Isabella’s happy tail

by | Happy Tails |

Isabella arrived at the Humane Society of Durham Region fearful of everything and everyone.  

Coming from a hoarding situation, she was fearful and anxious. With time, patience and lots of love, the animal care team helped Isabella learn to trust again to give her a chance at finding a loving forever home. 

The animal care team spent weeks working with Isabella to increase her confidence, but ultimately realized she would need additional support to come out of her shell. They decided to send Isabella to the Ontario SPCA Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre in Peterborough. 

“When she arrived she was extremely shut down,” says Kassie Dickson, Animal Behaviour Coordinator, Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre. “She was terrified and huddled in a corner.” 

The care team got to work with a desensitization and counterconditioning program to help Isabella build confidence and trust in new situations. This program targets certain stimuli to systematically change the emotional responses an animal has to things or environments. A key component of training is high value treats –  liver treats were Isabella’s favourite. 

“It was really about Isabella learning to do what other dogs do to help set her up for sucess in finding a home, says Kassie. 

Isabella was in the care of the Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre for close to four months. During that time, Kassie says they saw Isabella become more playful and get excited to see people she had formed a bond with. 

The care team knew Isabella would need a home that could offer patience and love as she adjusted to a new environment and new experiences. They found a family that was the perfect fit!  

“I took one look at her and her big brown eyes and I’m like, ‘Yep! Not a problem,’” says Debra , Isabella’s adopter. 

At first, Debra says she couldn’t even look at Isabella without the dog running to her “safe spot” in her crate. However, with patience and time, Debra began to see trust build between them.  

“Now she lets me pet her and she comes to me for love. I’ve let her do it all on her terms,” says Debra. 

Debra has another dog, a mini Australian Shepherd, who normally doesn’t associate much with other dogs. However, sheb and Isabella have become best friends – maybe because shesensed Isabella needed some extra love, Debra wonders. 

“She’ll lick Izzy and she’ll let Izzy sleep next to her on one of the big beds,” says Debra. “Izzy will sometimes play as well. She’s coming along quite well.” 

As Isabella gains confidence, Debra says she’s looking forward to seeing more of her silly and mischievous personality come out. Debra credits Isabella’s transformation to the Ontario SPCA Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre, and she’s grateful for the support she has received throughout this process. 

“The people at the SPCA are absolutely wonderful,” Debra says.“They invest their heart and soul in that place and you can tell that they are emotionally invested in these animals. They want them to succeed, and they want them to have forever homes and to be happy.” Debra. 

To learn more about the Ontario SPCA’s Provincial Rehabilitation Program, or to make a donation to change the lives of animals like Isabella, please visit 

Watch Isabella’s story!




Speaking for the ones who can’t speak for themselves

Keep up the good work speaking for the ones who can’t speak for themselves. A society who cares for their animals is a better society.  Thanks for your good work!