Sunday, October 21, 2012
As soon as we left her kennel the pulling began; at the front desk I had one of the staff check her harness; she was pulling so hard it looked as though it might come off. I closed my eyes for a quick prayer that the exercise yard would be vacant; if ever a dog needed to burn off energy, it was Lanie. Prayer answered, yard vacant, in we go.
Lanie began dashing round and round the perimeter, stopping only to whimper and whine for any dog she spotted, near or far. She absolutely loves other dogs. Just a note, on our return to the shelter she even behaved affectionately toward dogs who showed aggression toward her. It made me dizzy just watching her zip around and I did not like the fact that she was ignoring me. Fetch did the trick, she is pretty good at it and it got her to pay more attention to me, not perfect but improved. Then I decided to force the issue. I stood in the middle of the yard so that I could not be ignored; she finally stopped dashing around came over for pets and looked at me. I rewarded her with treats and we began our walk.
I decided that getting her out into the open desert and away from the stimulus of other dogs would be a good next move. The leash pulling resumed with a vengeance. For about the next 15 minutes, I blew it. I just let her pull and marveled that the training harness made it not too uncomfortable for me. It took me until we got to the halfway point and turned back to realize what a disservice I was doing her. Allowing her to pull and ignore me was certainly NOT adding to her adopt-ability.
She pulled, I came to a stop. We stood there until she turned around, looked at me and proceeded slowly. Every time the leash tightened and she pulled, I stopped. I'd like to say that this fixed everything; it did not, but it made a difference. I walked very slowly, she walked much more upright with intermittent tension in the leash but not at all like our outbound trek. She looked back at me often and earned lots of treats for this. As we approached the shelter I saw her begin to tense up, I kept talking to her but it was hard to keep her attention. Once inside I shortened her leash, she was excited but not pulling excessively. A family with children were just leaving the kennel area and I made her sit, stay and look at me - she aced it!
Considering that Lanie is a high energy young dog, with so many stressful transitions in her recent past and the day to day stress of general shelter life, she made an amazing amount of progress in just an hour. Let's hope she finds a home of her own soon and it would be wonderful if it included another dog.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
I had just finished "walking" Emma, and asked the shelter's Volunteer Coordinator for suggestions of adoption agencies in addition to the shelter, she reminded me to try All for Dogs; I checked it later and filled out the on-line application for Willow. She has had one accident her first day with us, but otherwise she is just an incredible dog. She looks forward to making lots of new doggy and human friends here in Sunriver plus she will likely be getting a cat friend in the next few months. Once we all get settled, we plan to adopt a kitty.
I'll still be walking dogs at the shelter, however this week has been too busy.
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Emma stood in the hall and trembled; I sat next to her talking and petting. As the staff went about their normal duties, they all acknowledged her. One staff person was very encouraged that she was brave enough to stand there and not hide in the comforter - socialization one step at a time. After about 15 minutes, I asked a staff person to help me carry her just outside the door. It is a fairly quiet grassy spot with a view of the exercise yard and used only by the staff.
I sat on the walkway, she lay next to me as close as possible, but soon her nose began telling her that there are lots of interesting things in the world. After just a few minutes she got brave enough to stand up and walk around sniffing, but only within a few feet of me. At one point, the staff led two big dogs fairly close to us. They were taking them into another yard and we were in their path. Though they barked at Emma, she was not at all afraid; she actually walked toward them wagging; but the minute she realized what she was doing she turned around and quickly and buried her head in my lap. Another staff member came out to see how she was doing and was really impressed that Emma approached her independently. I was about to get another surprise when Emma spotted her brother, Mason in the exercise yard. She stood up bravely and barked at him, her shoulder ruff standing straight up. It's against the rules for the dogs to be in contact with each other, so she could not go visit, but she was certainly not at all timid concerning her brother.
Once the exercise yard was free, I thought I'd see if I could get Emma to walk toward it. She picked up her brother's scent, bravely walked over to the yard and through the gate for some serious sniffing. At last Emma was behaving like a real Coon Hound! When it was time to return, we went through the Shelter's main door but unfortunately much of the shyness returned. She had to be carried most of the way. I still think she made a lot of progress today, though there is still work to be done. I think she will make a very good pet for the owner who likes Coon Hounds since, unlike some of them, she seems very dependent on human comforting. Hunting dogs are sometimes type cast as being too independent, this is definitely not the case with Emma. If anything, she leans toward the "needy" side.