Proverbs 12:10 A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
Meet Sheba and Lucy; two of nearly 400 American Eskimo dogs rescued from a puppy mill in Kennewick, WA., about May, 2009. The following pages describe the process I went through in their rehabilitation and how I am preparing them for their eventual adoption. I exposed them to all sorts of normal activity; the sort of thing they will experience as part of a normal family environment, such as house and yard work, riding in a vehicle and a lot of different noises. I taught them to walk correctly on a leash, alone and with a pack of dogs. This was a critical "first step" in their rehabilitation. Through the walk, I established myself as the "pack leader" and thereby provided for a genetic need common to all dogs: proper leadership. You can't rehabilitate a dog without first being that dog's leader. I also taught them how to behave towards other dogs and to people they did not know.
It is Day 1 in the above photo. Sheba (front) and Lucy are leashed up but refusing to leave the security of their den (the kennel). This sort of confined environment is where they have lived all their lives. I will leave them alone until they feel comfortable enough to venture forth and explore the world. Don't worry about the leashes. I'll keep a close eye on them. They won't get hurt and, it'll make them easier to catch when I introduce them to a new, larger "den".
Notice how calm both dogs appear. I spent nearly 30-minutes introducing them to the leashes. I wanted them to associate the leash with a calm state of mind, so before putting them on, I let them smell the leashes and I stroked them gently with them. Only after they had calmed down did I actually slip the leashes on. Shortly after that, I took the above photo. It's important to give a dog time to submit to a new tool, not have it forced upon them.
Above, Lucy and Sheba are enjoying each others company in the portable pen I set-up for them. This is day-2 of rehabilitation. They are essentially settling into their new environment. In this manner they will learn that people and other dogs are not a threat and that they can relax without fear.
Above, we see Lucy and Sheba after about 60-days of intensive rehabilitation. They both look and feel much better than they did when they first arrived, and they are interacting with other dogs in my pack quite well now.
In the above photo, Lucy is playing with Buddy, my 3-year old male Chihuahua. This sort of play still needs close monitoring as Lucy is accustomed to playing only with Sheba, who is nearly three times the size of Buddy.
In the above photo, Sheba stands back, out of the way, while Lucy takes a breather from being chased and chasing Buddy around the yard. To some, all this chasing around might seem like plenty of exercise. However, this activity doesn't provide the purposeful, goal-oriented exercise of the pack walk.
Both dogs have been taking daily 1-1/2 to 2-hour "pack walks" with the other members of the pack, when weather permits. For rainy weather or too hot days, an indoor powered treadmill and weighted backpack substitute. These "pack walks" help unbalanced dogs learn how to relate properly to their pack leader, to other dogs as pack members (all dogs are pack-oriented), as well as with outsiders. The outsiders are off-leash dogs we encounter on a daily basis, and the "fence fighters", those frustrated, unbalanced dogs that behave as though they would kill you if they could only get through the fence. Through these experiences, the dogs are learning to let the Pack Leader (that's me!), deal with the off-leash dogs, and to simply follow the Pack Leader, ignoring and passing by the loud, unbalanced fence fighters. Whoever adopts these dogs, especially Lucy, needs to assess their own energy level first because Lucy needs to be in a high-energy household. These walks need to continue, even after adoption, to keep her well-balanced and happy.
There are also tools I use in working with dogs: The Leash, the Backpack, and the Staff.
The type of leash I prefer using is a 6-foot, soft cord slip-leash, similar to the ones used in dog shows. I have several of different thicknesses. The larger the dog, the thicker the leash. With this style of leash, I can position it on the dog's neck where I have the most control: at the top, right at the base of the skull, with the tail of the leash closest to me, hanging down through the ring, never coming up through it. In this position, when I apply corrections, which are used to distract the dog when they lose their focus and start misbehaving on the walk, I need only use the lowest levels of corrective energy. A light "tug and release", as opposed to trying to distract and correct a dog's behavior while it's dragging me down the road; the "who's walking whom" syndrome. Since the dogs walk right next to or behind me, corrections are either straight up, or sideways, towards my body. If your dog is in front, pulling against the leash, your pulling against the dog only makes the dog pull more. It's a recursive loop that you can't hope to escape from.
