Most dogs are generally friendly and loving pets. Unfortunately, those with a problematic history may have behavior issues and cause harm to others. While some may write off the worst of such cases, an animal behaviorist may be able to do wonders with a distressed dog. In the case of Logan, the intervention not only saved the dog’s life – it transformed him from a biter to an amiable and endearing pet.
Logan is proof that with love and care, even the most traumatized dog can learn to be happy, playful, and affectionate again. In 2019, the county forced the 8-pound bichon frise’s former owners to surrender the dog, along with a handful of other pups, to a Southern California shelter. The bichon frise is characterized as a cheerful, loving, mischievous, and enthusiastic small dog breed. It can actually look like a child’s toy, with its black eyes and fluffy white coat.
After years of mistreatment, however, Logan was far from the typical bichon frise. The poor dog’s fur was so matted and filthy that he was mistakenly listed as female in his intake paperwork.
At the shelter, Logan displayed difficult behavior, to the point of biting the shelter employees. The situation was so dire that the 5-year-old dog was given just two hours to be pulled from the shelter. If not, he would be euthanized. Fortunately, the nonprofit Bichon Rescue Brigade (BRB) stepped in just in time to rescue the troubled dog.
Months of intensive veterinary care and time with an animal behaviorist would follow, which would then convert the once ferocious dog into a gentle adoring pet, capable of integration into a forever home.
Lisa Burgett, vice president of BRB, recalled, “He was in just horrific condition. He had chronic skin issues when we got him. His eyes were inflamed. He had a bunch of yeast in his ear. He had foxtails, tapeworms — his nails didn’t look like they’d ever been trimmed. He wouldn’t eat. He definitely needed to be socialized and seemed almost feral.”
At Bichon Rescue Brigade, Logan received customized training under the care of animal behaviorist Jesse R. Booker. There were plenty of challenges throughout the training period. After staying at a veterinary hospital for two months, Logan lived with a foster family, where he bit the foster, as well as her nephew and her mother. He also exhibited food aggression, and would lunge at the family dog.
BRB then sent him to a training facility. There, Logan shut down, and wouldn’t leave his kennel. It would take four months of one-on-one work with Booker, the animal behaviorist, to finally change Logan. Booker shared, “I allowed him to first decompress and then learn to trust me in his own time. He was a biter and guarded his food, so I had to take things slowly. It’s important to let the dog lead the way.”
The animal behaviorist considered long, purposeful walks as the key to getting through to Logan. This way, the dog learned he was safe, and had no need to resort to menacing behavior to protect himself, or secure his food. This behavior was a necessary survival tool in his previous life, which was likely a backyard breeding or hoarding situation.
Under Booker’s supervision, Logan became more adjusted and trusting of others. His transformation became apparent in a session with professional photographer Lori Fusaro, who photographs adoptable dogs for rescue organizations. At first, she thought that Logan was “very standoffish.” But after following directions from the animal behaviorist, Lori said that the dog “just started wiggling and dancing.”
“I’m not sure why he decided that he liked me so much, but it made me happy,” Lori said. “When I took him to the studio for his photos, it was a joy to see him act like a dog. I knew his background, and to see him play with toys and run around was really amazing.”
It seemed that Logan was finally ready to be with someone who could continue to nurture his adjustment to a normal happy life. His perfect match came in the person of Erica Ryan, 42, of Orange County.
Ryan had just recently lost Henry, a beloved poodle mix who had died suddenly, leaving her heartbroken. Hearing about Logan and his history, she expressed a willingness to adopt the dog, hoping that they could “rescue each other.”
And they did. Ryan said, “Logan is the most cuddly dog I’ve ever had. He just wants to be by my side, curled up next to me, wherever I am. It’s really cute. He’s a little love.” The two shared an immediate bond. “I knew within two days that I was going to end up adopting him. There was no way that this little love was going to go back in the system.”
Logan enjoys walks with his Ryan and runs around the apartment with a toy in his mouth. Seeing him now, no one would even think that Logan was almost euthanized and needed the help of an animal behaviorist.
“Now he realizes he doesn’t have to fight off other dogs for food. He gets the whole space to himself: All the toys are his. All the beds and laps that he can find are his,” Ryan said. “It’s really exciting to see him explore everything life has to offer.”
This story first appeared on TODAY.