Oké, this is going to be a long blog, but I find it important to tell her story properly, also for other people that have adopted dogs like these. And what you can do to help them heal and adjust 🙂
The Story of Cheyenne
Through blogging I also want to introduce you to our own animals, and how they came to be a part of our family. Animals that are no longer in this realm will also tell their stories, especially because they have such beautiful messages to share.
But today I want to start with Cheyenne. My twin soul in the shape of a dog.
Cheyenne is a refugee, an asylum seeker if you will 🙂 I think you can call ex-stray or street dogs that. They are certainly fortune seekers as they often come from circumstances that are not comparable to how we usually treat our pets and animals.
Once we had 3 lovely dogs, Elvis being my special dog, who came to me as a puppy, and also not free from damage as probably being a puppy farm dog. Later Saraja joined and Fluffy even later. Both had their own stories. They all had their own special character and traits and have learned me so much. Elvis passed away December 12th, 2012, 16,5 years of age. I knew then the other two wouldn’t have many years left, and because they were about the same age I feared they would pass away pretty soon after each other. And that happened. In 2015. In February we said goodbye to Fluffy and in August to Saraja. Now, we kind of decided not to have any dogs for a while after this trio had passed, because despite the fact we loved them to bits, old age and passing on processes come with a lot of care and grief. A dog is forever, so we adjusted our lives accordingly to give them the best life we could. That meant staying home more, not being able to let other people look after them, no holidays, and so on. So we decided to take a dog-break 🙂 We have two cats that we also love to bits, so we wouldn’t be without pets completely. But what can you do then when a dog enters your path that you just know deep down needs to be with you?
“But what can you do then when a dog enters your path that you just know deep down needs to be with you?”
Ever since I started my own business I also wanted to support charity, so I followed a few foundations and also supported them in different ways and one of them was Bennies Place. They are set on helping stray dogs on the island of Lesvos, Greece. As I use my intuition with almost everything I do, I also had this feeling with this foundation. They are really making an effort, and a difference. And in their own special way. The founder has something special too, a bond with the dogs I don’t see very often. She knows them, she reads them, and she matches the dogs to their new owners.
I shared their posts on Facebook, loved all the dogs, but we had an agreement, and besides that, our two old ladies were still there.
But then a picture was shared of a little bit of a little hairball on four legs, they called her Jenny. Jenny was an exception, but they did the mediating for this dog anyway, together with a German Foundation (where they called her Robin).
I immediately fell in love, that expression, those eyes. But no, I didn’t want to. Because I really wanted her to find her forever home I shared her picture and story many times. A slightly older dog, with 3 young puppies, found in a mountain village. I even set the intention into the universe she would find her place. And everybody was crazy about her, just like me, but nobody adopted her. What was going on?
“And everybody was crazy about her, just like me, but nobody adopted her”
Of course her forever home was with us, even the founder of Bennies knew that. But after a lot of doubt, going back and forth we decided not to do it, mainly because our old ladies were getting really old, and Fluffy even very sick. But she just wouldn’t get adopted.
Fluffy got better, she was set on being there for the opening party of my business and she did make it. And then during a tune in with her she gave us the message that it was ok to adopt Jenny. We talked about it and then contacted the founder of Bennies, and we made here very happy! Jenny would travel in March to the Netherlands and then come live with us.
Now, what exactly the meaning was of Fluffy giving us that message I never really knew, but about a week after the party Fluffy passed away. Her job was done. And just two days after she passed we got a call from Bennies that because of circumstances Jenny would be arriving earlier. Real soon actually.
Well, there we were. Filled with grief for the loss of Fluffy. Also the other animals were grieving and mourning. Would we have a place in our heart and home for her right now? And we had things planned we couldn’t cancel, so Jenny was going to stay with other people for her first week in the Netherlands. We would pick her up there. And so it went.
“Would we have a place in our heart and home for her right now?”
After the week we arrived at the cosy home of Jeanette and Ad, two amazing people who are doing a great job for Bennies, en have a lovely little family of dogs of their own. Real animal lovers as we discovered soon. When we entered the house we were greeted by all the other dogs with loads of enthousiasm, but Jenny stayed at the back a little bit. Timid. And she was really bigger than we thought! Certainly compared to the other dogs. But she was a sight, so different from any other dog we had ever seen. Those eyes. A story behind those eyes. Human almost. And Jeanette and Ad adored her, our Jenny they said. Especially Ad had already built up something with her. I felt terrible to take her, to move her again. I really hesitated, but she was meant to come with us, I just knew deep down.
The ride home was terrible, she didn’t like driving at all. I had to sit with her in the back to calm her. What were we getting ourselves into. With our 3 old dogs, things went so smooth every time. So different. We soon would discover that adopting a dog like this was a whole different story. Once we came home, meeting Saraja went fine, but she was almost blind and deaf and still in mourning over the loss of Fluffy (her guide dog) that she didn’t care very much. And that feeling was mutual. Jenny respected her, but had no further interest. But one of the cats did try to scratch her, and then we knew we had a very uncertain dog with probably a troubled past, because screaming she hid under the table.
