By Gabi Pasztor, AWL NSW foster carer
Luna is a three-year-old Maremma sheepdog who was at AWL NSW for over six months. According to the staff, some breeds cope a lot better than others in a shelter environment. AWL NSW has a gorgeous environment – clean, green and with big enclosures – but Luna was not one of the ones who coped well.
On the day my partner and I came to pick up Luna, she was so anxious that we couldn’t even get near her. She was gnawing at the fence and yelping at cars and trucks going past, clearly not in a state to meet new people.
The staff made an executive decision that we would need to meet Luna a few more times before she felt comfortable enough for us to take her home.
Over the next month, we visited Luna five or six times at the shelter. Eventually, she let us pat her, walk her, and feed her treats.
And then she came home with us.
Luna has been with us for almost five months now and has calmed down so much. You can see her visibly more relaxed, as a lot of the stress has finally left her body. This means that she is able to use her ‘thinking brain’ rather than her ‘danger brain’ – overall presenting as a calmer, more in-control dog. She has been able to meet new people, slowly, and is learning to trust people again. She still doesn’t like other dogs, and maybe she never will. But she is fully muzzle trained, making daily walks easier for her.
It’s been incredible watching Luna get more confident. At the start, simply being in the front yard was too much for her anxiety. Now, she goes for walks around the block more confidently.
For Luna, fostering has meant that she can get used to a home environment and routines again. We now know more about her behaviours, her dislikes, what her triggers are (and we also know that she loves BBQ chicken and raw bones!).
It’s clear that the whole rehabilitation process for some pets is a team effort. Bri and Courtney at AWL NSW gave Luna lots of love and special attention, and Foster Care Officer, Flick, helped us with behaviour management, medication and settling in.
Without a foster home, Luna would not have had this very important ‘in-between’ phase that has helped her to relax and get ready for a forever home.
Fostering has so many benefits. If AWL NSW gives pets a second chance, fostering gives them the opportunity to be the best version of themselves (some would call it living their best life!) in order to find their special human.
Thank you to Gabbi and her partner for their dedication and kindness to Luna. ♥
Read more about becoming a foster carer here.