body just doesnt look like it has. No, I don’t expect one thing from her at this point. I have a long winter ahead of me so she’s on her own pace whatever hat turns out to be.

  46. Bonnie McKee

    Mary, I’ve been following your posts about Jo. When I think of the horrific past she must have had it just breaks my heart. What you are doing to help her is heartwarming and I pray God will bless your efforts. I hope over time Jo can relax and enjoy a life full of love. I’m praying for you both.
    Bonnie in Oregon

  47. Sue Davis

    Hi Mary
    First I must say Hi to my best friend Colton!
    Second, I am wondering if they told you exactly what is Jo’s background, right now I’m in my warm bed with my two cats, a standard poodle and a sitz tzu. One more standard and a husband needs a place😂
    All are safe and warm. What makes people in this world so ugly?
    Stay safe and warm this thanksgiving
    Sue Davis

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sue Davis – her past is somewhat hidden, I’m sure, by the place she lived before she came north to Iowa. No abusers is going to admit to such horrific treatment. She supposedly lived at The Farm, the home of one of the employees at the shelter. The abuse HAD to have happened there since this person says she found Jo as a small puppy in the side of the road. At this point I don’t care nor do I want to know – it’s irrelevant and I can’t imagine sending Jo off to another home after she comes around.
      I was hoping you were reading so you could see Colton – he is huge! And prefers the barn to the house. Fine with me!
      Was there any room left for husband and another dog????

  48. Sandy

    Awe I’m so sorry she is so scared. I get terribly emotional when I see dogs that are abused, all they want is love. The monsters that do these things to animals should be treated the same way. Stronger laws need to be put in place to stop the abuse and jail time for the abusers I’m so glad you’re showing her love, it will take time and God bless you.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sandy – I agree that our laws are too lax. I support a lobbyist group called Iowa Pet Alliance who works at our statehouse for tougher punishments for animal abusers. I hope I see appropriate punishment for animal abusers in my lifetime.

  49. Kim

    This is a heartbreaking process for both you and Jo, but hopefully a lifesaving process for Jo. I cried when I read this. It could be that she was beaten or choked with a leash and she has not forgotten that experience. I wish you could scoop her up and hold her, letting her feel the love and comfort to be found in being cuddled but that is a long way off. If she comes around to trusting and adjusting, you might have a permanent resident there with you. Thanks for giving her this opportunity. We adopted an abused dog, Tanna. Shortly after coming to live with us she escaped and actually returned to the residence of her abuser. We found her waiting in the driveway, the former abuser, having been evicted, had moved on and there she sat waiting in the cold. She never left our home again after that experience and lived a good life with us for many years. She never failed to show love and I swear gratitude for us as we did her. There were some behavioral issues to overcome and then we were good.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Kim – isn’t that sad that she returned to her abuser’s home? Thank Gos he wasn’t there because he would have hidden her and she’d have lived a life of abuse. Everybody’s story about abused dogs they’ve adopted are so encouraging for me. Jo will trust me in time and then yes, she will likely stay with us. I didn’t think at age 72 that I should adopt a young dog but she’s here now so if I die before she does, I hope a kind person takes her in before she has to go back to the shelter.

  50. Kathy Hanson

    What a challenge! I know you are up for it but also know how hard this is for you! Love and prayers for you and for Jo are coming your way!

  51. Patricia Pratt

    Have PATIENCE, Mary.. You will know when she’s ready… She’ll let you know. I went through something like this with a cat.. I worked a very long time to gain his trust. Now he’s my cuddler…

  52. Ruth

    Does Jo watch you as you take care of the other dogs? Do you take the other dogs to visit Jo? I just wondered. I don’t really know much about dogs. Good Luck.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Ruth – actually I take care of Hazel and Telly in the house and we all go visit Jo.

  53. Sue in Oregon

    Mary…could it be that she just reacted to having the leash put on.? We had that reaction with two of our dogs and they were normal loved and cared for older puppies. It’s just that the first time you put a leash on them, some dogs go kind of crazy. We then tried again, but first put the leash on our small dog that was very used to it. We walked him around in front of the other two. We did that a little each day and after a while, they adjusted to it. It’s quite alarming, I know, to have them react that way. We still laugh about that day because we were as startled as they were.

  54. Pam W.

    I’m very interested in finding out what pattern was used for Sally J.’s #6 flamingo table runner. Thanks so much!

  55. Sandy D’Angelo

    I have had abused rescue dogs. They take a long while to trust but the end is worth it. By the time one was sort of better I was so in love with her I kept her.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sandy D’Angelo – and I think this is what will happen with me and Jo – if I can win her over how can I bear to let her be adopted by someone who doesn’t understand what she’s been thru?

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