The Elsie Diaries

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

If you’re new here, welcome! The Elsie diaries is dedicated to my foster dog, Elsie, who moved in with us quite unexpectedly on Friday 13th November 2020.

Elsie was adopted from The Pack Project, and aged just 4 months was transported from Romania to the UK to start a lovely life with her new family in South-East London. It was clear from our first interaction that Elsie had a huge number of anxieties and behavioural concerns, and though her family were fully committed to working with her, as time went on those concerns didn’t improve and it was agreed that the home wasn’t the right fit for her and she needed urgent rehoming.

Though wholly impractical to have three dogs in a tiny South-East London flat we have made it work. Elsie has put my skills and knowledge to the test on a daily basis and I am so incredibly proud of how far she has come. She is a truly wonderful dog with a loaded armoury of coping mechanisms for her anxieties, and solid communications and reactions. She’s a fantastic example of how you can work with the most reactive of dogs using positive reinforcement techniques to get the very best outcome.

I kept a diary of her first couple of weeks with us, and though this is just a snapshot it's what life with a fragile rescue looked like:

Week 1

Friday 13th Nov

2:30pm collected from the family. Pleased to see me, wiggly bum, listening. Nervous in the car, only her second car journey since adoption. Did a wee on the back seat and cried, ALOT! She wouldn't get out of the car until I brought The Beags out to see her which encouraged her to follow them into the front garden. The Beags were already known to her as I'd been taking them on our training walks previously. Took about 20 minutes to get her through the front door from the front garden.. Gave her free roam of the flat and she chose the back garden as her safe space. Spent many hours out there even when it got very dark. Refused ALL foods. Did not take her fluoxetine. Slept in the lounge on the rug alone, Beags came to bed with me.

Saturday 14th Nov

She was at the bedroom doorway to greet me upon waking, the baby gate was closed so she could see us but not come in.

Refused breakfast: Butternut Box, metal bowl, placed on rug.