Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Daisy's First Goal for 2009
Daisy and I are going stir crazy. The weather is so cold here right now that going outside is not something anyone wants to do if they don't have to. As a result, we have been stuck inside for the past 3 days. In fact, yesterday Daisy was only outside a few minutes when her feet froze. It happened so quickly. One minute she was lifting her back paw because it was cold and then suddenly she was sitting on her butt in the snow with both of her back feet stuck up in the air. It was a funny sight to see, but for her it was anything but. Poor girl! We went inside immediately.
Monday was the only day this week it was warm enough for Daisy to go to the dog park. We enjoyed the day by hanging out with her doggie friends and playing in the falling snow. Daisy was so excited to see her friend Brutus. She immediately went to him hoping he would chase her through the woods. Unfortunately, he had his eyes on another dog (Alas! Unrequited love!). I actually think she was disappointed!
Luckily, the other dog didn't stay long (sometimes a 110-lb. Rottweiler can be intimidating, even if he still acts like a puppy), so Brutus was finally able to turn his attention onto my little girl blue. She couldn't have been happier. They chased each other all over the park - flying over shrubs, weaving in between trees and hiding behind evergreens. Several times Daisy would stop to let Brutus catch up to her, then as soon as he made a move towards her, she was off again! At one point she actually slipped through a tight space between two trees; leaving Brutus behind to figure out how he was going to get through that small space! It was quite funny.
I love seeing Daisy leave my side to go off to play with friends. It warms my heart, because it means she's gaining confidence in herself. She's learning that she doesn't always have to be near me; that she can have fun and come back to me if she needs to, even if only to check in. Although I'm not a mom in the traditional sense of the word, I imagine a mom feels just as proud when she sees her child taking his first steps. It is so thrilling!
You would think all that fun and excitement would be enough for one day. Not for Daisy! Monday evening Daisy decided to surprise me by tackling item #1 on her list of goals for 2009.
We had been busy pretty much all day long, so I think she was hungry by the time dinnertime rolled around. I asked her, "Are you hungry?" Oh boy! Was she! She bounced around and paced excitedly while I filled her dish. I set her food on the floor in the living room (I'll explain this later) fully expecting that she would continue to pace and bounce around until I left the room. But I wanted to lower the blinds in the bay window first. As I was doing so, I suddenly heard Daisy nosing around in her food bowl and then I heard her chewing her food. I froze, unsure of what to do. Should I stay still until she was done? Would I scare her if I moved? This was an absolute first for her. She had never eaten in front of me before.
I decided to act normal and lower each of the blinds while not making too much of a big deal about her eating in front of me. Absolutely amazing.
You see, one of behavioral side effects of living in a puppy mill is that Daisy doesn't trust people easily. She especially does not like it when people are behind her, or approach her too quickly or too forcefully. This fear has transferred over to her eating ritual.
When I first brought Daisy home I tried to feed her in the kitchen along with my other dog, Aspen. But, no matter how hard I tried to reassure her, I could not convince her to come and eat her food. With some experimentation, I discovered that she felt safer eating when her food was in a room separate from me (or any human being in this case). So, we settled on the living room as her "safe spot" for breakfast and dinner. And, while she seemed to be okay if Aspen was in the living room with her while she was eating, she was not okay if I entered the room. If I did so, she would run away from her dish until I once again left the room. Once I was gone, she would return to her dish and eat her food, albeit much more tentatively and cautiously. She often kept a close eye on my movements after that.
So, imagine my surprise when suddenly, out of the blue, she decided to eat with me in the same room! It was a shock. It wasn't until that moment that I realized she's been slowly working towards this very moment. Over the past few months she has been less and less fearful about me being in another room while she is eating. In the past, I always had to be in the kitchen, so she could keep an eye on me (at all times). Recently, she has been less skittish about where I am in the house (as long as it wasn't the living room). If I walked through the living room on my way to another room in the house, she would still back away from her food dish, but as soon as I was gone she was back at her dish eating her food - even if it meant I was in a room behind her. Now, for the first time, she was comfortable enough to eat with me in the same room. What an amazing dog.
It makes me wonder... How long until she tackles another goal on her list? Stay tuned! :)