Most domesticated dog breeds came about because we human kind wanted a dog to do something special. We gave them a particular job to do, and then bred characteristics into that dog that made it easier for the dog to do the job we gave it. We "created" a breed. Since all domesticated dogs have at least a little bit of this "job drive" in them, I strive to satsify whatever amount a given dog has by having them carry a saddlebag-style blackpack while out on the migration walk. Usually, they are carrying the water they will be drinking. That's their job and they seem to know it's important. The extra weight helps the dog to burn excess energy too.
While on the walks, I carry a 6' wood staff. This staff becomes a nerve-less and blood-less extension of myself. When pointed forward, it serves to let aggressive, territorial, or overly curious off-leash dogs know, because it conducts some of my nervous energy, that I require at least that amount of space between me and them. Turned sideways, to a dog, it makes me look a lot bigger. If one of the dogs I'm walking tries to take the lead, simply moving the staff in front of them is sufficient to slow them down. This position is also maintained when we're waiting to cross a busy street or road. It's essentially a tool for controlling dogs and used properly, it's quite effective.
It seems that most people who do not understand using the staff, assume it's a club (because that's what they would use it for - we all speak from our knowledge and experiences), and often behave in very anti-social ways when they see it being used. Fortunately, there are not many people like that awake in the morning hours when we take our walks.
Should you, Dear Reader, consider using the staff while you walk your dog, always remember the staff is a tool, not a weapon. In all the years I've used a staff, I have never encountered a situation where striking a dog, regardless of breed, even large, feral dogs, with it was ever an option. My nervous energy and body language has always been sufficient to communicate my intentions to the dog. I just have to wait for them to submit and retire. If you're patent, calm and confident, any dog will eventually submit.
In the rare event you encounter an aggressive dog that's bound and determined to bite something, you can let him bite the staff. Just hold onto it and let him bite and snarl. Remember, that mental state is very exhausting and he'll soon tire of it. So long as you stay calm, and keep your pack calm, once the aggressor has tired himself out, he will disengage and leave. Wait for him to leave though. You should never turn your back on a dog that is behaving like that. He may have neurological or disease problems that are responsible for the behavior, which makes him unpredictable.
What follows are a series of reports I file with the dog owners every week or so, describing how the dogs are progressing and if there are any problems they need to address. It's helpful to remember that these dogs had no idea what "being a dog" was all about when I took delivery of them. We're starting from ground zero. Also, I am not "training" these dogs. Training is what people do to dogs for the benefit of people. This is rehabilitation, and it's all for the benefit of the dog, and when successful, it makes training a lot easier.
Some people have, considering my Faith, questioned why I spend so much time working with dogs. "Are people not more important than dogs?" They ask. The way I see it, owning a companion dog is of great benefit to an individual, especially in this society where so many of us are cut-off from meaningful interaction and relationship with members of our own kind. Through dog ownership, we can learn about what trust and honesty is all about. If we tend to be a bit hyper and/or emotionally unbalanced, our dog will help us to calm down, as they tend to reflect our own nervous energy. Their behavior will remind us to calm down. From that calm state of mind, we can think clearly about important matters and find our own mental and emotional balance. Additionally, a person who tends towards being withdrawn, while walking their dog, will suddenly find that they have common ground with other people they meet, who are also walking their dogs. So, by helping a dog to become a calm, balanced companion animal to a human, I'm helping that human to achieve a better life than they had before the dog came along, and that just might be the first step towards a general improvement in their life and perhaps, a desire in them to hear from God.
The following report excerpt is from June 10, after about a week or so of working with them.
Both dogs exhibit very high levels of anxiety whenever they are separated from one another. Lucy's energy is by and far the stronger of the two. Her anxiety is diminished by dominating Sheba who, on the other hand is calmed by Lucy's domination. Lucy gets over separation quicker than Sheba, who will bark and hunt for Lucy obsessively until either Lucy comes back or she is attracted by another pack member's calm-submissive energy. The latter took nearly two hours to occur when I first tried it.
