Dogs. He was absolutely TERRIFIED of them. I really have never seen a child more terrified of something than Lucas was of our two dogs (a beagle and yorkie). See, in Uganda, they don’t have dogs as pets, they’re actually taught to stay away from them, not touch them, don’t go near them, they’re rabid wild animals there. Most can’t afford to feed themselves, let alone a pet. To have a dog in the house, unheard of! Plus, in the orphanage Lucas was in, it was on a compound, which is means there is a gate all the way around the building and land with barbed wire at the top (for protection from groups such as the child murdering, rebel group the L.R.A, etc.) so dogs don’t just wander in there. I’m highly suspecting that Lucas has never seen a dog by the way he reacted to seeing our dogs. We knew this would be an adjustment for Lucas, we just didn’t know HOW MUCH of an “adjustment” it would be for him…and us.
Literally Lucas couldn’t be in the same room as the dogs even if they were in their cage. If they were outside and came up to the glass door, Lucas would run the other way in the house and not go near that part of the house, even when they were outside! He was just absolutely terrified. He would scream, cry, and shake and climb to the top of my head with pure terror if they were free in the house and not in their cage or outside. We felt so horrible for Lucas, we felt bad for the dogs too…it was just an incredibly difficult situation. Here we are wanting Lucas to feel as comfortable as possible, bond with us, enjoy his new home, feel comfortable in his home, and yet the dogs….and then we wanted the dogs to not be upset with Lucas, to feel comfortable around him too, Kloey & Brody are part of our family too. It was a mess for about 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, and SLOW introduction, Lucas understood they weren’t going to hurt him, but he still didn’t trust them, and wouldn’t be in the same room as them. We transitioned Lucas and the dogs by putting up a gate from the rest of the house to Lucas room. We stayed in Lucas room (his safe place when everything else is overwhelming) and shut the gate, and our sweet dogs would sit outside the gate, lay down and let Lucas poke them with toys long enough to reach them and poke through the gate. Believe it or not, this was very helpful for Lucas, by an extension of the toy he was touching them, and they would just lay there. We taught him “nice touches” through this and “nice doggie”…we did this for about a week (3 weeks into being home mind you…SLOW process I tell ya). Then, for the first time, Lucas was able to be in the same room as the dogs. He wouldn’t let them near him, and was glued to my leg, but he was IN the SAME room as them. lol. Progress.
Then, when Lucas would eat at the table, the dogs would (of course) surround the table begging for scraps of food or droppings of food from the kids, and Lucas thought this was funny! Better than being terrified! Progress!
Then…later that week….LOOK at THIS:
PROGRESS!!!! 🙂 We just kept letting Lucas get comfortable on his own terms, and one day, I caught him in the kitchen:
I can’t even tell you in this moment how it felt after WEEKS of trying to get to this moment how this felt…incredible. It’s more than just Lucas and Kloey here…it’s Lucas letting go of his fears, able to trust, able to realize that he can overcome what was terrifying for him at first to learning to move past it and embrace what’s new and scary for him, ready for new experiences, and to take on more of the world…this is HUGE.
*UPDATE* Lucas is completely and totally A-OK with the dogs, and any dog for that matter! He LOVES “doggas” as he calls them!! lol He now has no fear of dogs, and thinks they are the coolest animal! He completely amazes me everday with his heart to move past trauma. We love this little boy so incredibly much and are so proud of him.