Posts by Foster Dog

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Aggie Update, December 18, 2011

Sweet, sweet Aggie. :)

Learning to trust, learning to accept love and affection and the pack hierarchy. Learning manners and working through different situations

These are all things we've been working on for the last few months. And we're making progress.

Of all the dogs Randall and I have fostered, Aggie is one of the ones whose backstory I'd really like to know. If only because it would help me figure out what makes her tick. She was obviously a pet, but what was her situation? No way to know, so we're figuring it out as we go along.

When Aggie first came here we really thought she was deaf. As the months have spun out, we've come to realize that's not strictly true. She does hear. And it appears she can hear maybe 30% to 40%...especially if there isn't something going on that's seriously distracting her or thrown her into a panic. She will turn around and look at you if you're across the room and you start talking to her. She hears knocks on the glass at the back door. She can hear you call her name. I think a lot of it was that initially our words were just noise she heard. Now that she's been here a while, she realizes those noises have meaning.

It would still take someone with patience and understanding to adopt her, but her handicap isn't NEARLY as bad as we first thought.

There are a couple of complaints I have...things we're working on, but have yet to make the sort of progress I want.

First. Her relationship with other dogs. Aggie doesn't understand body language. This makes it VERY difficult for her when she tries to interact with other dogs. Her main problem is she runs up to them with her mouth open. Understandably, that's very threatening to other dogs, and they react accordingly. She means absolutely nothing by it and it's not really an attempt to bite or attack, but it caused real problems at first. It still can if the other dog isn't expecting it, but most everyone here now has figured out this is an Aggie-ism and means nothing. Randall and I still work on shutting that behavior down, but since she can't hear corrections, this is taking longer than I would like. I am particularly careful with her and Padre because of his insecurity issues.

Second. Is related to the first. She is very mouthy. Particularly when there's food involved. You do NOT let her get hold of your finger when you're passing out tidbits. I can't tell you the number of times she's come close to skinning my finger down to the bone or trying to detach it from my hand. Interestingly, there's absolutely nothing vicious here. She just seems to not understand that your fingers aren't part of the treats. There are times when she'll take something very gently from you. I don't know why it happens, and I'm trying to encourage it, but it's a rare thing and I never count on it.

Aggie still nibbles all fingers that appear at her level. This is less of a problem because there's no food there. She'll mouth you, but only until she realizes there's no food. So call it a second or two and she never bares down. Sometimes those nibbles turn immediately to little kisses, so it's pretty obvious her intent is to "taste" your hand. :)

One place she's made really good strides is in being picked up. She's still not fond of the trip up or down, but there is a whole lot less struggling than at first. I'd say she's about 80% of where I'd like her to be. Some of it appears to be that she doesn't like anything pressing or binding her belly because I can "tickle-tickle-tickle" her and she'll jump around. She also really seems to have fun with that, so it's kind of a conundrum. We're having fun with one thing, but it's causing some confusion in another area.

When the lifting is combined with sitting next to you on the sofa (something she's learned to really enjoy) or sitting in your lap, things are just dandy with her. While she's never climbed into my lap, she's coming closer, and I suspect in a few weeks she'll get there. Probably if I bribed her with food it would happen today, but I want this to be her decision driven by her need to be with me...not just to grab another treat.

Last week was the first time she'd had her toenails clipped. She's had baths, but I kept putting off the nails because I knew it would panic her and since she can't hear, reassurance can be tough. She actually handled the procedure pretty well. She got a treat after each foot, and since Aggie is VERY food motivated, it went pretty smoothly. Randall held her while I did the trimming, and since he was the food dispenser, she followed him around very focused for the remainder of the day.

She's also learning some social skills when it comes to other people. She tends to be fearful of new situations, but you can tell she wants to please her people, and she wants to be with them, so she sort of steels herself and pushes on through so she can be with you. This is relatively new, and it's promising because it tells me she's looking to her people now as opposed to avoiding uncomfortable situations. I expect more of this from her as time goes one.

All in all, Aggie is really a much braver girl than when she first came her. She's better adjusted emotionally. She's learned that her people do good things and being a part of those good things can be rewarding.

So could she be adopted? Absolutely. She's very quiet (related to the deafness), she's crate trained and gets along well with cats. I would not recommend children (at least not young ones; maybe teens), and I'd be very cautious bringing her into a house with another dog. If the adopter is dog savvy and understand the deafness handicap and has a well adjusted dog, it could work.

The longer she's here with us, the more she'll learn, so the recommendations could be updated as we move along down the road.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a few photos. Like I said with Padre's update, I've not had the camera out too much lately, so these photos are at least a week or so old and there aren't as many as I would like.

Aggie in the wire crate we borrowed for Padre. It's now "her" crate.

There was much discontent that the Halloween pumpkin wasn't particularly edible.

The kitchen is always interesting, but the food prep area is REALLY interesting.