Autumn arrived at Safe Harbor full of fear, feeling completely lost and alone, but she soon found her forever home and a brand new lease on life when she was chosen by Jenny, Brian, and Red, to join their family. Autumn has blossomed in their care, and their dedication to helping her overcome her fears and embrace the world has given this little chocolate pup a chance to shine.

Autumn’s new parents tell her story: We adopted Autumn in early October, shortly after the death of our 14-year-old rescue Lab, Delilah. Initially, we set out to find an outgoing, middle-age dog to be a companion for our 7- year-old rescue Golden Retriever, Red. That was before we saw the photo of Miss Autumn on the Safe Harbor website. Within a few days we were traveling to Alameda East pet hospital on our way to visit a 1-year-old chocolate Lab puppy. Autumn had just arrived in Colorado and had not yet lived with a foster, so little was known about this sweet little girl.

When we met Autumn she was so terrified of people she wouldn’t let anyone near her; she stood in the corner and shook with her head down and tail between her legs. Autumn was skinny, had already had puppies and also had deep slits on her ear flaps. Hesitant and unsure if we wanted “this” dog, we decided to bring Red over to see how she reacted. After watching Red, Autumn eventually let us get a little closer and even took a treat and a toy from us. We decided it was meant to be, and that Red was going to be her “big brother” and teach her how to be a silly dog.

With Red leading the way, Autumn has had a very busy fall/winter as she starts to settle into our home, develop routines and learn what it means to trust. During the past three months, Autumn has: learned to ride in a car; learned how to walk up stairs; learned how to use a dog door; learned how to “get-busy” outside; learned to love her “babies”; hiked at the ranch (including swimming in the lakes and running in the forest); played at doggie daycare; dressed up for Halloween; wrestled and played tug of war in the yard with her big brother, Red; been spoiled by grandma and grandpa; raced through the snow retrieving balls and toys; and learned just how much we love her. Even better, Autumn just graduated from basic dog obedience, even earning a trophy for the “most improved” dog in the class (we are such proud parents).

We won’t lie, this sweet little girl is a challenge, and will likely continue to be a challenge for the near future. Wild chocolate Lab puppy mixed with a very scared and hesitant dog is not an easy situation. We are still working to get her to trust people, to learn not to freak out with sudden movements and sounds, and to let her know that we will never leave her. That said, we have made tremendous strides and continue to be so thankful that she is part of our lives. It may be hard work training a rescue dog with issues, but it is the most rewarding job, and her sweet dog kisses and super snuggles make it all worth it.

Thank you so much to SHLR volunteers for bringing Autumn into our lives. Also, thank you for connecting us with Carole McMurry with Peebody Dog Training; Carole has helped us to gain the confidence and skills necessary to help train this sweet little girl. And even more, thank you for saving all of these sweet beasts and giving them an extra chance at life.