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Posts Tagged ‘fearful dogs’

OK, I’ll admit it. After yesterday, I was really hoping that Tooey would win Best of Breed again today. She is certainly (IMHO) beautiful enough.

102509_Tooey

But instead, I was able to take pleasure in another goal that I had going into this show. Like a lot of dogs, Tooey has been a bit shy with men. And I already knew that today’s judge was going to be a man. So one of my goals was that Tooey would not freak out at being examined by the male judge.

We’ve been practicing. I have been approaching strange and not-so-strange men everywhere we go, asking them if they would give Tooey a cookie. Several weeks ago we had a major breakthrough at Colleen and Gary’s house.

At the beginning of the evening, Tooey was being stand-offish with Gary. Not running away, just barely nosing forward and then stepping back several paces when he tried to pet her. But Gary persevered, and by the end of the evening, she actually approached him, asked for the cookie, and let him pet her topknot and ears.

That gave me hope, so I kept it up. At parks, on the sidewalks, in front of stores, at conformation class, I would scout likely male prospects. Russ pitched in by asking some of the men at Tooey’s puppy socialization class to work with her, too.

Food helps. In the ring today, Tooey knew I had her favorite treat in my pocket, and when the judge stepped forward to examine her, she stood still, not backing away. And then, when he moved down her body, I stepped around, stuffed a treat in her face, and joy of joys, she wagged her tail! You can see in the video at about 0:40:

And congratulations to Tom and his Maggie for their Best of Breed win today.

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Sometimes the fact that a dog can’t talk is a blessing. Those times when you just want someone to listen but not give advice. When you want to take a walk or a drive without having to chat. When you just want a snuggle.

But when your dog is sick or afraid, everything becomes a guessing game, and it’s not always easy to know if you’ve guessed right.

Late one afternoon last week, I opened the front door and walked into a wall of smell — gaggy and disgusting. It had to be Tooey. Fortunately for us, Tooey was in her crate, so she’d had no opportunity to spread whatever it was around the house.

When I got to Tooey’s crate, I could see that she must have gotten into something that made everything come out both ends. Poor Tooey — stuck in a crate with all that. We’d coincidentally had a vet appointment that afternoon anyway, so I swooped her up in my arms, put her in the car, and drove to the vet.

She’d gotten into something, all right. We don’t know what, but something that introduced way too many actively reproducing bacteria into her gut. The vet prescribed antibiotics, and then away we rushed to the dog wash. That night, after washing and drying the dog, cleaning up the car, washing my clothes, cleaning her crate, and then washing all the various towels I’d used, I flopped into bed and slept.

That was easy.

Harder is the fear. For some reason, Tooey is afraid of people. When anyone comes up to her, she backs away. Fortunately, she’s not aggressive or defensive — she just steps away.

This is such a change from the day we met her. That day, she was thrilled to see us, two strangers. She ran with us, wanted us to pet her, jumped up on us for hugs, chased a ball for us, and hung around us as much as she could.

And with the two of us, she still does all this. After 3-1/2 weeks, we’re not strangers anymore. But with strangers, she steps back.

It’s a puzzle. I’m hoping it’s merely a combination of being in her 4th home for only 3-1/2 weeks and being 9 months old. I’m hoping that as she gets used to us, our house, and our neighborhood, she’ll become less afraid. That as she matures, she’ll become less afraid. That getting her some training and not forcing her into anything will help her become more confident.

So, just as I did with Cooper and all his various and completely different behavior issues, I’m talking to as many people as I can, reading as much as I can find, trying to figure out what Tooey can’t tell me, and how to help her.

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