Many people consider dogs to be more than just pets – they are part of the family. So when one couple noticed their dog exhibiting a strange behavior, they were understandably concerned.
They had gotten the dog as an adult, choosing to adopt from a shelter rather than buying a puppy from a breeder. By doing so they rescued their new four-legged family member, though at the time they did not realize just how badly the traumatized dog needed a loving new home.
Despite their best efforts to integrate their newly adopted companion into their lives, they quickly realized that something was wrong. Every single night as they prepared to go to sleep, their dog would be there staring at them. He remained sitting beside their bed as they went to sleep. Come morning, he would be in the exact same position as he was the night before. He sat there, staring, as they rose from their slumber.
They became very worried about their beloved new family member as it appeared that he was not sleeping at all. From long walks to vigorous playtime throughout the day, they did everything they could to try and tire him out in hopes he would fall asleep during the night. Nothing seemed to work. Every night he continued to sit and stare.
With their fears growing, they wisely decided to take their dog to the vet. They needed to find out if there might be a medical reason for his odd behavior. The veterinarian was unable to provide them with any answers, simply informing them that their dog was healthy. There was no physical issue that was causing the nightly behavior, so the family’s search for answers continued.
With the vet’s assurances that he was a healthy dog, the family decided to go back to the same place they had found him. They went to the shelter they had adopted the dog from and began asking questions. This time they got the answers they needed.
It turned out that the poor dog’s behavior could be explained by his traumatic history. His previous owner, who did not view him as a family member the way his new adopters did, abandoned him at the shelter. The old owner took this already upsetting experience a step further than most, leading to the dog’s strange behavior surrounding sleep. He sedated his dog one night, forcing him to sleep so that he could more easily take the dog to the shelter and leave him behind. When the sedatives wore off and the dog woke up, he was in a strange new place with his owner nowhere to be found. With nothing but the kennel walls and the barks of strange dogs to comfort him, the dog must have felt completely lost and abandoned.
His new family was devastated on their dog’s behalf when they learned of his traumatizing backstory. They knew he needed to feel safe with them, and they wanted to make sure he understood that they would never abandon him like his previous owner had. After leaving the shelter, they went back home and set up the perfect sleeping space for their dog by moving his dog bed right next to their bed. That way he could have a comfortable place to fall asleep without leaving their side.
That small change was exactly what their dog needed in order to feel comfortable in his new home. That night he slept soundly beside their bed, safe in the knowledge that he was loved by his new family.