Dog Kept in a Crate Most of Her Life By a Breeder Slowly Learns to Trust

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The following story is a finalist in the Rescue to Royalty Challenge. Three grand prize winners will receive a $250 shopping spree, while a shelter of their choosing will be awarded $2,000 in cash and needed supplies! You can vote for your favorite story here through May 8!

Petra was born in Serbia. She came from a strong Eastern European Malinois line. She was purchased by a breeder, and then brought to the USA before I met her.

She was crated most of her life and bred too early and too often. She exhibited clear and multiple signs of emotional neglect and a lack of socialization. Physically, the majority of her teeth are broken and worn, which veterinarians believe is a result of repeatedly trying to chew through metal on her crate.


The small island community where Petra lived tried to help her. Multiple caring individuals tried repeatedly to save her – from the kindhearted animal-loving ACO, the local shelter, the veterinary community, animal hospital staff and the animal-loving community at large – all without any success.

At the breeder’s home, Petra was attacked by another female dog. The owner came to me for assistance with her injuries. They are too terrible and graphic to list here, it was not looking promising for her survival. I immediately put Petra in my car and we went to the animal hospital for her evaluation, treatment and prognosis. To the relief of the veterinary staff, I insisted Petra receive the care and complex surgery she required. Then I immediately offered to care for Petra at my home during what was expected to be a month-long recovery.

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This was the beginning of a great love affair. Petra and I soon found ourselves inseparable. Slowly, Petra learned to feel safe and took to her new routine. I provided that special balance for her, one that she had been searching for her whole life. It contained affection and structure that she desperately needed.

Petra is very active and is now living her best life. She receives ongoing veterinary care. She gets multiple daily walks, training, play time and sports, too. She is thriving in her loving and supportive environment with family, friends and acquaintances.


Progress was slow and Petra had to learn to relax in her crate. She needed to understand she did not need to resource guard or fight for her food or fresh water. That she could go about her life without the constant fear of being attacked or simply neglected. Petra learned to enjoy the routine of walks, at first very short walks multiple times a day, which were filled with apprehension because everything was a sensory overload, from the noise of the metal gate, a car, any dog regardless of size, or even a jogger. A loud noise would send Petra suddenly jerking in fear. Even the sound of the waves terrified her.

We never gave up on each other; Petra and I forged ahead. Petra learned to trust me, to love me and to rely on me. Petra learned that a walk on the beach is a source of great fun. They are filled with scents and sounds of seagulls, crabs and ducks, which she has learned not to chase. Petra learned she will be fed on a regular basis, that she is safe in her home and in her crate. She is safe, secure and loved.

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Her life is filled with a routine, with long daily walks, a few carefully chosen dog and human friends, play, training and more play. Her closest friends include Max, also a Malinois. They are the best of friends, it’s a great love story. They meet weekly to enjoy long walks in the countryside and the beach. Max is patient, kind and tolerant. Petra also helps rescues new to the island by providing them with the confidence to explore and broaden their world. She also enjoys getting together with her pups Zeus and Frank.

Living like royalty means that Petra receives regular vet care and is up to date on all her vaccines. Petra has successfully won her battle with heartworm shortly after recovering from her mauling. She receives balanced food, breed-appropriate treats and a variety of supplements, including a probiotic, pumpkin purée and fish oil. She stays lean and maintains a healthy weight due to her active lifestyle. She knows I will advocate for her, and she does not need to always meet every dog or person. In return, Petra is fiercely loyal, playful and caring. She is definitely living her best life.

Her entry is earmarked to benefit American Belgian Malinois Rescue. ABMR is a breed specific rescue that is dear to my heart and does an outstanding job helping Malinois at risk, including numerous mamas about to deliver.

This story was submitted by Valerie Sharp in support of American Belgian Malinois Rescue. You can read more Rescue to Royalty Challenge stories and vote for your favorite here!

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