ARL’s different geographic locations helps fearful dog thrive

When fearful dog Sprinkles, a 4-year-old Australian Cattle dog came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center this past spring, her level of fear was practically paralyzing for all aspects of her life.

Because she spent the majority of her life indoors, upon arrival at ARL, she was unable to go outdoors, the shelter environment and presence of other dogs were overwhelming, and she spent her days in an office with ARL staff members working diligently to make her comfortable, gain her trust and improve her confidence.

Despite her sweet demeanor, her fearfulness was a tremendous barrier to her finding her perfect home and she remained in the care of ARL.

Geographic Advantage

ARL is blessed to have three animal care and adoption centers, spread over a large geographic area.

For Sprinkles, the hustle and bustle of Boston was clearly not for her, and the decision was made to transfer her to ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center, which could offer her a quieter environment and the slower, more relaxed pace that Cape Cod is known for.

The change of scenery was just what Sprinkles needed.

Overcoming Fear

Sprinkles enjoying the company of ARL Staff.

Within 48 hours of being transferred, Sprinkles began showing signs that she was in the right place.

While not venturing too far from her cozy dog bed that was set up in an office, Sprinkles began outwardly seeking attention from new people and showing the desire to be more outgoing, it was just going to take some time.

During her time at ARL in Brewster, she continued to take small steps, from going outside to relieve herself to spending short periods of playtime in a paddock with staff, volunteers, and even other dogs.

As she continued to make progress, after a couple of months in Brewster, Sprinkles finally met her potential new family.

The married couple visited with Sprinkles on three separate occasions, first meeting with her one-on-one, then together, making sure to go slow while making a loving connection with the fearful dog.

Going Home

Following the third visit with Sprinkles, the couple decided that the sweet 4-year-old pup had notched a special place in their hearts, and decided to adopt!

While most dogs walk out the door with their new family when leaving ARL, because Sprinkles is learning to live with her fear, saying goodbye to ARL was a special process – she was placed in a crate and carried to her new family’s vehicle, and from there, her new dog mom sat in the back seat with her for the ride home – another sign that Sprinkles had met the family she was destined for.

ARL Resources

While Sprinkles’ level of fear was extreme, ARL does routinely see animals of all types that are fearful.

ARL’s behavioral team works diligently to assess and then work with every animal in ARL’s care to help them tackle their fear and better acclimate into their new homes – however, once an animal goes home, ARL continues to be a resource.

Through occasional check-ins, dog training classes, and ARL’s free Pet Behavior Helpline, ARL can help guide pet owners through a myriad of behavioral issues and concerns.

If you have basic behavioral questions about your pet, such as excessive barking, crate training, house soiling, etc., ARL’s FREE Pet Behavior Helpline at (617) 226-5666 or email and an ARL representative will get back to you within 48 hours.