Happy Anniversary

On January 30th, it will be the one year anniversary when Honey and her kids came here to live and become part of the family.  I thought this would be a good time to review what has been accomplished, the good and bad, the decisions that have been made during the past year regarding the new life I envision for her and my new commitment to helping fearful dogs.

Upon her arrival, I had no clue what to expect or do regarding her except to get the pups handled, socialized and ready for adopting to deserving homes.  I can say proudly “Mission accomplished” (I’m not stating that in a flight suit on an aircraft carrier) with that first major goal.  I can’t take all the credit, Honey was a great mom keeping them all well fed and allowing the handling of the pups anytime, she could have objected but didn’t.

During the 8 weeks of puppy raising the wonderful internet was searched and re-searched looking for information on living with fearful/feral dogs.  If you are here on this blog, you know who the people are I am indebted to for all the help, Debbie, Mary, Amy, Kevin, Ute, Joan and Dr. Warner.  Now if I had listened to all the great advice, I don’t think there would be any bad stuff to report.  Being of German ancestry, I’m stubborn and get told so frequently, therefore I can blame some of the poor discussions made on my linage.

The good:  I no longer refer to her as a fearful dog but a very cautious, inquisitive dog.  All the indications are, 2011 will be a great year, if I remember to move slowly with her progress.  She now follows me like a shadow albeit 2 feet away, but very interested in ‘what’s up’ when I’m with the girl.  She now comes when called, by name, whistle or hand sign (thank you Dexter my deaf old Cow Dog, she picked that up on her own from him).

The bad:  That can be summed up in a few short words, I moved too fast in working with Her, period.  A great example of this is, when she started to come inside on her own and after only a week of her doing so, I closed the door to the outside preventing her escape. Bad move she wasn’t as ready as I was for that action.  I regret that still, but we’re working slowly on regaining the trust to come back inside.  Tiny and slow steps are my suggestion to anyone looking for advice on working with these awesome K-9s.

The biggest change in her has been the change in me!  Somewhere I read, change can happen in people who love these lost souls, it’s true.  I read Kevin Myers’ “A Fearful Dog Speaks” several times then decided to simply make a phone call to a local Shelter asking if there might be a need for someone to evaluate and work with any fearful dogs on site.  Not only was the answer “yes” but a resounding “Hell Yes.”   At a meeting called the very next day, we began a program to do just that.  More will come, as this fledgling program gets its wings.  In the month I have been going to the shelter 3 dogs were moved into foster and 1 onto the “ready for adoption section”.  Thank you Honey and Happy Anniversary.


Posted on January 11, 2011, in Our Blog. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. That is an incredible thing you are doing for the animals George! Yes, animals do certainly teach us so much. I am so happy to hear that Honey found you as her forever home.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting. Anyone can do the same, all it takes is the willingness to do it and a simple phone call to get started. If people did, they would learn so much and the forgotten ones would benefit.

      Keep checking in both on Honey’s progress, and the, whatever it’s called, new program at the kennel ( 2 more scared ones went to the adoption floor Tuesday.)

  2. Hey George, Congrats to you both on reaching your first anniversary!

    I think that once our dogs get the hang of being around kind humans they do tend to follow their chosen one all over the place. Gracie certainly does this, so much so now that every time I turn around I’m tripping over her! This can get annoying at times and sometimes downright dangerous, but I can’t get mad at her, as it’s the most ‘natural’ behaviour she has.

    It’s amazing that with the passing of time I forget sometimes that she once was this cowering, shaking, desperately unhappy animal, but with love and patience has turned into a happy, loving and most affectionate canine. Until we venture outside that is, when I am abruptly reminded how fearful of other humans she still is.
    However, as Debbie pointed out the other day there’s nothing wrong with being a ‘homebody’, and who knows, behaviour does change with time, we can all attest to that.
    Over the past two weeks Gracie has been allowing my husband to stroke her, at first I thought it was a ‘flash in the pan’ and that she wouldn’t let him touch her again, but no he fondles and strokes her every day; I’ve even seen her push her head right into his hand so that he keeps the contact with her, but it has to be only when he’s sitting down. She is still wary of him when he’s standing up and if he puts his hand down in her direction she will back away.

    So there you are, two years ago this kind of progress seemed impossible but there is always hope. I’m sure that Honey will get there in the end.

    • Thanks Lizzie for the congrats and a big return congrats to your husband, I know he’s been working hard to pet Gracie, well done.

      Our mentor Debbie is right on nothing wrong with a home body or a outside dog, I may not like that, but Honey may, so there we go changing us again.

      I just had a idea just before I hit the post button. Ask your husband to just before he gets up to put a treat on his bare foot then stand and I’ll just bet Gracie will take the treat while he is standing, you never know, it worked with Honey. I can stand and she shows no difference between me standing or sitting, just a thought.

      • Thanks George, might give the foot thing a try, although I’m not sure about bare feet, you haven’t seen my husband without socks on 🙂

        I uploaded another video of Gracie today, you might like to watch it : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NH7fN0bOgBo

        • How awesome is that, thanks for sending. I do have a question though, when Gracie barks, does she have a Scottish accent too?

          Great video. thanks

          • Sadly Gracie is not confident enough to bark as any other dog would. I’m told that puppy farm dogs do not want to attract attention to themselves and so keep very quiet 😦 I’ve only heard her voice three times so far and she was as surprised as I was to hear a bark.

            My other two boys are not so very quiet and it does scare Gracie when they are in full flow! Oh and Gracie comes from Wales so no Scottish accent either 🙂

  3. George,
    I have had a very fearful dog since December 17th. Fortunately for Balkan and myself, I eventually found Debbie and he support and help has already been invaluable to us both (although I guess I am the only one in this partnership who can reason it out).
    Debbie suggested I look at your blog and you have no idea how much hope and optimism I have got from it.
    I am so proud of the steps Balkan has made but at first I thought I was failing him. I sort of had an idea of what was needed but all well meaning friends and training “Gods” were telling me different. I was confused, he was fearful and confused. I thought he needed to go faster as (allegedly) he was a lazy dog, taking advantage of me!
    He has made MASSIVE steps in his world. And today, another little step forward – together. He has twice come out of his den (also known as the bedouin tent) and pee’d and poo’d on his training pads. Admittedly, I had to read his signals and exit stage right from the room for him to come out and do that. But together we did it.
    Note to self – I think the hearts I boiled up for him for a change of diet may not be the best thing for his tummy.
    I will be eternally grateful for people like Debbie, Mary (Aaron’s blog was a fab inspiration) and yourself – and I guess all the others I have yet to meet.
    I just know Balkan has hidden depths! And together we will find them!

    • Thank you for the very nice words. The hardest part to keep in the front of our mind is, Dogs have no real concept of time, time is a human invention. The interesting part of living and working with the fearful ones, is how excited we all get with every tiny step they make, even if it seems like a extremely long time to us.

      Keep remembering Balkan has a lot to teach you. For example: boiled chicken livers may be a better choice.

      I too am grateful to Debbie and all the other for all their unselfish help and words of encouragement.

      I might add, it only took 354 days, human time, for her to stroll into the house on her own this last Wednesday.

  4. I love hearing that she shadows you around. I also look forward to reading about your visits to the shelter George. That’s a great thing you are doing-being the change.

  5. Happy anniversary! I can’t believe it’s been a year. You really are her angel, George. She and her pups hit the lottery when they met you. And it’s so true how much we learn about ourselves from our experiences with our dogs, especially the challenging ones. How awesome that Honey led you to now help other shy and scared dogs.

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