Thursday, December 31, 2009

Daisy's New Year 2010

It's so hard to believe, but year two with my beautiful Daisy the Wonder Dog has already gone by and we are headed into year three. She has come a long ways, something made more clear to me after I reread some of my posts from my earlier days with Daisy. She was so afraid and so skittish when we first began our journey. Everything was new and frightening to her. Now, she is less frightened by every day life. She is truly an amazing dog, and she continues to inspire me every day.

Last year I listed several goals for Daisy, including...
  • Be able to eat and drink my water with my mom in the same room.
  • Continue to build up my confidence (my posture still indicates that I am not a fully confident dog yet).
  • To sit confidently and not run away in fear when Mom touches my collar.
  • Continue to be exposed to new situations so I can build my confidence.
  • Learn how to play like other dogs (with a ball or frisbee). Anything that has to be thrown scares me right now.
  • Learning the command "heel".
  • Getting better at following the command "come"
  • Become more comfortable being left at home on my own for a few hours (I am much better than I used to be).
  • Be okay with having my picture taken (this one may take awhile).
Little did I know at that time how much progress we would make and how far we would still have to go. Nor could I know that just a few months later I would be adopting a new dog, a Sheltie named Jasper. He has brought a lot of changes to Daisy's life, mostly good and a few not so good.

The Progress!
Daisy still eats in her kennel, (it's still very much her safety spot) but she is no longer afraid to eat in my presence. She still doesn't like to drink in front of me, probably because it requires her to have her back to me, but she isn't afraid to go get water when she needs it.

Daisy is getting more confident - both in herself, and her ability to handle new situations, and in me. She still continues to be overwhelmed in new situations or where there are a lot of people around, so I try to expose her to new places and situations on a regular basis. Her new Thundershirt (I'll talk more about the Thundershirt in a future post) has helped her to be calmer in new situations, but she is still a work in progress.

Daisy is also no longer afraid of me touching her collar. This is mostly because I have added a new routine to our day. Every day when we return from the dog park, or from a walk, I remove her collar for the day. When we get ready to leave for the dog park in the morning, I put it back on her. There are two reasons I do this, 1) to get Daisy to associate me putting her collar on with something good (namely, the dog park or a walk - something she really enjoys), and 2) to increase the number of times I touch her collar thus turning it into a non-event. It really seems to be working too. Daisy now comes to me so I can put her collar on in the morning! I'd say that's progress indeed!

While Daisy has not yet learned to play like other dogs by chasing a ball or a frisbee, she has learned to play. I witnessed it this summer while I was mowing the front yard. Daisy and Jasper were in the back yard hanging out when suddenly she began taunting him with a rope bone. She started prancing around with it in her mouth, daring Jasper to try and get it, and when he did, she played tug-of-war with him. I couldn't have been more surprised. It was one of the coolest moments in my time with Daisy. She has started doing this at the dog park too, only using a stick in place of a rope bone. Go Daisy Go!

Daisy is also more comfortable being at home now. Jasper is her constant companion and pal and she seems to be less lonely having him here with her. At one time this summer, Jasper stayed with my mom and her Sheltie, Jake, for a few days and Daisy missed him immensely.

The Work Ahead
We're still working on being more comfortable around cameras. I fear I may have scarred her for life on this one :( I continue to use my camera around her; hoping that continued exposure will lessen the fear she associates with it. In fact, just this December she let me take some shots of her and didn't try to run away or turn away from it in fear. One of the photos is at the top of this post.

Daisy is not yet able to walk beside me while on leash or at the dog park, but she is starting to be more comfortable being out ahead of me if Jasper is on leash next to her. Unfortunately, Jasper himself is hindering her progress at the dog park - this is something that I will write about in a future post.

So, as you can see, we are a work in progress - both Daisy and me. We continue to make progress, and that is something to be celebrated and enjoyed! I will continue to share Daisy's progress (and my insights and ideas on what works or doesn't work with a puppy mill dog) throughout 2010. I hope you will cheer Daisy's progress along with me this next year!


  1. Such a very touching story. Thanks for all the good you do.

  2. Thanks MMShepherds. I don't know that I always know what I am doing, but I am constantly working to figure it out!