From time to time we looked at the Tierhilfe Phönix website, where we had also found Marla. Then we saw Afrodite and thought she was very sweet. As we didn’t know whether Marla would accept Afrodite, we initially offered ourselves as a foster home with the option to adopt. But let’s start from the beginning.
In April 2019 we had to have our older dog, Ophelia, put to sleep because she had a lung tumour. Our younger dog Marla, who had cared for her sick companion very movingly, missed Ophelia so much that she even refused to eat. It quickly became clear to us that we would like a second dog again, also to cope with our own grief. But it couldn’t just be a quick replacement of our Ophelia: our hearts had to be ready too. After some difficulties, we heard the good news that Afrodite could fly out on May 15th
We were very excited. She would arrive at Frankfurt airport very late at night; so we met at the airport at around midnight to greet Afrodite and Miji, a wild little creature that had travelled with her. Afterwards Afrodite took herself to the far corner of our bathroom and fell asleep there on the carpet. In the morning she still seemed very scared and she and Marla snapped at each other. Afrodite seemed so exhausted from the trip and all the excitement that she just wanted to sleep (wrapped in warm woollen blankets).The early days were not easy. It was very difficult for Afrodite, who is now called Elena, to become house trained. She defecated in the apartment up to three times a day and regularly peed on the living room carpet. Following advice from Tierhilfe Phönix I started sleeping near Elena’s basket and as soon as she stirred I took her out into the garden. After about ten nights of this it finally worked. Because shelter dogs can relieve themselves whenever they want to, they have to learn to control their sphincter muscles. It took a little longer to stop her peeing on the living room carpet and so we rolled it up whenever we went out. It really was a tough time. But Elena is such a lovely and affectionate dog and it’s a pleasure to see her develop. In the beginning she showed hardly any strong emotions and even seemed upset by Marla’s invitations to play. When we petted Marla, Elena would be jealous and often snap at her. Almost everything that could happen did happen. But now Elena eagerly wags her tail when she realises that we are going for a walk, or when we open the drawer with the treats! 🙂 Her relationship with Marla is also improving, now they tolerate each other, tear through the house together and copy each other’s behaviour, unfortunately the bad as well as the good. I wouldn’t call them “best friends” yet, but they are a little team. I think what Elena really misses is the warmth. She gets cold quickly and because she doesn’t want to go outside in the cold I made her a woollen coat, which she likes to wear. When she experienced snow for the first time she found it very interesting. In the evening she lies in her basket under a blanket and grunts contentedly, like a little piglet. When Marla saw this she wanted to sleep under the wool blanket as well. We are all looking forward to spring and warmer days. Then the dogs can go in the garden again and lie in the sun. This is the story so far of Afrodite/Elena. Of course we have long since adopted her and are not just her foster family any more. We are grateful to Corinna and her husband (from Afama Faial) , who did a lot of preparatory work by taking care of Elena in the shelter and developing her socialisation. They also told us about Elena’s history and sent photos of her siblings, all of which helps to understand such an animal better.