Wonder of wonders…

As I have said before, I analyze so much, my mind never stops moving. Of course, I’ve been constantly analyzing my new boy, Rudy. He’s been wonderful, by the way. The first day by himself, I came home from work and found nothing out of place, except for a few pillows thrown off my loveseat, and the blinds pushed back a little. Nothing torn up and no messes. He hadn’t gone out for a number of hours, so I knew he had to ‘go’. He met me at the door with his ball poised and ready to go outside. He had to play ball for a good 20 minutes before he would even THINK about going potty. What a good boy!

I talked to someone about some of his issues and the challenges I have ahead in helping him get past them. The first one is walking on a leash. He’s insecure as heck! Couple that with being one very smart, energetic cattle dog, and you have a problem with walking on a leash. For some reason, he feels more secure if he can look into your eyes. The first day I took him for his first walk. He spent much of the time walking backwards, trying to gaze into my eyes. He walked in front of me, and every time I tried to direct him to the side, he got agitated and started jumping and nipping. He got my leg once, which is healing now. He didn’t mean to hurt me, but still it can’t be ignored. From that point on, I made him sit down on the spot, when he started jumping at me. I wouldn’t let him continue again until he let me step out first, with him at my side. Since his weakness is being able to see my face, I decided the best thing is to insist he be at my side, while NOT looking at him at all. Everything I did from that point on was seen peripherally by myself. My hand guided and praised from that point. The only time I let him look into my eyes was when he did good on the leash. It’s only been 2 days, and he’s already making wonderful progress!! Once I get him to walk semi-normally, and he has a little more confidence with the situation, then the “heel” command and action will be introduced. Not until he’s more confident about the walk and secure in letting me do the leading. His old family friend stopped by today while I was at work. It was prearranged that he come into the house while I was gone, and spend time with Rudy. I told him where Rudy’s leash was, and the two of them took a walk together. I told the man what I’ve been doing, and recommended that he continue during the walk, should Rudy start acting up. The man raved about how good Rudy did! He said, “I was told that Rudy was horrible on a leash. I don’t think he’s gone for walks on a leash, much. Rudy did great! He walked right with me without any trouble!” Exactly what I wanted to hear 🙂

The biggest challenge is his fear of cars. Not in general, but getting into one to go for a ride. I’ve never seen a dog so afraid to get into a car, in my life! Every time he had to go to the vet, for instance, he’s been strong-armed into the car. He’s been forced to leave his home, to do whatever…even for a short time. The fact that it was forced, and he was all but tackled down, has built fear and distrust in this poor baby. The fear in this dog is so bad, that he’s bitten people for forcing him into a car. My goal is to relieve this debilitating anxiety he has, and turn car rides into something he loves! I see stops for kid-sized ice cream cones in his future this summer 🙂 But first, he has to be able to get in the car on his own. I have a game plan for this, but I’ll just be “winging” it, as I’m really not sure how I’m going to tackle this one. His nails are badly overgrown and he’s having no part of letting me trim them. He’s in need of a bath and he’s severely overweight, at approximately 100 lbs. He’s a larger mid-sized dog, and he should weigh between 55 and 65 lbs. He’s too heavy for me to lift into the tub right now and he’s sure as heck not going in willingly! I need to get him to the groomers for a good once-over.

Like I said in the beginning of this post; I’ve been analyzing my new friend. I talked to someone about his issues and my challenges regarding them. As I was describing Rudy’s problems to this person, I realized that he and I are fighting the same problems! Anxiety about certain scenarios…a type of PTSD. Distrust and insecurity. I see these things as debilitating to my boy, as they are robbing him of so much more that is available to him. Things that would excite him, like camping or just riding in the car across town. The insecurity surrounding the leash is being rectified. He knows I haven’t disappeared, just because he can’t see my face at all times. He’s settling down, now, in that regard.

Even though this isn’t the most ‘ideal’ home for him, I believe very much that God knew exactly what we both needed. In helping Rudy get past his anxiety, distrust and insecurity, I am learning things about myself, too. All Rudy needs is a firm (not at all mean) loving hand, someone to play ball with, and LOTS OF PRAISE. He needs to know that he’s important and loved. I’m seeing a dog that I have never met, though I’ve known Rudy for years. I hear my friend’s words about him, describing him as uncontrollable and stubborn. That he needed to “settle down”. He’s not a lap-dog, though he loves attention. He’s an Australian Shepherd. Energetic and smart. A working dog. Lack of stimulation creates those unwanted behaviors. In walking him at least once per day, I’m also getting exercise that I’ve been avoiding like the plague. At night, I run his rear-end off, throwing his beloved ball.

A sad situation brought Rudy to me. He was orphaned by the death of his ‘Momma’. She (my friend’s mother) and my friend talked about her wishes for her dogs, before she died. My friend’s mother asked her if I would want to take Rudy. my friend asked me, Friday, after she passed away. I didn’t think taking a dog in would be fair to the dog, prior to this. I thought about it and craved it, but reasoned myself out of it. I agreed to ask my landlord, thinking she wouldn’t ever approve, and she was ok with my having Rudy.

He’s become quite the miracle for me.

Tailspin averted.

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9 thoughts on “Wonder of wonders…

  1. Melanie

    He sounds like a great dog who just needed some patience and love. Good luck with the fear of cars. I know you’ll help him get past it. He’ll see that he can trust you, and it will get better.

      1. Melanie

        Sure thing. The only trick I know is to put cheese in the car. Maybe make a “bread crumbs” trail of cheese squares leading to and into the car. I haven’t met a dog yet who doesn’t love cheese.

  2. I love this! My dog was also afraid of the car because she remembered her annual visit to the vet. She really could remember from year to year. I started by taking her for a car ride around the block. Eventually, we traveled from Arizona to Yellowstone, twice. She was an awesome traveling companion.

    I am so happy for you and proud of you for teaching your new friend healthier habits. He is extremely smart and will learn fast. Miss B, my dog, was so smart it was scary sometimes. She was part Australian Shepherd.

    One of Miss B’s favorite games that didn’t wear me out so much was playing hide and go seek. I’d hide a treat or a toy, and she had to go find it. It was a good mental game for her.

    Have fun!

    1. How did you get her into the car? That’s the first obstacle. He’s ok coming to the car, for just a second, then he puts a wide space between himself and my car. Hide and go seek sounds like a great game to introduce! You had 2 very smart breeds mixed into one 🙂 Miss B sounds like she was quite the character, and very sweet!

  3. Bribery. Actually, we practiced getting in and out of the car without going anywhere. I also created a routine. When her car harness went on, it was time to go for a ride, usually some place fun. However, when it was vet time, she knew a full half mile before we got there. She was an amazing creature. I always called her my angle from God, a physical reminder of His unconditional love for me.

    1. Last night after work, I sat in the car with the door open, while playing ball with him. I called him to me while holding the ball and he put his front half on my lap a couple of times, then realized what he was doing. He, once again, put that 10 foot distance between him and the car. A friend from work is letting me borrow her horse training lead for a while, to hopefully assist the training and reconditioning of my dog. I needed something very long that wouldn’t impede his “ball playing” time, while having control. I have a plan, though it’s a kind of shaky one, at best. Here’s hoping!

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