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Missy Hope - Misunderstood

Missy came to us in June this year after we were contacted for help. Missy was around 7 months old and was living in a hedge in the garden.

She was rescued from her original home - found chained and starved when she was around 3-4 months old and whilst her temporary carers had gotten her to gain weight and looking healthy, they couldn't reach her mentally and training was going nowhere.

There were concerns about her behaviour, showing aggression when approached and going as far to bite the man who originally saved her.

They approached various rescues, trainers and behaviourists who all refused to work with her. They raised concerns about her biting and pegged her as "aggressive" and "potentially dangerous".

We weren't sure if we would be able to help but we travelled out to meet her at the home, hoping to get a better picture of Missy and what she needed. She really was living in a hedge - it was the place she felt safest as people couldn't reach her.

After a short session we could see her aggression was fear-based. We offered our assessment and the owners asked us to take her in.

Lyn said, 'she would cower back, the hedge was the safest place for her, she let me get a lead on but wasn't happy. Her fear was obvious and she was lashing out in order to protect herself.'

Concerns were raised by Lyn about Missy's walk and gait, she appeared lame and we were worried she may have a fracture or lasting damage. Considering the work that would need to go in to getting her to trust people, it was a big ask to get her to the vets for assessment. She had to be sedated to travel and was transported in a large travel crate to the vets in Belfast. She had x-rays and a full check up whilst there.

The vets ruled no signs of fractures or breaks although had no explanation for the lameness we had seen. With no treatment needed (at least at that time), we brought her back to the sanctuary to start her road to recovery.

Missy's first week at the sanctuary she refused to lie in the dog bed with it's layers of blankets and duvets; instead choosing the corner opposite and the concrete floor. When someone would enter, with food, water or to clean she would cower in her corner, making herself as small as she possibly could.

We worked with her slowly, gaining her trust and working the basics; getting her to come to her food, allowing human contact and eventually allowing us to attach a lead without reaction.

She began to understand her routine and grew to trust her space; she realised her bed was actually a lovely thing and the toys people donated were her favourite. She would gather up all her toys and bring them to her bed.

She was introduced to Brady, a pup we had in for rehoming. Missy began to learn from him what it was to be a dog. Soon Benji, the resident cockapoo, joined her for training sessions, being an invaluable coach to Missy, who didn't seem to know what it was to be a dog.

Soon she found her voice, and would bark at things she didn't like - like when the horses made a lot of noise next door. Then she learnt that the lead meant garden time and garden time meant friends and playtime. Over several weeks she improved her play and interactions and got chances to meet other dogs within the sanctuary.

She became curious about visitors and would watch them closely when they arrived and walked about the yard. Her next steps will be working with more people, putting her curiosity to use and gaining confidence with new people.

She's come along so much in her time with us, it's been slow going but we've found in the past with dogs with mental and physical issues that it's best to work slow and get it right the first time as the wrong moves could set them back.

Perhaps the next time we write about Missy, she will be looking for a home of her own!


Appeal for Missy

One of the things that has helped Missy relax since coming to the sanctuary and be more receptive to training and handling has been Relax and Restore dog chews. All natural chews which relax dogs and help them manage stresses.

You can help us keep stocked up on these chews (we go through approximately 1 jar per dog per month when they've just arrived and while they are going through stress). The jars costs retail £34.95 but with our charity discount we can buy them for £21.60 a jar!

Can you help us keep the cupboard stocked up - not just for Missy but for any of the dogs we take in or any dogs we have in residence who have a stressful time.


Help us to help them!

Or you can send a donation via a bank transfer to

Sort Code: 950202

Account Number: 31184288



If you want to get stuff delivered to us you can get it posted directly to Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary, 26 Crosskennan Lane, Ballynoe, Antrim, BT41 2QY

Or send us an email to to arrange a drop-off of donations!

Did you know you can send grocery deliveries to us too? Just let us know in advance, and you can do a ASDA, Tesco's, Sainsbury's Online delivery and get it dropped off at the sanctuary. We can make use of so much from your local supermarket, from fresh fruit and veg, to frozen peas and sweetcorn, fresh chicken, ham, liver, washing up powder/tablets, dish soap, bleach, disinfectant, toilet rolls, dog food, cat food, birdseed... The list could go on forever!

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