Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Daisy - A Day At A Time

Daisy and I picked up her friend Henry this morning and headed off to the dog park. The warm temperatures and this morning's rain have made the park a slushy and slippery mess. If you weren't dodging water puddles, you were fighting to stay upright. I am always amazed at how the dogs manage to keep their feet under them when it's like this. How do they do it?

Perhaps it's because they don't care how wet they get or how muddy their paws are (even when they get into the car!). They're focused on two things: playing and sniffing. Not a bad way to live your life I guess. But, I think I could skip the butt sniffing!

Daisy had a bit of fun with her friend, Brutus, formerly a 110-lb. Rottweiler, now a 118-lb. Rottweiler. She loves Brutus. He chased her through the woods and out into the field and through a huge puddle of god knows what. Her tail was up and she appeared to be smiling. She loves Brutus. Seeing her that happy always makes my day.

Later on, we went to the pet food store to pick up her dog food. I never know how Daisy will react when she goes someplace new with me. Sometimes she is okay and other times she is nervous and reverts to her old, fearful behavior of hiding behind me, slinking down, low to the ground, and freezing. Today's trip was an example of the latter. Usually she perks up when she is offered a treat - which she never refuses by the way - but, today she was a little more uncertain. I reassured her, but kept her moving so she didn't have time to dwell on her fears. 

I've been really focusing on helping Daisy to adjust to new situations and to build her confidence when she is in the house or out with me. Recently, I met a great lady in Missouri who has a lot of experience in rehabilitating puppy mill dogs (she took in 7 Australian Shepherds at one time!). What a blessing it is to talk to Carolyn and get her advice and help on helping to rehabilitate Daisy. She has several videos on YouTube that demonstrate the work she has done with her dogs (I've included some of them in the Links section on my blog). Her hard work and dedication is quite impressive.

Thanks to Carolyn's advice, I have been working with Daisy on a daily basis to help her build her confidence - something we're focused on for 2009. One of the things that Daisy does when she hears the command "Come" is to approach me from the side or from the back. She has a really hard time approaching me from the front. She seems to feel less threatened if she can circle around me and come to me from my side. I am not sure what the puppy mill owner did to cause such fear, but we have been working on it. 

We do a lot of practicing "come" using all her favorite treats as a reward. And, we are making progress (Yay!). Daisy would  still prefer to approach me from my side, but by shortening the space between her and I when I ask her to come; I have been able to get her to approach me straight on. We still have work to do, but it is so encouraging to see her becoming less cautious when approaching me straight on. I am noticing a difference in her confidence level at the dog park too. As I have mentioned before, Daisy usually walks very close behind me, almost touching my leg at all times. When she feels safe, she will break out and go play with her friends. I love it when she does this - there is so much joy and happiness expressed in those few moments.  Well, over the past couple of weeks she has been going off on her own, or off with her friends, more and more. I think it's because of all the work we have been doing. It is very encouraging to see her confidence build. Go Daisy Go!

I will continue to keep you posted on our progress!
And, for all those who rescue puppy mill dogs, it is possible to give them a good life. For them to live (to some capacity) a normal life. Like Daisy. it is a day at a time.

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