Since Lucy is responding to rehabilitation quicker than Sheba at this point, I believe she will approach becoming adoptable within a week or so of having her stitches removed, (I need to know when that is to be done). She needs a high level of exercise, (pack walks and treadmill work), to drain off all her accumulated toxic energy, and I can't yet go there without risking injury. Prospective adopters must realize that Lucy will require a lot of exercise, as well as discipline (rules, boundaries & limitations), and affection, in that order, to remain a happy and well-balanced family pet.
Once Lucy is adopted and out of the picture, Sheba will begin responding better to the pack and her rehabilitation can begin in earnest.
Sheba behaves as though she was taken from her mother too soon in her life. Her rehabilitation will take a bit longer than Lucy's. Sheba is fearful of almost everything. Her anxiety level is one of the highest I've ever seen. When the two combine with any sort of excitement, the potential for biting other dogs or people does exist. This IS correctable and will entail the same sort of work that Lucy experiences, but on a level more in line with her lower energy level.
Both dogs are very smart and attentive. One can tell that they really want to be with other dogs and experience life with people but, because of their mutually-shared inexperience, insecurity and anxiety, they have no idea how to do it. They are learning and I am confident that they both will make wonderful family pets, provided that the family they become a part of understands that they are first animals, then dogs, then American Eskimos, and then Lucy & Sheba, and that they must provide for their specific needs in that order. Treating them like human children or babies will eventually lead to a sad end for everyone involved.
|Lucy's behavior has greatly improved
since she began taking 2-hour pack migration walks. To date, while
there have only been three for her, they have been sufficient to
establish in her mind that I am her pack leader and that she can trust
humans. The level of toxic energy, while still in excess, is slowly
coming down. Bicycle running with her will take care of the rest of it.
The dominance aggression she demonstrates is also reducing. Put simply:
she's too tired to badger Sheba. In the right environment and with
appropriate training, Lucy would do well in dog agility contests;
something for her adoptive family to consider, seeing as she has a high
level of energy and needs the challenges such an activity would
Sheba is becoming friendlier as her anxiety dissipates. She has taken two pack migration walks and several short excursions. She is very well-behaved; almost as though she's familiar with it. After each one, she is calmer and more relaxed. She has yet to surrender to the leash without Lucy, however. I am expecting that to happen any day now. She has begun exploring her environment on her own initiative and because Lucy has had her energy drained on the walks, Sheba can conduct her explorations unmolested by Lucy.
I think we're approaching a turning point with Lucy, at least. Sheba, because she's older, is going to require more time and work. I am presently working on increasing the number of activities they each do apart. It is necessary that their harmful co-dependency be eliminated. In that state they will not be adoptable, even if they were kept together, because of the possibility of aggression. Behavior while grooming has also improved. All of Lucy's matted hair on her hind quarters has been removed and she's clearly more comfortable. Sheba enjoys her brushing and it's one of the activities that helps her to relax when a human is holding her.
participating in daily, 2-hour, pack migration walks, and since having
her sutures removed, has experienced running next to a bicycle a couple
of times: about ¼ mile. The toxic energy that she had built-up is all
but gone. She's still learning “how” to walk on a lead, but each
day she gets better at it. She gets a little excited and still pulls on
the lead but quickly figures out that it's more comfortable to walk at
the speed of the pack. She is also doing things more like a dog her age
should be doing: more play, with other dogs and me, too. Her favorite
thing is to swipe a rag I am using to clean something, then try and get
me to chase her. Sometimes, it's just a play-bow, tossing her head a
bit, then chasing around the yard. She engages me and the pack like
I would feel comfortable in saying that now, Lucy is okay to adopt, but only to people whose lifestyle is one of calm, confident, well disciplined, high energy. They will have to provide her with the exercise and mental challenges she will need to stay well-balanced. Having her wear a back-pack with a little weight in it while on her walks (2, 45-min/day minimum), would reduce the time of those walks (how many people do you know have two-hours a day to walk her around town?!?), and give her a job to do, as well. Whoever would be interested in her must be prepared for an accidental indoor floor soiling once in awhile, as she isn't completely house-trained. This is where continuing the walk will help: a regular feeding schedule with the walk no more than one-hour after will help get her used to doing her business someplace else, as will rewarding her when she asks to go outside for that purpose. Lucy will experience a little anxiety when she is first separated from Sheba, but it will pass, so long as her adoptive family is made to understand to never give affection when they notice her in an anxious or any other stressful state. They have to let her go through it, and move forward.
