Adopting a skittish & fearful dog – Mayo

Around November 2019, we felt ready for a new addition to our family. Being first-time owners, we had a lengthy discussion and started doing our homework on costs, training and responsibilities, pros/cons of adopting vs buying and etc. It was then we started scrolling through the websites of various shelters and that’s where we came across Mayo’s profile on Save our Street Dogs (SOSD). To be completely honest, we were still in the initial phases of looking around.. And so we decided to join SOSD’s bi-monthly shelter tour to learn more about the street dogs and the work they do. 

The first time we saw Mayo in the shelter

We managed to spot Mayo among the rows and rows of kennels and even in real life she captured our hearts with her gentleness – a stark contrast to the crazy intense barking and jumping up and down going on in around stressful shelter environment. Long story short, we went down for the next 7 weeks to interact with her and learn more about her before deciding to bring her home on 1st Feb 2020.

Mayo when it was time to go for walks in the shelter
Trying to take Mayo out for a walk on Day 2.

Despite knowing that she was fearful on walks (and pretty much all the time, and of all things hahaha), we still took her for a home trial thinking that the home environment would be better for her. We were NOT prepared for what was to come.. oppps! The first few days were the toughest – she wouldn’t walk and we couldn’t leash her. She howled and cried in the middle of the night and held her pee and poop for hours. And the moment the leash went on with the slightest tug to get her moving, she would pee and shit all over the house on the way out. Our walks were literally 5 mins a day.  At one point it was a 2 man job just to get her out of the house – one of us had to hold on to a crate to lure her to walk, while the other one held on to her leash. We tried allowing her to pee/poop indoors but she did not take to that either. We had a hard conversation and decided that we might not be able to keep her if it was a 2 man job just to get her out to do her business everyday. 

Thank the heavens though! We decided to try our best before the end of the trial and reached out to @dawkstar for help. Within 5 mins of their assessment, Mayo suddenly??? suddenly??? walked on the leash with the help of another lead dog. Hooray! Back at home everyday was a slow improvement and today we are happy to report she walks to the door confidently to get leashed. Despite the odds that were still stacked against us, we adopted her officially on 14th February 2020. It would have been cruel to send her back to an environment she was clearly stressed out in after merely seeing her walk.

Well, it has been almost 7 months since Mayo came into our lives. Unfortunately, for the first 5 months at home, Mayo was perpetually stuck on her bed. She wouldn’t move from her bed unless it was walk time or eat time. We hand-fed her every meal in hopes of building a relationship quicker; we sat next to her everyday for a few minutes just to get her familiar with us. If you ask me, she was not a dog. It is also one of the most painful feelings to see a dog constantly in a state of fear, anxiety & insecurity. She had toys to play with! She had yummy treats to eat! She had a shelter over her head and a nice comfortable bed to sleep on at night. We even put in the work everyday to help condition her, interact with her and try to help her. But she didn’t know how to enjoy the new life she had and emotionally it was so so so tough on us. Of course we wanted to enjoy her – that’s why we all get a dog right? Companionship? Friendship? We longed to hug her, pet her, play with her, take her out to the beach, meet our friends and family – but couldn’t. Some days (even till now), we wonder if she will ever come of her shell and be a normal dog that knows how to enjoy affection, play, have fun and be freed from her fearful and anxious state of mind. But! She has come very far. In the last 2 months, we’ve seen her coming up to us to ‘kaypoh’ when there’s food on the table. And just last week, she’s started to feel confident enough to vocalize and make her little barks heard! She has also been enjoying occasional head rubs when she’s in the mood and getting more confident walking around the house in our presence. We’ve even had a nice cafe dinner with a fellow dog-owner on Friday 🙂 For a dog who’s been literally a piece of furniture in the house, watching her leave her bed for whatever reason is a huge win for us. So even though she has yet to wag her tail or greet us at the door, we are going to celebrate the small victories and believe that it will come one day, with time 🙂

We have received tons of support through the Singapore Specials community and the dog community in general. Lots of fellow pawrents drop us encouraging notes, tips and sometimes just really kind messages to acknowledge the effort we have put in and how Mayo has progressed since Day 1. I would love to share with fellow pawrents on how we have worked with her in hopes to help other people in the same boat but that’s going to be another lengthy post for another time.

Till then, follow us on Instagram @mayothedogo to watch our progress and share in our successes and failures! We are not dog trainers, but if what we do can inspire you to do something different, we say GO FOR IT! Don’t give up on your pup, it will be worth it in the end.

Mayo signing off!

The above article is written by the hooman of @mayothedogo.


  • Joshua
    Posted September 7, 2020 4:20 pm 0Likes

    Can’t wait to see even more of Mayo’s progress!

  • lokithetoast
    Posted September 7, 2020 4:33 pm 0Likes

    Awww, looking forward to seeing more of Mayo too!

  • brownbethboba
    Posted September 8, 2020 6:40 pm 0Likes

    we love this singapore special story 😍

  • Happie
    Posted September 11, 2020 2:38 pm 0Likes

    Thanks for sharing!!

  • Kai
    Posted September 11, 2020 8:00 pm 0Likes

    Thank u for sharing!

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