On Saturday, Your Healthy Pet on Route 25 held free behavioral consultations for its customers with a trainer from BarkBusters.
Gail Giordano thought this would be the perfect opportunity to have her newly adopted 9-month-old labrador, Harpo, evaluated because he was having a difficult time adjusting to his new life.
Giordano pulled into the parking lot of the store and attempted to coax Harpo out of the car. He was not eager to leave the secure confines of the car. Harpo always seemed to seek out small spaces such as his crate.
Giordano thought she would have enough time to grab him because he was slinking slowly toward the car door. But just as Giordano was leashing him, he slipped past and out the door. She tried to hold onto the loose fur around his neck but he managed to push through.
He ran to the ravine just behind the store. Giordano slowly walked toward him calling his name. Every time she got closer, he ran further away until he was no longer in sight. Hours of looking, even with the help of neighbors and the Novaks, owners of Your Healthy Pet turned up nothing but his leash.
The behavior Harpo exhibited that first day on the loose is extremely common for newly adopted, rescued dogs.
Was Harpo moved from foster family to foster family? Had he been abused – by a man, woman or child? Had he been on the loose for a long time and had to scrounge around for limited food and shelter? Had he been attacked by other dogs and animals?
When first adopted, dogs have extremely fragile personalities. Not only have they been traumatized by the move to their new home, many shelter dogs arrive with little or no history, making it impossible to determine what spooks them.
Often, adopters do not know if the dog has ever been in a house with a family. It is possible that rescued dogs have spent their entire lives crated, tied up or confined.
Newly adopted dogs, especially shelter dogs, have no boundaries. They have not yet learned where they can find food and shelter. They have no established safe haven, something dogs instinctively seek out.
So, when frightened or faced with a situation they do not understand, many will just choose to run, and keep on running.
It is therefore, essential for new adopters of rescued pets to be doubly diligent when taking the dog to new and strange places. An open door, even at home, during the first few weeks is an invitation to run.
Please keep a look out for Harpo.
He is a small, yellow lab wearing a collar with a red, rescue tag number. He is very submissive, does not know his name and doesn't seem to be tempted by treats.
He has been sighted a few times behind the Riverview Condos near Sand Hill Plaza. He seems to like the water that adjoins the condos and has been seen in that stream.
Newtown's Animal Control Officer Carolee Mason has set up a trap in that area.
If you see Harpo please call Giordano at 203-241-9534 or the Pound at 426-6900.