Max got the chance of a lifetime when his future mom made the decision to do something that she’s never done before. Before Max, she was training Dobermans from the time they were puppies to titles in obedience, agility, rally free elements, trick dog, and rally obedience. Dog training had always been a passion and the Doberman breed was the dog she loved. But, after losing her Doberman in 2016 to heart disease, she felt it was time for a change. She decided it was time to help a dog that didn’t get a great start in life. This led her to the Humane Society of Cambria County. She was introduced to Max. He was described as a ‘diamond in the ruff’ by the staff, and she could see it. Max had often been over-looked by potential adopters due to his frantic behavior. He would throw himself at those he met and was difficult to handle. He never showed signs of aggression, never attempted to bite, and did not appear temperamentally shy or fearful. His mom made several visits, introduced an impulse control game, and consulted with a trainer friend. After doing her homework and building a relationship with Max, she made the big commitment to take him home realizing that he was a sound dog who was raised poorly. Since adopting Max in February of 2017, he still struggles socially, especially with men. In her experience, Max’s mom would assume that he missed every important developmental deadline during puppy-hood and that he was not socialized properly if at all. To help socialize Max, his mom walks him through town so that alien sounds such as traffic, mowers, etc. become more familiar to him. It’s all part of the socialization process. In addition to Max’s social issues, he struggles with being physically handled. In her experience, Max’s mom would assume that as a puppy he was handled incorrectly if at all. It has taken her nearly a year just for Max to become accustomed to a basic grooming. Max now does allow his mom to bathe him, clip his nails, clean his ears, and brush him. Visiting the vet was another obstacle for Max and his mom. She is thankful for Dr. Brian Fenchak and his staff for allowing her and Max to make periodic visits to condition Max in their environment. He is rewarded with treats for his good behavior. Max’s anxiety does not stop there, he did not ride well in a vehicle. He became nervous, and felt the safest place for him was on his mom’s lap. To avoid the dangerous situation of driving with a large dog on her lap, Max’s mom has purchased him an impact crate, which he now rides in as his safe place in the car. Today, he can ride up to 30 miles in the car at a time, although he is not 100% comfortable with the ride. At first, Max displayed the frantic behavior he had at the shelter by jumping on his mom, the kitchen counters, the vehicle, etc. He preferred to play keep away with his toys. And, he could not be trusted in his fenced in yard so he was placed on a lead. Now he functions reasonably well as a companion dog, is beginning to play more of a fetch and retrieve style of play, and does not need to be placed on a lead. All of these issues that Max had could have been prevented had his original owners had the time and resources to expose him as a young puppy to veterinary visits, different people, and environments. And, in return, making these things positive and rewarding for the pup. Don’t be fooled though, Max’s mom has proved that you can teach an “old” dog new tricks, and has helped him to overcome so many obstacles in his life. Max has learned quite a few cued behaviors and has 2 novice trick titles. He attends a weekly class that is designed to help dogs learn to function in settings with new dogs and people. He visits dog friendly stores during non-busy hours to take in novel locations. He is a work in progress. Max and his mom do not have the miracle story of love at first sight and a shelter dog becoming a perfect companion within a few days of adoption. He does not have to be so frantic because reinforcement is readily available and predictable. But, most importantly, Max is enjoying more fun, freedom, and love.