Thursday, February 25, 2010

Simply Not Simple

The dynamics are amazing. Dogs obviously are not the simple creatures they are made out to be. How exciting about Bonita!!! I wonder if an antihistamine would sooth the itching. It seems crazy to me that your neighbor lady is so devoted to the dogs yet does not want to touch them.

Happy birthday to Kirt!!!!!

The above is taken from comments to Everybody Needs A Spot. Good idea, Miss Vet, what do you recommend, dosage.  Thanks, I'll let you know how it works out. I have seen a lot of skin conditions. I forget what is what, but it didn't take us too long to figure out it was this wicked vine after a couple of our friends got into it helping us clean up the place. Our one friend just kept saying, "It's intense." So this was a large clue. Our neighbor lady probably does not know what is causing the dermatitis; she just doesn't want to get it. And as inconceivable as it is, not everybody likes to pet dogs as much as we do.
Bonita's moment at the party was just that a moment. How many moments must she have before she can overcome an intrinsic fear? Sometimes the enormity of what this pup has to overcome staggers me. The first six months she was never touched; any idea how screwed up a human child would be without touch. That is not a fair apple to apples comparison, but still. I've counseled people with dogs that hadn't been socialized to this or that; there's always a thread you can connect through. People have kicked her, so her only thread is what we're doing now. I have always wondered how firm the imprint period is with remedial counseling, now is the opportunity to find out.
My fallback position with a dog has always been to strengthen my relationship with the dog so that pleasing me is more important than anything. In order for that to work the dog has to trust you completely; hmm no cigar on that one.
It is our understanding of dogs that is simple. We put our energies into training them or getting them to fit into our chaos. We consciously recognize few of our friends' body language signals. Our dogs are way better at knowing our body language than we are theirs; why is that?
So many of my responses to the dog's signals are subliminal, the other day Bonita just stood in front of me, tail wagging. I looked at her without thinking I said, "Okay, I'll get you something." I realized that I must be responding to her because when she did it my mind was far away. What would draw me out of deep thought to say that to the dog? What was the look or combination that caused me to respond? I'll bet you know the look. We are trained to it by those poor simple creatures.
The social life these dogs appear to have is nothing I would have imagined. A few years ago a woman who worked for me said, "I thought I knew dogs before, but I knew nothing." Very often being here makes me feel like that. It's humbling.
As interesting as these guys are, the dog problem here is horrific. This island is blessed with some great people who rescue dogs. Tomorrow I will be doing my first interview of the dog saviors of Puerto Rico.


  1. Benadryl or it's generic form is usually dosed around 1mg/lb in dogs. It can be give up to 3 times daily. I would stay on the lower side as it can cause some drowsiness. If it is the nasty plant making them itch I would think an antihistamine would help. Hopefully brings them some relief. Is that Bonita in the picture? Much different looking pup then before.

    An idea for working with Bonita... I have had very impressive results using negative reinforcement with objects that cause fear. Why couldn't you do this with yourself? Just an idea.

    Dogs, humbling? Thank God for that.

  2. Upon closer inspection... definately a mama dog, not Bonita. The vet student is again humbled by the canine...