Lucy's new family needs to meet her correctly. The first time they must not talk to her, touch her or make eye contact with her. She must be allowed to smell them first, then, after she has indicated a willingness for more by hand licking or rubbing against a leg, eye contact, and finally talking to her. When she gets home, before entering the house, she needs to take a long walk with her new pack leader, so that the new owner's position is firmly established in her mind. Then, she needs to be correctly introduced to her new home, and the areas that she will be allowed to go there. That will let her know that she must respect those boundaries. Lucy should also have a “den”; a special place of her own to sleep and relax. If one is provided, she will go to it and claim it, automatically. Since she likes playing with other dogs, she would be good with another dog of the same size or larger that can match her energy level. Smaller dogs wouldn't be a good idea, as she tends to play a little rough (she jumps around and runs like a bullet, sometimes, if they get in the way, knocking them down). With proper leadership, consistent with exercise (daily walks), discipline (rules, boundaries, and limitations), then affection, Lucy will remain a well balanced pack member and everyone will stay happy. She is now, I believe, a good candidate for some basic obedience training.
Now, as for Sheba; She still has anxiety issues. As I noted above, she is very sensitive to electrical storms. Because she sees me as her pack leader, when an electrical storm is approaching, she becomes like a Doberman: a Velcro Dog: she sticks to me like glue. When the storm finally arrives, she almost panics. If she were left alone during a storm, she would either break and tear-up whatever she could get a hold of, or crawl shaking under or behind something. It might be difficult to find her under such circumstances. I can't see making her available for adoption yet, mainly because of this anxiety. In all other areas, she is responding well. The walks are helping, but she will lose it when I take her past a yard where there are a lot of barkers and fence fighters. Very large trucks w/air brakes are also an issue. Sheba's anxiety becomes very pronounced when she is separated from Lucy and it becomes really bad of she is left alone. She barks incessantly, running circles in her kennel or around a table. She will get past all of these issues with time and consistent rehabilitation.
I am very pleased with the progress we've made over the past week. I thought we might have had a little setback after bringing them down to the Shelter last Tuesday, but they both recovered from that emotional/mental trauma, and moved forward past it. The first course of whipworm medication was administered without incident.
Lucy has really improved on the walks since I started having her carry a 1 1.5 lb., backpack, last Tuesday. As soon as she tires, she settles down and walks better. Repetition will make this a maintainable behavior. Lucy still has issues with anyone picking up Sheba, although it's not quite as bad as it was. She still gets excited. If not corrected, it escalates to jumping, barking and nipping at Sheba. The key here is to apply the correction before the escalation.
Sheba is still anxious whenever encountering anything outside what has become her “norm” (just walking a straight line on a quite street), during walks. She panics, jumps around, then freezes-up. I have to regain her focus and have her sit down and calm down. In just a few moments she regains her composure and we continue the walk. She's beginning to use her nose on the walks, instead of playing statue while everyone else sniffs around. Sheba has started barking at nothing, if she thinks no one is paying attention to her.