And the next encounter wasn’t much better, running into two dogs outside. We already had seen she was a little hesitant contacting dogs outside, especially on leash. These dogs always walk off leash with their owners, mostly not a problem because they listen well to their owners, and most of the time they are very social towards other dogs. They love to play with each other. And yes, a new kid on the block, so they came to check her out. Jenny freaked out, started whining and tried to hide behind me, twisting her leash around my legs. And the two dogs saw her insecurity and fear and “attacked” her. Luckily their owners intervened, and they could call their dogs to them, but this was it for her. Dogs outside on a leash were a threat.
But soon we discovered she found everything scary and a threat, lights, cars, bikes, noises, children. Her stresslevel kept filling. In that time I went to see a lecture about fear in dogs by a behavioural specialist for dogs in this area and recognised a lot. This way I also learned about “the spider in the room” and the stress bucket.
“Everything was scary and a threat, lights, cars, bikes, sounds, children”
Now during my education I also had behaviour as topic so I did recognise her stress signals. Also in her contact with us. With putting on her harness. Giving her food. In the beginning I thought she just didn’t like the food. Until I discovered it was the bowl she had to get used to. And the place we put the bowl. So we started giving her food in her bench. And that worked, because she started eating. And when she was overwhelmed with stress she went to lay under the bed in the bedroom. I let her. Or somewhere in a corner. Or under the table. She was alert all the time. If we were to fast in our movements, if we raised our hands in a certain way, or moved our feet in a certain way, she freaked and ran away whining. What ever we tried, it didn’t work. Contact with her was challenging. Of course that was also part of the circumstances. We were still in mourning and she knew that. We even went to the beach with her to see if she liked that, but that wasn’t a smart move.
Then we decided to see if training through positive reinforcement methods could do something for her. Through a friend I met a trainer who really was one of the best in that area. And even though it was a long ride to this training facility, after a meeting to get to know her, we went into training with her. She entered the puppy class, for socialisation purposes.
“Then we decided to see if training through positive reinforcement could do something for her”
The Saturday before we would start with the training she got injured. Maybe a wrong move, maybe all the tension. I already saw she walked a little different, like something was bothering her, but now she was in real pain and could hardly walk. I aided her with natural remedies and made an appointment to see if anything was wrong in her joints, spine, ligaments, muscles. Maybe her castration had caused a block in the energy. She got bio resonance and together with cell salts and Bach flower remedies she got better soon. Phew!
Even after the first trial lesson riding in the car with her had much improved. She understood that driving wasn’t only bringing her not so fun things, but also fun things! So that was a first step. Finally! But training with her proved to be a real blessing. We saw her get better every week. And we also improved, because it was a big learning proces for us too! My husband really had no clue about training and behaviour so he learned a lot, and I could now finally put all my theoretic knowledge into practice. And contact became better. Closer. She developed into a very loving and caring dog! And then the milestones come. That she places her head on your leg for the first time. Or indicates that she needs a belly rub. Or just sitting together on the couch and just drown in each others eyes. Week after week we saw her getting more and more relaxed, and more self confident. She really transformed. She came to the bedroom at night more and more, and even on the bed every now and then!
“training proved to be a real blessing. We saw her get better every week”
And the walks became more relaxed and fun, in the park on a long leash, giving her more freedom every time, until she even walked of leash sort of. She started watching us, giving us checklooks. But still she didn’t react to her name. And was this her name? Robin, Jenny, energetically bound to the foundations, the shelters, and her past. I know through my work how these things can work energetically, so we decided to give her a new name. And we would choose together. We made up a list of names that we would call out to her and see what name she would react to. But no, not one name on the list got a reaction. Than I thought out loud, hey, Cheyenne would be nice? And then she looked up and straight at me. That was it! This was her name. And from that moment on also reacting to her name took a step forward 🙂
And so we moved on, slowly, one step at a time. She loved training, the long walks, she built up her confidence. And we were so proud of her. Reacting to sounds or other things, it improved every day. And she loved doing little trails, and think and control games, with her mind. Everything for snacks thought, toys she didn’t like. But play in itself did start emerging. Doing funny things, on the bed, on the couch, together.
“She built up her confidence, and we were so proud of her”
But one thing remained and even got worse and that was he reactiveness towards other dogs outside on a leash. Inside there weren’t many problems, but outside.
We aren’t exactly living in the best area to train on this. But we did try. And we also noticed that lots of dogs don’t speak dog language. She clearly was giving the signal to back of, stay out of her personal zone, but a lot of dogs didn’t respect that. Especially of leash in the park. And distracting her only helped this far. And wasn’t a solution. Now, we didn’t want her to be friends with every dog, but passing without her reacting through barking and being angry would be nice…..
In the meantime old Saraja got worse, and clearly wasn’t enjoying life anymore. She ignored Cheyenne and that was mutual. Every now and then they would share a cushion or a blanket, but the contact never really came. And we knew her time was coming. She wasn’t enjoying life anymore. We knew she didn’t have long left. We did go on holiday for a week with both of them, but it was during a heatwave. It was a big mistake taking Saraja on this trip, but we could see Cheyenne was enjoying the more peaceful countryside.
