Why 3-year-old Dexter is finally getting to be a puppy

It was supposed to be a temporary thing. Christian Gallant would foster Dexter, one of 77 dogs surrendered from a property in Cape Breton, at his home on P.E.I. Then Dexter stole Gallant’s heart, and on Wednesday he became part of the family.

A dog surrendered from a property in Cape Breton is settling into his new P.E.I. home

Christian Gallant says it took Dexter a couple weeks to open up to him. (Submitted by Christian Gallant)

Dexter had never sniffed a fire hydrant, chased a squirrel or barked at a passing car.

So when he arrived at the P.E.I. Humane Society this spring, along with 13 others that were among 77 surrendered from a property in Cape Breton, he was a little wary of humans.

But Christian Gallant decided to foster Dexter anyway, at least until he found his forever home. At first, Dexter kept his distance, Gallant said.

"He was caged for the majority of his life and he is three years old. And so, as you can imagine, a lot of those things that puppies experience in their early days, he's never experienced."

Dexter never got to experience what most other puppies do. (Christian Gallant)

Gallant was Dexter's third foster family. Dexter eventually started to warm up to Gallant and his two other dogs.

The steady supply of treats may have helped. But Gallant remembers the moment Dexter officially stole his heart, and became a permanent part of the family.

He just nudged me with his nose to say, I want some love, like I want you to touch me, I'm ready.— Christian Gallant

"It was that moment, like that aha moment, when he came over and I was working and he just nudged me with his nose to say, I want some love, like I want you to touch me, I'm ready."

It's what's known in the dog community as a "foster fail," when dog lovers become so attached to the animal they can't give them up.

"So Dexter is a foster fail," Gallant said. "He's joined my pack."

Gallant's heart was there for the taking. He had lost his oldest of three dogs, and said he felt something missing.

"As much as I love both of my other dogs, there are those other four paws, right,  and those extra cuddles at night in the bed that were missing."

Dexter officially became part of the Gallant household on Wednesday. (Christian Gallant)

Gallant said Dexter, who is on anxiety medication, got along with his two other dogs better than he expected. It took longer for him to gain Gallant's trust.

"It's been taking two weeks for him to fully open up to me and to let me touch him and things like that. And he would always, you know, have a watchful eye on me in the house. And he would be around me, but did not want to necessarily interact with me because he mentally was not ready."

Gallant signed the adoption papers on Wednesday. He said it's nice to see Dexter come out of his shell.

"He's playing with the other dogs. And he seems very puppy-ish, probably because he's never had the experience or the opportunity to be a puppy."

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With files from Angela Walker