Both Sheba and Lucy have taken-up playing with toys and chewing on rawhide bones while in the house. Lucy does try keeping all of them for herself, but there's no indication of “guarding”. She just waits until no one is looking, swipes the item and squirrels it away in her corner of the kennel. Their play is still pretty rough, so when the whole pack is together, they have to be closely supervised. Because the other two members are very small. An interesting observation is that both these dogs are actually beginning to look forward to to the daily walks. When it's time to leash-up, they nearly dive into the loops on their own, which means there's more time spent walking, and less time trying to catch them to put on the leashes. Something for prospective owners to note, for the first couple of weeks or so, keeping them leashed most of the time (not when they are in their kennels though), will make it easier to keep them under control in the house. Discipline (rules, boundaries, and limitations), is coming along well. Accidents in the house have almost ceased, and so has trampling of the flowerbeds.
|Yesterday, (7/6/09), Sheba was spayed,
so her physical activity will be very limited for the next week, and
limited for the week thereafter until her sutures are removed. She
walked into the clinic, and walked out on her own. She was, however,
“Velcro-Dog” on the way home. She isn't eating yet. I expect she
will take an interest either this evening, or perhaps tomorrow morning.
She takes water, but I only give her a little to avoid vomiting. Sheba
spent the night alone in her kennel, sleeping most of the evening and
through the night.
Lucy slept (a little) in the kennel in the rear of the house. She wasn't at all happy. She will be a barker when left alone, at least until after she becomes settled with her adoptive family. Lucy's progressing with her walking etiquette. She still pulls on the leash; not as bad as she was, but not really acceptable. The 2-lb., backpack helps a lot, but close, loud noises will send her into a spinning, jumping panic dance. I may have to add a little more weight to the backpack to stop that and help her maintain focus on following the pack and ignoring noises and barking dogs. She is becoming more curious about people she meets along the walk. Of course, everyone wants to check her out and pet her. I allow it after relaying the “meeting a dog” rules, (no touching, talking or eye contact), to them. After the walk (1 to 1-1/2 hours), Lucy spends an additional 15-minutes on the treadmill before she gets her dose of Fenbendazole (this is the third and last day of the second course). Then, she has food, water and takes a long nap. (Sheba is also receiving this treatment, but she's a day behind because of the surgery).
I think I've managed to brush-out most all of Lucy's puppy fur. It's been dropping off her, all over the place, but I noticed today when I was giving her medication, very little was on me and the floor when we were none. Also, we only wrestled around for about 3-minutes today before she surrendered to receiving the medication, as opposed to nearly an hour, the first time. When a dog's tired is the best time to perform such activities.
Before scheduling an adoption “event” at one of the pet stores, I want Lucy's walking etiquette a bit better. She needs to stop pulling on the leash and losing control when startled. That's our goal for this week.
|Both dogs have been making improvements
on walks and on their behavior in the house. Loud noises are still an
issue, affecting Sheba more than Lucy, who recovers more quickly.
Fortunately, the idiots down the street have run out of
Lucy has developed a habit of doing her business outside, and making a fuss to go out if she is inside when she has to go. Sheba isn't catching on to this as quickly, so we're still getting her outside on a regular 2-hour schedule, for the carpet's sake.
Both dogs behave when meeting other dogs who are well-balanced, and they respond well to meeting people; they are, however, somewhat timid around excited energy (children). There have been a couple of incidents where we've met a less-than-calm dog, running off leash, while on the morning walks. The pack learned quickly to stay calm and remain behind me, while I deal with the loose dog.
Lucy has learned to be gentle inside when playing with the smaller dogs.
I upped Lucy's backpack weight to a full 3-lbs, and that resulted in only 5-10 minutes of treadmill time.
Sheba's recuperating from her surgery without incident.
I've put the dogs on a mixture of canned/dry food, and introduced a twice-a-day feeding ritual that always comes as a reward for work (walking, carrying backpack, treadmill), performed, plus it helps keep them calm-submissive and helps control their weight.
|Both dogs are now developing “new” habits and displaying
responses different from those in the past. This tells me that they are
rapidly moving on from their past treatment. From this point, they will
start becoming individuals. They still have issues that stem from their
past, but these are only learned reactions to specific stimuli, not
anything like deep-seated human phobias, or other mental issues they
are simply not capable of.
Sensitivity to electrical storms is common to all dogs. Lucy and Sheba are learning (slowly) the appropriate way to react.
