Take that Step Forward

The new Gulf Coast Humane Society Wallflower Project helps shy and special-needs dogs blossom.

By: Kaitlin Calk

When one hears the word, “wallflower,” the mind may immediately picture people standing with their backs against the wall at a school dance, timidly watching the social interactions going on all around them. While “wallflowers” would dearly like to join in on the fun that their peers are having, they tend to be too timid to take that step forward.

This kind of shy behavior can also manifest in dogs: They will shrink back into the corner of their kennel or be standoffish when meeting new people. This often prevents these dogs from being adopted. These wallflower dogs simply need a little extra time and encouragement in order to shine, and that is just one of the things that the Gulf Coast Humane Society (GCHS) is gearing its new project toward.

The GCHS Wallflower Project is designed in part to help animals that may be shy or scared, or just need help building confidence and trust in humans so that they have a higher chance of getting adopted. The wallflower room is small and quiet with up to only eight dogs at a time, allowing GCHS staff and volunteers to provide the wallflowers with quality socialization and love.

Lola is one of the biggest projects within the Wallflower Project, and she is also one of the sweetest. She was abandoned on the GCHS property inside a box that was tied together with rope. When she was pulled out of the box, it was discovered that she had a severe medical issue that required several surgeries to be corrected.

Because of her necessary extended stay in the GCHS clinic area, Lola becomes nervous in unfamiliar surroundings. She has been at GCHS for more than three years, and her timid nature prevents potential adopters from seeing her wonderful personality. Thanks to the special attention given to her because of the Wallflower Project, her confidence has reached new levels, and she is getting more attention from adopters.

Another function of the Wallflower Project is to provide specialized care to dogs who are disabled or have specific medical needs that other areas of the shelter do not have time to address. Troy is one of these dogs. He was paralyzed at a young age in a previous home following an accident in 2009, and was returned to GCHS shortly afterward. Before the implementation of this project, Troy got as much exercise and attention as staff and volunteers could provide, but he needed more. The Wallflower Project has allowed him to get a ton of exercise and love, and he even had a surprise 12th birthday party on May 23! This wonderful event brought in countless donations such as toys, food and treats.

It was truly amazing to see how happy all of the wallflower dogs were during Troy’s birthday party. Every one of these normally shy dogs was excited to meet new people and dogs, and to eat a dog-friendly Pupcake made by Pupcakes by Priscilla. Not only are the staff and volunteers of GCHS ecstatic to see all of the donations, they are also excited to see that the GCHS Wallflower Project is doing exactly what it is supposed to do: getting these wallflowers to take that step toward living a happy life.

The Gulf Coast Humane Society is the largest no-kill animal shelter in South Texas. We are located at 3118 Cabaniss Parkway, and you can contact us at 361-225-0845.

Photo courtesy of Gulf Coast Humane Society

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