Thursday, September 30, 2010

Harley and his Favorite Game

Things continue to go very well for Harley here at my home. We're coming up on a month now that he's been staying with me, and have still come across no serious issues. He continues to come with me on errands to be exposed to his surroundings and is taking it all in stride. He even handled a 12-hour day trip driving with three other dogs and going to different touristy sites with 30 other people, and handled it like a champ.

I've been wanting to get a video of Harley playing his favorite game of all - ball. He will do anything for the ball, anytime, anywhere, no matter what is going on around him. He's quite the comedian with it, and it is one of the more pleasurable times of his day.

I'm also very pleased to have gotten our CGN certificates from Zipper's and Shimmer's test in July. They look very nice, and I think I am going to get a double frame for them and hang them here in the office. A nice memory of the shy, sensitive girl Shimmer used to be and how far she's come, and a plain ole reminder of how Zipper's wonderful stability.

Next we are looking forward to lots of fun in our upcoming Rally trials, with the expectation of one, and the hope of two, new Rally titles!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Two Weeks and Looking Good!

Harley has now been with us here for two weeks.

Any issues about him being stressed about being left alone have seem to have dissipated. He goes to his room quietly and calmly, and will run right in the room when I say "Time for bed!", when I go to work or when it is actually bedtime. No more whining or barking, and he doesn't stir until we get up in the morning. He has had two nights of snuggling up in bed with us while we watched TV, but he is still sleeping in his own room at night.

He's settled right down with the eating pattern, and he's now eating in the kitchen, two meals per day, along with my other three dogs. We are working on his sit/stay during feeding time while I set down his dish and he waits patiently for his release word. His targeting and down behaviours are coming along nicely as well, and he's started to gain a bit of interest in puzzle toys, although he clearly doesn't *get* them. He'll eat the treats that come out, but doesn't really get the concept of pushing them around to work for his food.

I've been taking him outside to play along with Gaci and the ball. Gaci's not much of a ball player, but she loves the chase, so we've been playing games where he catches and brings back the ball, and Gaci races him down and back. In the beginning he was a bit guarded, and guard-y, of the ball with her, but he's beginning to understand that she's just having fun running with him, and doesn't want the ball. He's taking a bit of a rest though for a few days since he seems to have overexerted himself a bit and was tender on one leg after playing. I'm guessing he just jumped a little too much or stepped into a little rut in the ground, but all is well, just needs a little rest for a couple of days.

He had his first haircut with me this past week too, as he was pretty scruffy! And he was just the most perfect guy, didn't flinch at all and stood nicely the entire time I clipped, combed, and scissored him. The next task to tackle will be his nails, as they are quite long, but I figured that was enough for one day for a new challenge. Baby steps!

He really is developing into the most affectionate, sweet little guy. He loves his rubbies and he loves his snuggles, and is just looking for a little dose of attention here and there without asking for too much. And of course, he loves his ball!

A couple of photos of him and Gaci playing (30 foot line attached). He is the one who always has the ball in the photos.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

One Week In

So we're one week in with our *new addition* to the home. Things have settled out a lot since that first day that I was met with a terrified, shaking, sad dog. He now greets us in the morning, and after work, with a wagging tail and looks forward to his snuggles and attention. He spent the weekend being cared for by my parents, and he took to them as well, so that is now four strange adults under his belt that he has developed the beginnnings of a trusting relationship with.

He is still coexisting with my own dogs quite well. They don't really interact with each other, aside from the occasional bum/facial sniff, but they are all for the most part relaxed with each other and he has developed an interest in watching them play, sometimes resulting in a wagging tail and so far we've had one brief play bow and a little "garuff" of interest.

Since we now have the foundation of a working relationship, he is learning to lay down and to target my hand with his nose. We will be soon starting on Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol as well, which he will derive a lot of benefit from I think. All of these behaviours will come in handy in the future both in terms of working out in public and if he is deemed rehomable. Regardless, though, he enjoys his time interacting one-on-one and enjoys learning, and he is a lightning-fast learner, let me tell you! After discovering for myself his intense joy of any and all forms of balls, we are using that as a big reward in different situations. He has more drive to work for a ball than he does with food, although now that he is destressing and his body is returning to a more relaxed state, he is becoming more interested in food as well so we switch up between the rewards depending on the exercise.

His housetraining is perfect. He eliminates quickly outside and has not had any accidents in the house. I'm not 100% sure, but I think he is even *asking* to go out by going to the door, although time will tell how consistent that is.

