Lily was born in central Minnesota in 2004 and is described on the breeder's paperwork as a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel crossed with a Bichon. We know the Cavalier part is correct, but the Bichon ancestry is questionable—the mix is more likely a breed that thrives on running and herding.
Lily was sold as a young puppy to a family in northern Minnesota who kept her for a year, then surrendered her to the local animal shelter after she nipped a young child who was running past her while she was on a walk.
In the shelter, Lily exhibited a shy but friendly disposition, as though she had not been well socialized. Given her good temperament, the shelter workers contacted a rescue group in the Twin Cities to see if they could place Lily. They agreed to take Lily into their adoption program and Lily was off to another new place. She was transported to the Twin Cities, examined by a vet, and placed in a foster home. Lily bonded quickly to her foster parents and the three resident dogs welcomed her to their home.
In her foster home, Lily met most new people well as long as the introduction was managed carefully and she was allowed to initiate the first contact. Once she warms up to a person, she always remembers him or her and greets the person with kisses when she sees them again.
Unfortunately, Lily did exhibit signs of aggressive behavior toward strangers outside of her foster home, particularly if people got too close when she was on walks. In an effort to improve her socialization and get over fears that must have been imprinted in Lily, her foster mom took her to many weeks of obedience training, where Lily learned commands and gained some confidence around people. It was clear that she is an exceptionally smart dog.
Lily was finally adopted into a wonderful home after eight months in her foster home, but sadly was returned in less than a week. Lily had bonded with her new owners but they felt the random aggressive behavior she was exhibiting was more than they could manage.
Lily’s fosters took Lily for a consultation with an animal behavior specialist to see if there was anything else that could be done to alter her behavior. After evaluation, an opinion was rendered that Lily should not be considered an adoptable dog. Her fosters were heartsick, knowing that to keep her themselves would mean very careful management of Lily for years to ensure she would never be put in a situation that could result in her biting someone. Euthanasia was reluctantly considered. As a last chance for Lily, her foster mom contacted HFL, where she had been a donor and sponsor of Trudy, the deaf collie.
HFL responded quickly that we had read Lily's profile and felt we could manage her behavior and provide a safe environment where Lily would be happy. So, Lily was off on yet another journey—but this was her final trip to a new home at HFL.
Lily's adjustment and introduction to staff was monitored carefully, and today she is thriving. She's very popular within her dog group, and loves to run in the fields. Ironically, one of her best buddies is Trudy, who had been sponsored by Lily's fosters! Having consistency in caregivers from the HFL staff has helped Lily gain confidence and she is loving and social with all of the staff. Lily thrives on being the center of attention, and everyone at HFL knows it!
Lily's foster parents will always miss her, but they know that HFL is providing an environment that is free from the triggers to aggressive behavior that would come up for Lily in a typical household environment. They feel very fortunate that an alternative such as HFL was available for sweet Lily, and that they can send care packages to let her know that she'll always be with them in a special way.