FINN GETS AWAY!
Day 1 Afternoon – I was at a family reunion with my boyfriend, Dan, when Finnegan got away. When I got the call that he got loose, we jumped in the car and it was a loooonnnng three hour drive home. Finnegan was staying with my mom and had just finished a walk when he "put on the breaks". He often has this fear reaction before crossing the threshold of a house. He proceeded to back up right out of his slip collar and this was the start of our long 4 day search. I don't recommend any type of slip or choke collar for rescue dogs that have a lot of fear. He immediately ran from the house and was chased onto the nearby golf course. He avoided the golfers trying to get him at all costs including swimming across several ponds. We didn't even know he could swim. Everyone eventually lost site of him. We proceeded to put up hundreds of fliers around the golf course and surrounding neighborhoods until the wee hours of the morning.
Day 2 Early Morning – At about 5 am we got a call from a local newspaper delivery person who saw Finnegan in the Brooksong neighborhood just west of the golf course. We rushed to the area and spotted him. He popped his head up over a dirt mound and looked as cute as can be. He was muddy from head to toe and looked at us as if to say, " I'm having the time of my life!" I slowly got out of the car and quietly called his name. He just looked at me and started to walk away. As I slowy approached him he started to gain speed. Before I knew it I had chased him through several yards and down a long street. I panicked when he approached Taylor Road which can be quite busy. He just continued to charge on. Every once in a while he'd stop and look at me and think about coming toward me but then change his mind and keep getting further away. He eventually crossed a very busy road and went down a long drive to a power plant. I followed him all the way there, through heavy brush, and lost him in the back of the plant. I had been running for quite a while and really had no idea where I was. Eventually Dan found our car and me and we searched for hours while putting fliers up in the area across Taylor Rd. which is mostly industrial and businesses strewn across large fields. We decided to put his crate and favorite toy in the area in hopes that he'd find it and decide to take a rest .
Day 2 Evening – At about 4:00 p.m the house next to the power plant called to say that they saw Finnegan in the same area we lost him earlier that day. We didn't see him when we first arrived so we talked to the family that spotted him and then proceeded to go search the area behind the plant which is full of fields and industrial buildings.Because Finn has always responded well to other dogs, they let me use their friendly black Lab to search the area. We put tons of signs up but since it was a holiday no one was working. Around 7 pm we went back to the power plant and found him sitting at the end of the long drive, about 100 yards away. He appeared to be eying his crate. Once again I tried to softly call him to me. He'd hesitate and look at me and then trot further away. I stayed there and Dan drove the car behind the plant and tried to see if there was a way for him to get through the heavy brush and marsh on the other side. I watched Finn walk up the drive toward his crate. He would walk a few feet and then run back the other way each time he heard a noise. One of the times that he disappeared I put a hamburger in the back of the crate and tied a string to the door. We hid in our car and hoped that he'd get in his crate to eat the burger and we could shut the door on him. At this point we thought that this would be an easy way to catch him. We were only a day into the search and still very naïve and had no idea how smart this little guy was and how well his survival instincts had kicked in. This went on for hours. He'd stretch his body to the back of the crate to get the food that we left but would never get all the way into the crate. After he'd eat it he would run away for a while and we'd put more food in hoping the next time he'd get all the way into his crate. By this time it was after 10 and the fireworks were going off all around us. Surprisingly they didn't freak him out as much as we thought they would. The lure of the food seemed to overpower his fear of the fireworks. By the end of the night he'd eaten two burgers, a hotdog and about ½ pound of roast beef but we still hadn't been able to catch him. We set up cars with headlights on so we could see the area close to Taylor Rd. At about 1 am we spotted him jetting past a car and back across Taylor Rd. At that point we lost him again. This was the most devastating loss because the next morning would be a normal business day and traffic would be busy. We were scared for him.
Day 3 Morning – We went to the area at daybreak and just searched everywhere we thought he may be. There was no sight of him.
Day 3 Noonish - We received a call that Finnegan was spotted on the other side of the golf course from where we were looking in some woods across Havens Corner Rd. This is a very busy street so we were concerned that he had crossed it. When we arrived we could see him deep in the woods and determined he was trapped on two sides by a wire fence and a large stream. It started raining quite hard at this point and we think he was trying to get out of the rain by going in the woods. We setup a safety fence barricade along Havens Corner Rd. to keep him in on 3 sides and called animal control. The 4th side was heavy brush so we thought he would not try to venture that way. The animal control person arrived and walked into the woods to attempt to capture him with one of those dog neck loop things. Finnegan barked at him twice and then got by him and ran east through the heavy brush where he was lost again. We didn't know if he was still in the area or not until we received a call from someone in the subdivision back across Havens Corner Rd. telling us they spotted him in their yard. We searched but found nothing....
