Thursday, February 26, 2009

Daisy - A Week of Firsts

The past week and a half has been busy with a lot of "firsts" for Daisy.

Last week we had Daisy's dog park buddy, Sasha, staying with us. Sasha is a wonderful and affectionate yellow Lab who has a beautiful and calming personality. Her presence did wonders for Daisy while she was with us. 

Sasha is one of Daisy's favorite doggie friends. As soon as she sees her, she runs up to her all excited, bouncing around in excitement, tail wagging, and touches her nose. It's very cute! I think she kind of admires Sasha because she is confident and demonstrates a lot of knowledge on how to be a dog.  Daisy looks to her for clues on how to be a "Wonder Dog" and Lab. She watches what she does very closely and mimics her. Having her so close by all week meant that Daisy could watch her up close. It turned out to be a very good thing!

So what were Daisy's "firsts"?

  • On the way to the dog park last Wednesday, Daisy actually nudged me for a pet. For someone who has never worked with a puppy mill dog this might not seem like such a big thing, but trust me, it is a VERY big thing. Daisy has never learned that simple gesture nor has she had the confidence to make the move to ask for a pet. But, in the car on the way to the dog park, Daisy asked for a pet. I was thrilled! Sasha has already influenced her!
  • Daisy also attempted to go after a tennis ball and pick it up for the very first time. All week, Daisy watched as Sasha chased and retrieved a tennis ball that I threw for her. Having never played like a normal dog, Daisy has never really understood this whole fascination that dogs have with retrieving a ball. In fact, she usually has run away from the tennis ball in fear. Until last week...that's when I threw the ball for Sasha.  Daisy actually ran after it and picked it up first! Of course, she dropped it right afterwards so Sasha could get it, but it was a huge step. It means she wanted to play. 
  • One thing that Daisy has always been afraid of is the vacuum. She will either hide in her kennel or run into the farthest room from where I am vacuuming. But, Sasha is more laissez-faire about the whole thing. She just lies in the same room waiting for you to finish. If she needs to move to get out of the way of the vacuum, she does so, but not in fear or in a big hurry. She simply gets up and moves somewhere else and lays down. Daisy seemed to be perplexed by this behavior. Her first thought was to run and hide, but after watching Sasha, she decided to hang out on the couch in the SAME room as the vacuum, while it was on. That to me was probably the most amazing of all. Who knew that having Sasha around would help her with that?
  • Finally, Daisy had her first bath in the bathtub. I've been wanting to do this for awhile, but I was afraid of what her reaction would be. Last summer, I gave her a couple of baths in her outdoor kiddie pool. She might not have liked it, but it was an open space and she didn't feel as threatened, so she was less stressed out about the ordeal. I could also let her run off her fear before bringing her back to the pool to finish. But, in a tub she would have to contend with running water, a confined space and a hairdryer. The bath itself went fairly well - she did shut down a bit (not that uncommon with a puppy mill dog - they tend to curl up on themselves and freeze in fear) and she jumped out of the tub once after being soaped up, but otherwise it was not as bad as I expected. She definitely hated being toweled off.  But, the hairdryer was the scariest part for Daisy. She was absolutely terrified. I was able to get the drying process started, but decided to stop before she was dry. It was just too traumatic and I didn't want to have her regress in her progress. I think she was relieved. Poor girl! Now that the first bath is done, I think we will continue with the indoor baths, even in the summer. My hope is that she will become accustomed to the process over time.
The best part of this past week and a half is that Daisy has continued to make progress. Even the fear over taking a bath in the bathtub has not stopped her progress! At the dog park she displays a new confidence. She is more outgoing and more likely to engage another dog in some fun. Hard to believe it's already been a year. My Daisy Dog has made so much progress. I can't wait to see what she does next!

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