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Ninja Dog Rehab

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And So it Began

June 23rd 2013 10:31 am
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No one really knows what happened to me when I was a puppy, just that I was surrendered "for excessive barking" with my sister.

It's speculated that we were supposed to be hunting dogs, but we just didn't make the cut so we were left alone in a yard all day without human contact before we were finally given up.

We were rescued before even a month with animal services had passed, fixed up and given all the medical care we needed and then sent to fosters. My sister went to live with a family and other dogs in a home and I was sent to a dog daycare/boarding place.

I didn't mind it so much, I liked the people. They were all very nice, fed me, gave me attention but I mostly liked the dogs. I started off with the older less playful dogs when I was more nervous, but soon I was playing with the puppies(being small for my age) in one yard when they were bigger sized or in the big dog yard. My favorite dogs to play with are Huskies and Great Danes. Dogs I can handle...people scare me, a lot.

I stayed there for a few months and even met my human there(only she didn't know it just then). She left for school and I stayed a few more months but then it was decided that I just looked so sad. That couldn't be the place for me. I was taken back to my rescue and my human adopted me from there.

I hadn't seen her since she left in August, but when she got home from work that day in November I came flying out of my crate to greet her. Her parents had picked me up, and I'd spent all day afraid to leave my crate until then.

Since then, I've made a little progress but my human is determined to help me be the happy dog I am when only she is around all of the time.

This journal is to document how the process goes. Maybe someone with a dog like me will be inspired by it, or maybe someone who had a dog like me will see it and inspire my owner.

Right now, I won't go near people except the ones at daycare(because I've known them for months), new noises and sounds scare me to the point where I can't even eat, and I rarely leave my human. When she disappears(even for a minute or two to go in another room) I just don't know what to do.

I've stopped shredding things and hopping the fence when I'm scared like I did when I first came home, but I still go into what my human calls "Ninja dog mode" when something scary is around. I duck around corners, stand completely still so no one sees me, and hide under tables and beds. I might seem like a handful to some people, but my human adores me and she's doing everything she can to make me confident. I know she'll never give up on me, and I try really hard to make her proud...sometimes it's just too scary though.


Well, It's Happened

July 6th 2013 6:22 am
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On the fourth I did something that scared my human half to death, and this was before the fireworks even started. I heard the garage door open and close while I was in the backyard and I panicked. I thought she had left without saying goodbye so I had to get to her...the only problem is that she was still in the house. Of course, when I realized that I was back to my usual happy self. The only problem was that I was bleeding all over the place because I snapped my tooth off trying to get through an open gate(my humans have a 6 foot wooden fence all around the yard with a separate area in the back fenced off with chain link fencing to keep us from digging everywhere else during the day). I still haven't told my human exactly how I did it, she'll never have more than her theories.

Because of that, when she took me into the vet to have my mouth looked at, she had to ask about anxiety medication. I know she means well because she has already tried just about every natural anxiety remedy out there...I'm just so nervous all of the time that they don't work alone. The vet prescribed me Fluoxetine, which is generic Prozac, I'll start it next week.

After I start, we're going to try desensitization training again. Hopefully this time I won't be too anxious to do it this time. The last time mom tried I hid under her bed after thirty seconds of very low volume thunderstorm sounds and I wouldn't play with her for the next hour, even when she pulled out my favorite toy.

She really didn't want this to happen, but now that it has we're hoping for the best.


Progress Thy Name is Meatball

July 23rd 2013 5:48 am
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Mom’s supervisor at work knew me when I was a foster there and I’ve always been terrified of her. Everyone thinks it’s because she looks like someone who gave me no reason to like them that I knew before. Today though, she gave me one of those tasty treats that mom’s look alike had. She was really nice to me, told me how good I was, how proud she was of me, and how sweet I was. When we were leaving for the night she had another treat. I sat nicely when she asked and she gave me all kinds of compliments and more pets. I guess she wasn’t as bad as I thought, my tail was wagging the whole time.
The day before was even bigger though. Someone kind of new came over. She’d been by before a few times, and she looks a lot like mom but I’ve never quite trusted the look alike. When she walked in the house I started barking as loud as I could to let her know I was there and I wasn’t afraid of her and she’d better not come near(but I was terrified). Oddly enough, she didn’t even look at me…she just dropped a few tasty meatball treats and went over to talk to mom. I waited a few minutes before creeping out to grab the treats and go back to my corner, then mom let Laika and Duke back in and they ran over to the look alike like she was the best thing ever. Maybe she wasn’t too bad….
While she was in the house I’d inspect her hands or her pants when she wasn’t paying attention. After a few inspections I decided she wasn’t so bad…and I let her pet me. Even more impressive, when she left I took a treat from her hand and ate it! I ate it right there in front of her. Usually, either mom has to take the treat from a stranger and give it to me or I’ll take it slowly if they hold completely still. Even then, they have to leave or look away before I’ll eat it. I’m not lowering my guard that much. Pft. I did with both of them though. Mom’s really proud and both of them seemed really happy.

