Monday, July 19, 2010

Daisy and that old Body Language

It's funny how you can forget what your puppy mill dog used to be like when she starts to act more like a "normal" dog. This week I was reminded of the old Daisy and some of her old body language by two things: 1) seeing some pictures of a dog that a friend will be fostering, and 2) when Daisy was frightened by a very large BOOM!!! while out in the backyard last night.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, when I first got Daisy she used to walk low to the ground, like she was slinking along in fear (of course, she WAS in fear at that time). She also avoided eye contact at all times. I could sit down right in front of her and she would have averted her eyes or turned her head for fear she would have to look at me. Poor girl.

She doesn't do that anymore, but seeing my friend's new foster dog's pictures reminded me of how she used to walk, and how she used to shut down and just lay on her side, waiting for you to do something to her. I never knew what that "something" was but I knew it was not something she liked.

She used to display other behaviors as well - something she has not done in a while now. When the old Daisy was frightened by something, her body would become taut with fear. Ears back. Eyes wide as they swept around the yard or house looking for an escape route.

The loud noise last night brought back all these old behaviors like they had never left. In the past, when something really frightened Daisy, she would run first, tail tucked between her legs. Then she would stop, look around wildly, and then start to pace. Back and forth. Back and forth.

Seeing her reaction last night, brought back a lot of memories because Daisy reverted to a lot of her old behaviors, something I have not seen in a long time. Of course, I took her inside immediately so she could run to her kennel; her "safe spot."

I expected she would be in her kennel most of the night, but a few minutes later she came out into the living room and jumped up onto the couch next to me. Usually when she does this she will lay down on her side and stretch her back legs out so I can give her a belly rub. But not last night. Last night, she curled up tightly in the corner of the couch with her paws tucked under her body and face pressed down on the couch cushion.  She made herself as small as possible. It's always been her way of coping. All the old behaviors.

When I moved to rub her belly, she did not stretch out as she usually does, but instead she remained curled up tight, paws tucked under her, head down. I just continued to rub her back and talk softly to her. In the past, this would have made her more nervous, but not now. Despite exhibiting all her old behaviors, Daisy began to relax. This new Daisy knows that her mom will protect her and keep her safe. I love that.

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