SEARCHING FOR FINN!
Day 3 Evening - We received a call that Finnegan was spotted in the Gahanna Nature Preserve which is west of the golf course across yet another busy road called Taylor Station Rd.. When we drove to that area we spotted him along the side of this road resting. We panicked. We didn't want to chase him back onto the road. We pulled off into a neighborhood on the other side. When he noticed the car he got up and started walking north along the road away from us. We moved the car out of view so he wouldn't panic and after a few minutes drove back by the spot but didn't see him. We lost him again. We looked around the area where he was and found two breaks in the wire fence between the reserve and Taylor Station Rd. where he must have went back in. We used some of the barricade fencing to seal those breaks up so he wouldn't exit the reserve that way again which would put him right next to the busy road. We split up searching the nature preserve when I stumbled across him again. I held out a hunk of roast beef and talked softly to him, but he was startled by someone else in the preserve, ran off and we lost site of him again. We received another call at around 9 pm from someone in a neighborhood even further west of the nature preserve stating they spotted him. He had no flyers in this area, but it just so happened that friends of theirs who lived back on Oak Hill Rd. were visiting and remembered seeing the sign. We arrived at their house and there was no sign of him. Their backyard is next to the far west end of the nature preserve. We assumed he was back in the preserve and it was dark so we hoped he would sleep there. I borrowed a friend's Cocker Spaniel that Finn had gotten friendly with and we went walking through the preserve in hopes that Finn would want to come see his friend Sherman. But, there was no luck. We put signs up all over that neighborhood and started to worry because he was heading very far west of where he was lost. Before heading home we again setup his crate in the area the dispatch delivery person first saw thinking he may also venture back there to sleep over night and we wanted to keep him from going further west.
Day 4 Noonish - I purchased a large fishing net thinking that if I got close enough to Finnegan again I might be able to throw the net over him and tangle him up since he won't come to me and is too quick to catch or laso a leash around. I walked through the preserve praying to see him but never did. We had no calls from Finnegan spotters all morning. We finally got a call that he was back around the area where we left his crate. Once we arrived we saw him sleeping on a small pedestrain bridge. He looked adorable and peaceful as if he were posing for a picture. He was about 5 feet from his crate. Dan drove around to the other side of the neighborhood with the net to try to trap him on the bridge while I attempted to approach him slowly. I think this plan would have worked but we had interference from someone in the neighborhood and he side stepped us. We followed him back to the golf course and lost him. After 3 days of running he is still very quick. He seemed to know how to conserve his energy because when we spotted him from a distance he would be resting or slowly walking but as soon as we got near him he would bolt.
Day 4 Late Evening - We received a call that Finnegan had been hanging out at a farm house north of the busy Havens Corner Rd. We had no idea he had been back over in that area until we got this call. The person said Finnegan was laying in his yard watching him cut the grass. He also said he was eating some of his dog's food periodically and he had been over there several times in the past couple of days. The person said everytime they would try to approach him he would run away. Shortly thereafter, we then got another call that he was back across Havens Corner Rd. in the Wind Rush Division again, the same area we left his crate. We setup a home made cage trap next to his crate. While we were setting it up we spotted Finnegan. He seemed more curious about what we were doing than scared and didn't immediately run this time. We didn't have the net with us this time. We got back in the car and sat there. He came within 20 feet of the car and lay down in the grass. We moved the car about 20 more feet away from him and he followed us. We then opened the door and softly called his name and squeaked his favorite toy. He was curious but in no way came very close to the car. We moved the car further away from him and he followed but would not get close to it. I got out of the car and tried to approach him. He cautiously stayed about 20 feet away. I then walked over to the crate and trap and he followed me.. He smelled the food in the trap and after much hesitation entered. I was about 15 feet away. He triggered the door but it bumped on his back and he backed right out of the trap as I lunged toward it to keep him in. He was too quick and slid out of my hands and proceeded to run about 30 feet away, stop, and then turn around and let out 4 loud barks. He then slowly walked out of sight. At this point it was about 3 am so we decided to just reset the cage trap and hope for the best overnight.