I started my Prozac last Tuesday and it probably hasn’t kicked in yet, but mom likes to think so. I am making little steps, hopefully they start getting bigger or more frequent or both! I think I might be able to handle it. =)


An Update

October 6th 2013 5:02 pm
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It’s been over two months since mom made the magical meatball discovery, and I’ve just kept impressing her.

The rest of our summer was pretty simple, and then came the move. Mom was terrified that I wouldn’t handle it well and came up with all kinds of plans to help me adjust. She thought I’d miss having Duke around since Laika was never very interested in me. I really shocked her here. It took me a few days to get used to the new place, but once I knew my way around the apartment everything was fair game. It was the same with the walks. I used to be a little cautious, but now I could care less. I just want to find those pesky squirrels. Mom says they’re probably the meanest squirrels she’s ever met, they climb just out of my reach and hiss at me until mom leads me away. One day…

Beyond that, I’m doing really well at my new daycare. I love the staff, they’re all extremely nice to me and were super patient while I was still getting used to the new people/dogs/building.

We’ve gone to the dog beach a couple of times(mom, Laika, and I). I’ve met some of mom’s friends and their dogs, and here’s the big thing: I approached strangers on my own.

I love the beach. Swimming, chasing friends, chasing balls, following mom when she has to go get Laika(who loves to wander off when she thinks mom isn’t looking). Mom was worried I’d be her shadow and never have any fun. I got her there, because I did both!

After daycare, and the beach and all of the new things I’ve been around I really surprised mom when I started approaching strangers in places I normally wouldn’t. One week it was a man walking his dog while mom was walking Laika and I, and just last week it was an older man at daycare on his way out from dropping his dog off. At the beach, I stick to women, but
every once in a while I challenge myself.

Even better, I have a new best friend(other than mom, Laika and Duke). Mom’s boyfriend visits every once in a while. I didn’t want anything to do with him when I first met him, and he was okay with that. He gave me my space and let me figure him out. Well, after a few visits watching him play with Laika I figured out that he wasn’t so bad, so I started hopping in the games too. Next thing you know, I was whining when he left, asking mom when he’d be back to visit again.

And Laika…Laika didn’t really pay me any attention when I arrived, but now we’re the sisters mom always wanted us to be. We go everywhere together, we play together all of the time at home, we explore together at daycare. Mom is very impressed with me for getting Laika out of her lazy old dog moods and getting her playing, even Duke couldn’t do that.

The best thing though: I’m finally okay with training. I used to look away from mom when she’d try to teach me things, hoping maybe I’d disappear and I wouldn’t have to deal with the stress of figuring out what she wanted me to do. Now, we use my tennis ball and I get things fast. Mom taught me sit and down in just a week and I still get them right every time. We’re working on roll over now, I’ve almost got it.

Good things are going to keep coming, and I’m ready for it. I just hope mom can keep up with me.


Mystery Mutt

October 8th 2013 7:38 am
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Ever since she met me, mom's been trying to figure out what I was. At first, she thought I was some kind of Labrador Retriever mix...but I didn't grow any more so she thought something had to be mixed in because I was so tiny compared to other Labs.

My paperwork says I'm either a Lab or a Black Mouth Cur(weird, right?). It goes back and forth between the two.

Mom's first theory after she adopted me was Whippet/Lab. That lasted a few months, then she met a dog who looked just like me at work who was some kind of English Pointer mix. So mom thought maybe Pointer and Lab. I do point every time I play fetch with her.

Something still didn't fit though. I didn't behave much like any of the breeds she thought.

A couple of weeks ago someone suggested that maybe I had some Vizsla in me. Mom was a bit skeptic, but the more she looked into it, the more my personality and size matched. The only things that don't really fit are my coloring and my tail. I do have some red highlights in my mostly black fur though.

She accepts that she'll probably never know exactly what I am without knowing my history. For now, she treats me like a Vizsla and I love it. Being treated like a Vizsla means more cuddling, more talking(because I'm getting really vocal), and more running. If I wasn't a Vizsla mix, mom would never know because I'm definitely not going to tell her with all of the fun we've been having lately.

Also, she was super shocked to find that my diary is the Diary of the day today. Maybe now we'll do a much better job at updating it more often.

Even better, today we got the news that my new prescription is ready. I've been doing so well these past few months that mom and the vet think it's okay to lower my dosage of Fluoxetine. That means I'm on my way off! Maybe now mom's coworkers will stop referring to me as "Prozac dog". I do have a name after all.


I'm Not Shy, Just an Excellent Judge of Character

October 14th 2013 5:52 pm
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As it gets closer to November, mom gets reminded that it's almost been a year since I came home. She's impressed with how much braver I've gotten.

Today, on our usual morning walk, we came across another dog. Mom's a little wary of most of the owner's in our neighborhood after a few encounters(notably one where mom crossed the street to avoid another lady and her dogs and the lady told mom not to worry, her dogs were friendly...but they were both growling and lunging at Laika and I. Mom just said she was sure they were and kept us away from them, no complaints from me). So, mom did her usual routine which was to head in a different direction. We ran right into the same lady and her dog a few minutes later and it turned out that she was definitely not one we needed to avoid. She told mom that her dog was just like me when she adopted her four years ago, but she's been working with her constantly and now she's a shining example of a calm, non-aggressive, respectful, well trained dog. She's also really playful, so I might have a new friend. Laika's fun...but she's so small.