“One of the dogs that was around during the fire and also lost his best friends was Park”
A confusing period followed. There was a fire at one of the shelters that Bennies place supported. On of the dogs that was around during the fires and also lost his best friends was Park. I had seen Park on photo’s before, together with Theo, and thought that it might me a good idea to get a friend for Cheyenne. Maybe she would follow his example with other dogs, maybe Theo because he was very social and friendly. But with everything going on with Saraja I had put the idea aside. But Theo died in the fire. And then I thought, well maybe Park is an option. But no, we weren’t going to do that.
But because Park had been traumatised by the fire he really had to leave Greece and the foundation decided to get him over the Netherlands. And I can’t really remember how, what, who, when but suddenly we had an appointment to go and see if he would be a match for us and Cheyenne. And wow, talking about a match made in heaven. Of course some checking each other out, but no growling, no barking, nothing. With the testwalk they even went sniffing in the same direction and walked together. Wow. Cheyenne, the dog that didn’t let any other dog in her circle, walking side by side with Park. And he went home with us that day. He just jumped right into our car. As if it had always been this way. And soon after (the same day) Park became Scotty.
“Een match made in heaven”
And they are fun together, they are almost like a married couple sometimes, they make me laugh (and yes, they are mirroring us). They both thrived. Saraja indicated soon after Scotty’s arrival that she was done, that she was ready to meet all of her old friends at the rainbow bridge. We guided her on her last phase. The day of her sixteenth birthday she passed. And Scotty watched over her body after she passed. He already was showing his healing qualities then.
And that was the end of an era. I could feel it. With these two dogs I entered a new phase. We did. Cheyenne was really connecting to me deeper and deeper. She started to play. With Scotty. With ropes. Slowly. She started to enjoy walks on the beach, in the woods. Off leash. And then she has a pretty normal contact with dogs. The coming of Scotty hasn’t changed her behaviour towards dogs on leash, sadly. It even became a bit worse. Because Scotty does want contact, wants to play, and she gets jealous. Like the jealous wife hahaha, especially towards other lady dogs 😉
And I noticed that even though her reactiveness isn’t getting better, that if we are more calm about it is easier to distract her. She recovers faster and little steps forward is what we are seeing. And sometimes a few steps back, especially after busy stressful days. But there is progress, even if it is small steps.
“But there is progress, even if it is small steps”
And they are mirroring us. Both of them. Scotty is very playful and he is learning us that again. Cheyenne is very sensitive to energies and mood swings, so lots of times I know what is going on even before I am aware just looking at her behaviour. Scotty is a true healer, comforting people and other animals. Cheyenne is showing me more and more images of her past, and it’s really a pretty heavy past. She is still growing, every day. Both of them have had things with people hitting them, they react very badly to raised hand, or raised voices. Cheyenne still hides, Scotty tries to make amends. And with the cats it still is getting better, Scotty is a little bit in love with Luna, and regularly we can see the cats and dogs lying together.
We had an amazing holiday in England together, with beautiful walks and great insights. The period of new years eve was a setback, for both of them. But luckily they both recovered pretty quickly, with help of natural remedies, animal communication and more.
But yes, it is so different now. I loved our old dogs, especially Elvis rescued me when I was in a dark place, and all of them gave us valuable lessons. But for me especially the bond with Cheyenne is unique. There is a deep deep connection between us. Her seeking contact is so subtle. Sometimes a look, sometimes just her paw on my leg. Or she leans on me. Very special moments I have with her. Kisses in the morning on waking up. The bond is almost human. I am fairly certain we have spent many lives and loves together.
Above all I have learned to really have patience with these kinds of dogs. Loads of love, tender, care. Acceptance. Understanding. They are not puppies. They have seen so much. They just need someone to hold their hand in getting to trust people again. In believing they will never have to fight for their food, never will be punished for being a dog, never abandoned because their job is done. It takes time. And they deserve it. Because what you get back is so worth it. Unconditional love. Life lessons. Mirroring in every way. And just letting her be, giving her the space to heal, to find herself again. To give her room to be by herself if she needs it. Working together, not overpowering her. If there have been busy times allowing her a day to recover. Never punishing her. Never again will she be punished, kicked or beaten. That’s all behind her now.
“Just letting her be, giving her space to heal, to find herself again”
And she is still improving, every day. Playing more and more. The dark clouds are almost gone. And no expectations. It will happen. One day. And we will find a more quiet place to live. She is also giving me that. Listening to myself in that. She is giving me so many valuable lessons. I see her progress and mine as hand in hand. We are evolving together. And I love her.
Cheyenne? The best dog ever. And yes, Scotty too of course. They all are in the end 🙂
If you are interested in working with me after reading this, you can go visit this page 🙂
Looking forward to seeing why your pet is in your life and what you can do for each other 😀