Lucy's behavior during walks continues to improve, as is her confidence on the treadmill. I don't think I've ever met a dog with such high energy. She will take a 2-hour walk, carrying her backpack, and 15-minutes of fast treadmill work upon returning, and she still wants to chase around roughhousing with Sheba all day long. She still plays too rough with the little dogs, but she's learning to control it in the house.
Sheba still has issues with her house manners. One has to be consistent with getting her outside every two hours to relieve herself.
This week, both dogs are learning how to behave around children, as I'm watching my Grandson Jordan all this week. That is effecting the consistency the morning walks, as Jordan can't do a 5:30 A.M., 2-HR walk. How this effects the dog's behavior will prove the necessity of consistent, daily walks. Thankfully, dogs live in the moment.
|The summer heat has exerted a calming
effect on both dogs. They prefer to spend most of their days sleeping
outside in the shade, or inside in their kennel. I've reduced the
length of the morning walk to 1-hour, with 15-minutes on the treadmill
for Lucy. This is working out well.
There have been several outbursts of fireworks in the neighborhood over the past few days. I am pleased to report that neither dog becomes overly excited or panicked by the noise. Lucy will bark once or twice but that's the extent of it.
Both dogs are doing well with meeting strangers (people, that is). They are still a little timid of them, but they do not try and find corners to hide in any longer.
Sheba's house training is also improving. Now, she comes and stares at me if she needs to go out. She seems reluctant to bark at all while inside, unless someone unknown to her comes to the door, and then, it's just once or twice, so I have to be alert to what she needs.
Lucy's behavior on walks is also improving. She rarely tries to tangle herself up in the other leashes or tripping me up by crossing in front of me. She still likes to pull a little, but the intensity has diminished greatly.
Both dogs have adapted well to the feeding ritual; each one cleans-up their own food before checking-out the other dog's dishes for leftovers.
In general, this has been a good week with them, and I'm looking forward to having some folks take a look at them for adoption.
|There's nothing like getting caught in
a cloudburst to demonstrate to your dog why you're not taking a walk on
a rainy day. That's what happened to the pack a few mornings ago. After
that, when it's raining hard, all I have to do is let the dogs out on
the porch, and with leashes in hand, they smell the air and head right
back in. Then one at a time, everyone gets 15-minutes on the treadmill
a couple of times during the day, before feeding times, and all's right
with the world.
Sheba surprised me two days ago when, while she was standing on the porch, she actually came to me and stood there while I petted her, and that without having her leash on. That's a first for her, and another step in her rehabilitation. Since then, there's competition for affection between Lucy and Sheba, as well as the other two pack members. That's how it works: two balanced dogs help two unbalanced dogs learn what normal behavior is to be like.
Lucy requires a lot of close watching and listening in the house, or she'll squat & pee with little warning. I'm hopeful that she'll start associating going outside and peeing with getting a little cookie when she comes back in. Sheba isn't quite as bad in that area, but you have to watch for the circling sniffing.
Lucy still thinks plants are her toys, and will tear them up without remorse if she's not monitored closely outside.
Both Sheba and Lucy will have to go through an initial warm up to their adopters, but, over time, as they learn that people in general will be kind to them they will be less timid around new people.
My web advertisement isn't drawing as much attention as I'd hoped. The search engines are looking at it, but they aren't interested in adopting.
As you can see from the above reports, both dogs improved a lot after just a week of working with them. At that point, I was introducing them to pack walks, other dogs and human contact. I proceeded with introducing them to as many different things, situations and experiences as I could think of. They had to learn how to react properly to all those things. Since they are both really smart, they catch-on quickly. You will notice through all these reports that I spend a lot of time getting and keeping the dogs tired out. This is a big part of rehabilitation because excessive levels of nervous energy are the major cause of most dog behavior problems. In their natural state, canid-kind spend most of their time traveling in search of food and water. That expends the energy they produce naturally which allows them to travel the way they do. So, if I don't allow the energy to build-up, they don't have to look for undesirable ways to drain it off. Try keeping an 8-year old boy locked-up inside all the time and see what happens. It's the same principle.
