A German Shepherd who was abandoned at an animal shelter by his family because they were having a baby became a nervous wreck and cowered inside his kennel before being given a new lease on life.
Rocco, 3, was left at the Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center in Texas after his owners discovered they would be having a baby.
While visiting the shelter, a woman noticed Rocco who was underweight, hunched over and looking frightened inside his kennel.
The woman decided to take a short video of the timid dog and share it in hope of finding Rocco a new family as quickly as possible.
The three-year-old German Shepherd was visibly stressed out after his family abandoned him at an animal shelter because they were having a baby
Luckily, Preethi Pillaipakkam stumbled upon the video and took an interest in Rocco.
Pillaipakkam fosters dogs through DFW German Shepherd Rescue, a volunteer rescue organization that takes in stranded German Shepherds across Texas.
At first, Pillaipakkam was shocked Rocco was given up because of a new baby.
‘But once I saw how underfed he was, it did not surprise me. It is probably a combination of change in family situation, plus not [being] the best owners in the first place,’ she told The Dodo.
Preethi Pillaipakkam (pictured) rescued “Rocco” from the Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center after a video of Rocco went viral
How to identify and treat a dog with anxiety
Anxiety in dog is the result of fear, separation or aging.
According to the American Kennel Club, dog anxiety can manifest in a dog’s behavior in many ways, including:
- Defecating in the home
- Destructive behavior
Just like their human counterparts, there are treatments that can ease a dog’s stress when experiencing anxiety. Some methods are:
- Training and conditioning dogs to respond to uncomfortable stimuli with a healthy response
- Anxiety medication
- Using CBD oil
To prevent anxiety, owners can:
- Learn a dog’s body language to identify when they feel uncomfortable
- Regularly socialize them in new experiences
- Give them obedience training
- Make sure they have a decent amount of exercise and proper nutrition
- Help the dog avoid stress where possible
Pillaipakkam told The Dodo that Rocco should weigh around 85 or 90 pounds, but only weighed in at 60.
After picking Rocco up from the shelter, Pillaipakkan knew it would take days for the dog to relax.
Pillaipakkam said, ‘The shelter is certainly not the environment for a dog like Rocco. He was very timid and scared to get into the car. He even hid beneath the seat in the car. He was pacing a bit and seemed very stressed.’
The Center for Shelter Dogs says dogs become stressed in shelters because of the sudden change in environment.
Dog’s typically will become separated from their families, be confined within kennels and will experience more noise due to being so close to many other dogs.
During his first days in his new home, Rocco was nervous and walked around his new surroundings in a confused daze.
With the help of Pillaipakkam and her other German Shepherd, Katja, Rocco began to perk up by the first weekend.
‘He slowly started exploring the house,’ Pillaipakkam said. ‘He loves the couches and his doggy beds, and he really likes squeaky toys and tennis balls. He is a really good fetcher.’
Rocco became more outgoing with each passing day and has even taking to following his ‘mom’ around.
‘He was a bit aloof in the beginning,’ Pillaipakkam explained, ‘but now he follows me around like a shadow.’
Initially, Rocco was timid and nervous to during his first few days staying with Pillaipakkam and her other German Shepherd
After a few days of lightly treading his new environment, Rocco began to slowly open up and became his former self
Pillaipakkam hopes to find Rocco a forever home by mid-September
Since the viral video, Rocco has received dozens of adoption applications and his Instagram page has garnered over 6,000 followers.
Large dogs, like German Shepherds, are put into animal shelters more often and Pillaipakkam wants Rocco’s story to inspire people to adopt big dogs
‘The top reasons for large dogs to be given away typically include a change in the family situation, so this could be a move, a kid, a marriage, a divorce or any such factors,” she said.
German Shep also face breed discrimination and it is becoming increasingly hard to find safe homes for them.
Pillaipakkam hopes to find Rocco his forever in the next few months.
‘Ideally, we would like to see Rocco placed in a new home around mid-September. We wanted to give him at least a week or two [here first] to ensure he feels safe,’ Pillaipakkam said
According to the American Kennel Club, dog anxiety can manifest in a dog’s behavior in many ways, including aggression, pacing, excessive barking and even drooling.
Dogs with anxiety should visit their veterinarian to discuss next steps. Some common treatment is teaching your dog healthy responses to uncomfortable situations, using CBD oil to calm them down and prescribed anxiety medication.
Some ways to prevent dogs from experiencing debilitating anxiety is enforcing socialization with new experiences, learning your dog’s body language and giving your dog proper nutrients.