January 29th 2012 8:59 pm
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I'm such a newbie that I just figured out we have diaries here! LOL! Okay, where to start?
Luke has been with us for almost a month and I have to say that I haven't once regretted my decision to adopt from a shelter. I got some heat for it from a few people that swore shelter dogs had all sorts of issues, that they were mutts, they had behavioral issues, trust issues, yada, yada, yada. Truth be told, I had all of that rattling around in my head as I walked the rows of kennels. Also rattling around was the fear of a puppy. I had NO plans of training a puppy while my human children were still so small. I honestly thought our Bailey would be with us for maybe another 5-8 years. So, this was not in my grand plan. If all this wasn't enough, we were getting a big dog, which was another new thing for me. So, needless to say, I was nervous. I didn't want to mess this up so I became obsessed with reading and learning all I could. I didn't want to be the reason that Luke didn't work out. I didn't want to fail him or the kids by not training him properly or taking care of him properly. I read all I could on nutrition for large breed puppies. I grilled the vet, the trainer, unsuspecting dogster members :-). For almost 4 weeks, I've been on Luke's butt with the training - never letting things slide and never giving in. Part of me is aware that my drive is partly fear. Fear that I would be the weak link in all this.
So, where have we ended up after 4 weeks? Hmmm. Luke will sit for his food bowl and hold a stay until given permission to eat. He's so consistent that the kids now take turns feeding him with my supervision. He is potty trained but we're working on the poop eating thing. Ewwww. He will sit for any treat (nothing is for free) and we are working on "lay down" and some sort of recall for him. His mouthing is under control but far from perfect. Gloves still drive him nuts and when he's outside and in full play mode, he can forget his manners. He can walk on a leash but still needs correction especially when we are somewhere new. He loves other dogs and is always looking to play. He went from chewing everything in sight to obeying the "leave it" command fairly regularly - all bets are off if the kids have the Playdoh out. he loves eating that stuff. He just earned the right to spend the night upstairs without a crate and he's learning well. He's filled out nicely, allows me to bathe him, brush his teeth, and check his paws. He even lets me rub the webbing between his toes. Since I switched him to Diamond Naturals, he hasn't had the foul gas that he seemed to have on Wellness. Not sure if it was the Wellness or just his body getting used to good food but he was a stinky butt for a while there. I was warned by the shelter that he may be able to jump our 6 foot fence so I watched him like a hawk for the first week. After that, it became pretty obvious that he had no intention of leaving his new home and I relaxed a little. I still supervise him but don't feel the need to freeze out in the cold while he romps in the snow. I can now just sit by the window with my hot coffee! Even when I open the door, he has no desire to pass me and run out. He stands right by my knee to check out what's happening, but nothing more than that.
Everyone in the house seems to have a hand in Luke's "training", although 99% of the real training still falls to me. But, I commend the family for having goals. :-) My daughter has made it her life's mission to teach Luke how to "shake paws". My son's mission is to get Luke to wait at the bottom of his Hot Wheels track, fetch the cars and bring them back to him. My husband just wants Luke to be a guy dog and quit following Mama all over the place. Nice try, honey. Not happening.
I'm thrilled with Luke and he's the perfect addition to our family. I admit it was a lot more work than I anticipated but it was also so much more rewarding than I imagined. The feeling when the training started to click...amazing. Including the kids in the training was a great idea too because they are getting confident around him. My son has warmed up to Luke a lot and even asks Luke to sit with him to watch cartoons. My daughter brushes his coat and cuddles with him on the couch. He's blended into the family so easily that I truly feel like I hit the lottery with him. We are lucky to have him in our lives and I'm grateful that we dragged our behinds all the way to Indianapolis that snowy day. Luke wasn't listed on any website. We weren't looking for him. I didn't even know that shelter existed until that afternoon. But there he was. Just waiting for us to show up and bring him home. To his forever home.
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