He did have a a bit of a difficult night settling down last night. He is such a velcro-dog at heart, a real soft dog, that we are combining controlled freedoms with some alone time in his room, as I don't want to risk developing *too* strong a relationship right off the bat that is too dependent on us and results in separation issues. It will come in time, he is just stuck in that middle grey area between fear and trust right now, that will take some time.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Two Days In......

So we've settled in a bit after two days.

In the beginning, the only way to describe our little man was shellshocked. He was suspicious of everyone and while he walked on leash with me, he remained at the end of the leash seeking escape, eyes wide as dinner plates and shaking heavily as everything he knew had just been ripped out from under him. He took up refuge under the kitchen table, and then under the bed in *his room* that I had set up for him. We did end up removing access to under the bed, so that we could safely handle him to get him outside.

Treats were a no-go for the first day altogether, although two days later we did share a philly cheese/steak wrap and he did approach to take several pieces of steak from my hand. Although he did reject the pure salmon and freeze-dried chicken. He only ate his supper after we had gone to bed and we could hear him crunching kibble in the other room.

The next day he got to meet my guys through baby gates and expens, and while not over friendly, he did not appear to be too worried either. They spent the full day seeing each other with no contact. I continued taking him outside to do his business, and just spent time sitting with him and being there. Only making contact if he wanted, the first day went pretty much touch-free except to put on and remove his leash. However, he did bring a smile to my face when he approached me the following morning while I was on the computer and gently nudged my hand with his nose for some verrrrrrrrrrrrrry small attention. Fast forward to last night I was sitting in the living room with him, I sat on the floor and just sort of looked out the window, singing softly. And much to my wondering eyes did appear, Harley came out from under the coffee table to sit beside me, and nudged my hand again. I gently put my hand down and brushed his back, and when I stopped he placed his head under my hand to acknowledge and give permission to continue. We sat there for about fifteen minutes, following this pattern of 30 seconds of massage and gentle touch, and leaving him to decide if it was enough or he wanted more. It was satisfying compared to the day he came home.

He is still frightened of quick movements and I cannot say there is any sort of trust yet, however I think it's under there and he's trying to reach out. He is now dragging a leash through the house during supervised times, and follows me (and my partner) everywhere when we leave the room. He is now loose with my three dogs in controlled situations, and we'll see how things progress. He's not showing any interest in them at this time, and is quite tentative understandably, but he's also not being inappropriate. He made one totally appropriate warning to Shimmer when she got in his face a little too quickly and assertively, and a quick "Leave It" was a solution to any pending arousal.

Time will tell how further progress is made. I am most surprised, and impressed, with Gaci, who I thought would be the last dog to be understanding of his situation, with all of the issues she has gone through. Yet she is the one who is sending out the most calming signals, is the most relaxed with him, and seems to understand that he is in a bad place right now. Who knows, maybe even she can understand where he's coming from. It's definitely the opposite reaction of when I had my last foster here.  Whatever it is, she seems to know where he's at, and is responding accordingly.

One day at a time, that's all we're at.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A little boy, and his quest for decisions.

I had originally questioned sharing this on a blog, but I figured in the end, no matter the decision, this little boy deserves to have his story known.

I was called in last night, on a more personal note, when a male, neutered, 7.5 yo. Mini Schnauzer bit an infant (approx ten months old - crawling age) that he lived with.  Upon questioning further, it quickly showed that this dog was extremely fearful of the child since birth, seeing as the dog had 7 years of being a loved family pet, and then had it's world turned upside down by a new baby in the home. 

The family's life was also turned upside down. Their beloved dog committed what is often considered the *ultimate sin*, biting a young child. In reality, the baby was being a baby, and the dog was being a dog, with loose access to each other, and it's almost always a recipe for disaster.  While we explain how important it is to socialize your puppy to young children and babies even if you don't have children of your own, as you just never know what can happen, it's easy to think that you have done all that is needed until that time comes that trauma strikes.

As of this writing I have a room set up for this little dog, to see where to go from here. I don't know what the fate of this little dog will be - all I know is that we all agreed that the dog needed to be removed from the home immediately, for both the wellbeing, but also the safety, of all.  The option of immediate euthenasia came up, and was discussed at length, but for the time being it was agreed that I will take him in and assess him overall to see what options he *might* or might not have for a future home. The goal is to discover if there would be an option for a child-free home, or if that risk itself is too high or if there are any other issues presenting that might alter any decisions made for him.

I will update with progress, regardless of what that progress turns out to be. I have some big choices to make in the near future, and that is whether or not this dog can live in another home, or whether euthenasia may be the kindest option. Only time will tell.
So please, please keep this sweet little guy in your thoughts, for whatever ends up being his fate.