The Story of Effie: Abby's Plan

October 30, 2013 | By Mellie Test

As I previously mentioned, Abby and Sara, Effie's Pen Pals from ACCT, recommended following something similar to the Two Week Shutdown while helping Effie and my dogs adjust to our new pack. After calling Abby in frustration (mainly with myself), I was delighted to receive an email later that evening, in which Abby had taken the time to write out a recommended plan especially for our situation.

I can't express my gratitude that she is so willing and happy to help. I am also touched by how many people love Effie enough to selflessly invest so much in her happiness.

Are you curious about the plan Abby has devised? She's given me permission to share. So read on!


Until Saturday, keep the dogs as separate as possible. If you can keep Effie from having to even interact with the other dogs, that is what I'd do. Give her time to let her get over these little spats with Ronan, decompress from the shelter, and get used to the house's schedule without also having to worry about dog interactions. I wouldn't even take Effie for a morning walk with the other dogs, even though it's gone well thus far. Let your 2 dogs have their morning walks together without this new intruder for a few days.

It takes 3 weeks for cortisol levels to come down from the shelter and it takes 48 hours for cortisol levels to return to normal after a dog fight. Although these spats were minor, I would still err on the side of caution. Effie's now had 2 minor dog fights on top of the her already high cortisol levels from the shelter, so give her a minimum of 5 days to return to a more happy place (Ronan too!).

Instead of walking, play fetch with Effie in the little yard for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. Give her an hour or so out around the house with just you and your son in the evening. Then, give Effie a yummy kong and send her to bed so you can let your two dogs out for their evening routine.


This weekend, start integrating Effie with the dog she hasn't had the fights with. Let them get comfortable together. Give Effie a game of fetch first (at the shelter, her dog interactions were much better after a game of fetch because she wasn't quite so "high" from stress). Then, take them for a 10-15 minute walk together. If that goes well, they can have a 5 minute play session together. Do this for a full week with just the older dog, and slowly increase the length of time they are allowed to play together.


After a week of her getting comfortable with the dog she hasn't had an issue with yet, I would integrate Ronan and Effie separately. Follow the same strategy as with Stucky: a game of fetch for just Effie, a short walk together with just Ronan and Effie, then 5 minutes of play time, slowly increasing the play time over a week or so. It doesn't matter if you do this in the morning or the evening; in fact, the morning might be better so that she will be nice and tired during the day.


At this point, I would work on integrating the three of them together. Throughout the entire integration process, I would never allow all 3 of them out about the house out together. Only allow the all together in the yard. When you're going back inside, take Effie inside first, put her away in the bedroom, and then bring in the other two.

For the next few weeks, you'll probably feel like you're shortchanging everyone on time, but it will be worth it. Effie mostly needs to sleep and recover from the shelter; it's definitely okay for you to spend the least amount of time with her, and focus most of your time on the other two dogs.

Check back soon to hear about our progress!

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