Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Yin The Yang

Did you ever get a big smack in the head and then think; I should have seen that one coming. This is a major DUH, tears are flowing like the rain today. Yes, get to the point.

A massive low cost sterilization day might bring in dogs with fleas on an island where it never freezes. The second day post op Blondie and Bonita have gone from scratching to scratching and chewing. A slight change in behavior that upon inspection, OMG. Fleas!

Spent the morning P.O.'ed at myself for not being proactive on that, while preparing to go to the animal control officers meeting in Vega Alta. Puerto Rico is predicted to have rain for the week. Before we can leave the girls need antibiotics and the Benadryl, which had greatly decreased the scratching pre operatively. Thank you, Mel.

Early research on imprint periods lead me to believe that the socialization door was more closed that what I think I am beginning to see with Bonita. Her post op back slide with trust/fear issues is reversing. It’s like the puppy in class doing rather well, when it hits that plateau where memory cannot be found. You start over, and then miraculously, the dog is back to where it was only better.

Bonita is giving a different eye contact; it isn't the I don't trust you look. Today her body language signals that she wants to trust me, but can't quite get it together. During our morning greeting ritual, as Stormy and Blondie circle around me taking turns for petting and thumping, Bonita is jumping up with the front legs and a lot of low wags. She got excited enough to get in the mix. When my hand stroked her side, she jumped back a few inches then began wagging and jumping just out of reach. She got closer again, but not enough that I could touch her twice. To me she looked like she wanted more, but just could not take the step. That makes me so happy because that's progress.

My pre op socialization plan was to just habituate her to friendly humans. She stays mostly on our veranda, so as we come & go she learned our non-threatening body language.

Quick to detect the change in b. language when we loaded her, I was just a step or two ahead of her, loading was swift & smooth. My husband, Kirt and I have done this for a life time, so they were in the crates before they knew what happened.

So far I have not invested much time in working with Bonita. Short little sessions with the crazy woman have produced results. I sing and dance something I don't do in public, Bonita looks with curiosity; take step forward, one step back do the hokey pokey. Dogs love silly behavior.

The Pet Vet said that the girls had a little bit, her words, of sarcoptic mange and a funganal skin infection, now with the fleas Bonita is about to get some handling starting Monday.

I think she is ready to be flooded with stimuli. I have never worked with a street dog that had not been touched, only kicked or ignored, so if anybody has input please.
Mel has suggested negative reinforcement games in which I toss Bonita a treat away from me when she comes close to me. That's what I'll use after we've had a handling session, aka bath tomorrow.

One more Bonita note, she loves the crate used to transport her to the vet. She sleeps in it, rather hard wired for dens, huh.

More to follow on animal control in Puerto Rico.


  1. Glad that Bonita's trusting you more! It is utterly amazing to me how forgiving dogs can be. I wish I could forgive like them. I'm anxious to hear how the negative reinforcement works for her! Good luck!

  2. "Short little sessions with the crazy woman have produced results. I sing and dance something I don't do in public, Bonita looks with curiosity; take step forward, one step back do the hokey pokey. Dogs love silly behavior."

    I love this! Brings back memories of a "crazy" dog trainer that was always trying to get me to be more silly and fun and less serious. It brought tears to my eyes, because now I'm one of those "crazy" dog trainer ladies trying to convince my own students to be less serious and more fun. Lesson from a very wise friend, one of the best.

    One of the first moments after getting Shaker home that I felt a connection with him... I was singing him a silly song with a little wiggle. He ate it up. I knew he'd seen and heard that one before.