Mom still gets excited when I go up to strangers, it's a little embarrassing. I went right up to my new friend's mom. It made mom think, maybe it isn't that I don't like people, but tbat I just know which people I want around me. I'm always friendly with friendly people with well-behaved dogs, it's the ones with the crazy dogs or no dogs at all that I'd rather avoid.

I start my new prescription soon. Everyone's curious to see how that will go.



October 19th 2013 9:24 am
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Six months ago, mom tried to take me to a pet store to see how I would handle it. I didn't. I took one step out of her car, looked back up at her and hopped right back in.

Today, we tried it again in honor of my new medication dosage that I start next week. Guess what! Not only did I make it out of the parking lot, but I went through the scary automatic doors(they did surprise me though) and into the store. I was really nervous at first, but as soon as I saw all of the toys and met a nice lady who worked there I was better. Mom let me lead her around for a little bit, but I kept circling back to the rawhide aisle. Mom took it as a sign and I left with a hoof bone and a new squeaky plush. I was a little shaky the whole time, but I was there. Mom couldn't be more proud of me. I know this because she hasn't stopped telling me since we got back into the car to head home. We even got a little Halloween picture taken while I was there. I do look a little scared, but what do you expect? I did just get used to mom's camera after all.


So Far, So Good

October 23rd 2013 12:04 pm
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Mom got some slightly irritating news this weekend when she saw my new prescription. Turns out, it wasn't new at all. A different vet wrote the prescription and hadn't gotten the memo that I was getting a lower dosage. This is all hard for mom to check since it's our old vet, meaning mom's dad picked up the prescription, sent it to the online pharmacy and mom didn't learn what had happened until it she saw the invoice.

She was really upset for a few minutes, then called and talked to the old vet who suggested alternating the days I take my medication. So instead of 15mg, I would go down to 10mg a day. Mom was kind of hesitant, but the vet assured her that if I didn't respond well she could always put me back on 20mg every day.

So we've been trying every other day since the 21st(meaning, the 21st and today were pill free days).

Mom's super proud. I had my tail up our whole walk this morning, didn't jump at most of my usual scary noises(except the speed bumps, those got me today), and I've been curious about everything today.

On our evening walk, a lady with a Shih Tzu and a Pomeranian asked mom if her dogs could say hi. Her Shih Tzu sniffed Laika for a second and went right up to me. She must have been just a little bigger than my head. She wanted to play. Instead of sniffing her, I went right up to her owner to say hi. The traffic didn't scare me, I only jumped once at a car going over a speed bump, I stopped to watch little kids running around(instead of trying to drag mom and Laika away as quickly as possible), and I even got to track a couple of squirrels. Today was definitely a good day.

It's still the beginning, so we'll see how things go.


Still Waiting

November 2nd 2013 7:22 am
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Mom's gotten over how annoyed she was with the whole medication situation. A few days after finding out the prescription was wrong, when my pills still hadn't arrived mom called to find out what was going on. Apparently, the prescription was right but because it didn't match my old one the online pharmacy had to call the vet and make sure, so my real new prescription is on it's way(or at least that's what they told mom). With something like this, it's a little frustrating that there were multiple vets at our old vet. One would tell her one thing, and another would tell her something else because the one she needed to talk to was never available when she called. Maybe if my doctor had been there mom would have found out that there was nothing wrong(apart from the delay) much earlier.

That being said, it's been four days since I had my last pill and it's starting to show. Mom had almost forgotten why I was on the medication in the first place: separation anxiety. It's done wonders for my general anxiety that she's been focusing on that. These past few days though, if mom so much as leaves a room I'm right on her tail. If she closes a door behind her, I sit outside and whine just in case she's never coming back. You know, so she remembers I'm there and takes me with her.

I haven't done this in months, so mom says as soon as my new pills get here, were working on separation. They should be here today, so we start that training this week.


We Found a Park!

November 15th 2013 7:41 am
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Today, I had to go to the vet. I don't really like the vet, and even worse this one was a new one since we just moved. I really didn't like that.

Mom knew I wouldn't be happy, so we did everything at my pace. We went for a run this morning, we got to the vet early so I could walk in when I was ready, and everything went pretty smoothly.

I'm still really shakey at the vet, but for the first time ever I actually stopped for a few minutes towards the end. Mom was really proud.

She found a park a while ago that she's meant to take Laika and I too, and since it was on the way home she decided to stop there and check it out as my reward.

She didn't think I'd want to go in, but we did and it was awesome! I'm still mom's little velcro dog(I ran after the other dogs for a few seconds and then ran right back to mom's side a few times). After a few minutes, I was okay on my own. I wandered around, played chase with the other dogs, and even better: I went over and said hi to all of the other owners. Mom was so happy for me. I especially liked one lady mom was talking to, I let her pet me for a while. I never do that. Normally when mom's talking, I sit next to her and whine.

Mom said that since I did so well, and since the park is nice and Laika would be okay to go with us, we're going to start going every week.

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