When we domesticated dogs and brought them into our world, we, for the most part, neglected much of their genetic programming. We provided their food and water. To some of them, we gave affection, shelter and big yards to play in. Some, we treated like surrogate children. Others, were left out in the elements, expected to protect our property and persons, while receiving little, if any affection. What we didn't realize is that they were first animals with needs peculiar to animals. Then they are dogs, which have their own peculiar subset of needs. Finally, they are a particular breed of dog, (something created by people to reduce canid-characteristics we didn't like or want while emphasising the ones we did), with an even smaller subset of needs. Put them all together, and we have our dogs. It is our responsibility to meet the needs of these creatures if we expect them to be balanced and happy members of our households.
Presently, I'm working on converting these weekly report excerpts to a web-friendly format. As I add them, I will include additional commentary and more photos. Stay tuned.
Today, 23 SEP 09, Lucy was adopted by a real nice couple from the Elk, WA area. While we here will miss her a lot, this is the cumulation of all the work I put into her rehabilitation. Yes, it was a bit sad to see her little head peaking over the bottom of the car window frame as they drove away. You know, we take these neglected and abused animals into our homes to help them and they always end up getting into our hearts, too. Nevertheless, I was also happy for her. She was on her way to her "forever home", where she will become the newest member of an established pack. Yes, a grand new adventure is just beginning for her.
Now we begin working in ernest on Sheba's deeper issues; things that Lucy's exuberance and playfulness made difficult to address.
Here we are, just 22 days into 2010 and Sheba is still with us. I haven't tried very hard to have her adopted out over the winter because bad weather would interfere with her and her new pack leader getting acquainted properly through a long walk. It's also difficult to put the finishing touches on her when I can't get her outside for our pack walks every day. Although she will walk on the treadmill, Sheba's not all that fond of it because of the noise it makes. Even so, she still spends time on it in order to expend energy and keep her tail down. I work very hard at keeping all their tails down. There can only be one raised tail around here, and that's mine.
You may have noticed that I've not added any recent reports to the dogs owners. That's because there hasn't been all that much to report. Cold and snow really cramps my efforts to finish this process with Sheba. We're making a little progress as we're having a relatively mild winter. So, in a nutshell, Sheba is still very much sight-oriented. She still spooks over loud noises and although she will submit to being held for grooming, she won't come and jump on your lap. She wants attention and loves to play and chase around, but there's something deeply-rooted that associates being held by a human with something very unpleasant. Eventually, that can be overcome, once she puts being held together with nothing bad happening to her. It will, however take a lot of time and patience. Generally her countenance is dignified and stately, if we can rightly assign such attributes to a dog. Her trouble with noises and her sight-orientation are also time and patience issues. I have seen vast improvements since last May pertaining to noise, and Sheba does sometimes imitate the other pack members when they are sniffing about in the park, or a handy fire plug. What usually happens next is an airplane will fly over or a noisy car will drive by and Sheba becomes a statue, while the others continue sniffing about.
Those are Sheba's trouble spots. Her good points are that she loves being with her pack leader. She will follow you around the house all day and then take a nice long walk on the leash. She walks right next to you, as though she's been doing it for years. She gets along with children and other dogs. She hasn't an aggressive bone in her body. She likes her treats when she comes inside after doing her business outside. She's a pretty quiet dog who knows how to use her voice to signal when she needs tending to. She doesn't yet bark to go outside. She dances for that sort of attention, so you have to stay alert. She sleeps in a kennel: it's her den and safe place. She can take about 8-hours before it becomes uncomfortable for her, as business must be done, you know. Never punish her with "place" time. Actually, "punishment" has no place in the human-dog relationship. Discipline, correction, and training are not punishment. You know what the latter is; Don't mix that up with the former.
Sheba's rehabilitation is a process that might continue for as long as a year. It's all a matter of individual commitment in continuing what I have started and seeing it through to completion. Then, we'll see her become the dog that God intended her to be.
Are you, Dear Reader, that person? If so, you know what to do next.
Just last week (week of 2-4), Sheba was adopted! So now we have two success stories.
American Eskimo Breed Information