Day 5 Morning – Upon returning to the site there was no sign that he attempted to re-enter the cage trap to eat the food we left him.However, we now knew where his "home base" was so we persuaded the animal control person to come out and set a live trap for us. They wouldn't do this for us earlier because he kept being spotted in different areas which were miles apart. However, I believe that our persistence paid off. At about 10:30 am the same person that came out with the dog catching "loop" brought out a large wire cage that was about 5 feet long and had a pad that would trigger the door to close when Finn stepped on it.. We put some really good roast beef in the back of the trap, took our home made trap away thinking that Finnegan would never again enter it after what happened the previous night, and we left the area and heard nothing until about 1 pm when we got a truly amazing call. My parents drove by the trap and Finnegan was inside! We actually recovered him after 4 lucky days of running, swimming, hiding, major street crossing and dodging people trying to help him. We took him straight to the groomers where he was looked at by a vet, bathed and de-burred. The vet stated that he must have some cat in him for surviving this ordeal. He is now safe and sound again at my home. We are so lucky!
Finn Returns Home
Finn spent his first two days back home sleeping. He'd wake up just long enough to eat and then fall right back to sleep. He was one tired boy! He didn't even have enough energy to do his normal avoidance tactics when people came around. After his two day rest period he was showing improvement. We got him a gentle leader collar and he was doing well on his walks. He didn't pull nearly as much and was showing some signs of confidence. Unfortunately that all ended when we encountered a wood chipper while on a walk one day. We were just one house away from our home when the man operating the machine turned it on. It was very loud and Finnegan freaked out. He had to be carried back home and hasn't been the same since. It is a battle to get him out of the house to go to the bathroom. He constantly pulls on his lead and tries to get back to the house. I have started to just walk him around the backyard instead of out in the neighborhood. He does better there but it's still tough to even get him outside. Most dogs that I've known get so excited to go on a walk that you can't even say the word "walk" without them going crazy. I'm in over my head with this guy so I will be taking him to the behaviorist this week for some help.
A Visit to the Behaviorist
We met with the behaviorist for about an hour. She labeled Finn "globally fearful" with the possibility of also having Separation Anxiety. She is suspecting Separation Anxiety because when left home alone in his crate he barks and has also pooped in it. He doesn't do either of these when I'm home with him. It's funny that a dog that seems so afraid of people could also have Separation Anxiety. He's "globally" fearful because he's afraid of noises and people as well as crossing thresholds, going outside, etc....
Because he is too fearful to take treats when around other people he has been very hard to train. She thinks that Prozac will help reduce his anxiety so that I can begin working on training and behavior modification with him. Hopefully he will respond well to the medication and won't need to be on it for long. I took Finnegan to the vet yesterday to have bloodwork done. They needed to check his kidneys and liver before they could prescribe the medication. The vet said that his organs were functioning well and she wrote the prescription for me. He was such a good boy while having his blood drawn. He hated the waiting room, though. He just cowered and panted the whole time.
I'm worried that putting him on medication might not be the best thing for him so I'm going to do a little more research before I fill the prescription. I just want him to be happy. Right now he doesn't even seem to be comfortable in his own skin. I have one month before school starts and I have to go back to work. I think that I'm going to have my work cut out for me!
To Medicate or Not to Medicate
I just wasn't feeling right about putting Finnegan on the Prozac so I spoke with another behaviorist and she didn't think that I should put Finn on the medication. Her recommendation was to have him stay with her for 10 days. He would be living in her house with her husband, kids and dogs. Her feeling is that she can break him out of his shell in this environment. I initially decided to do go with her plan because this behaviorist came highly recommended. A friend of mine said that she has seen her change a dog that cowers form fear in the back of a crate into a dog that will greet visitors at the front door. That's exactly what I'd like to see happen with Finnegan.
As hard as it was going to be to hand him over to someone else for ten days, I was ready to try it. But, then he started to show small improvements. I used to have to drag him outside to go to the bathroom and all of a sudden he started to stand by the backdoor when he has to go to the bathroom. That's huge progress for him! He's also starting to sniff around the house and play with his toys so that is good to see.
I called the behaviorist today and she was thrilled to hear Finnegan's progress. We both agree to give him some more time at home with me and see if he still shows progress. Hey, at this rate we might actually be able to go out on a walk in the neighborhood soon!
No Prozac for the Puppy
I have not put Finn on the Prozac because he has been showing signs of progress. However, he did start an annoying little habit of staying up all night long and pacing around the room. I don't crate him anymore for three reasons: he's a restless sleeper and was so noisy banging around in the crate every time he shifted, he had some issues of pooping in his crate, and he tended to want to hide in his crate all day long. So, at night he has access to my bedroom and the hallway only.
Last week he started waking up around 2 a.m. and pacing back and forth. The first night I thought he had to go to the bathroom so at 2 a.m. I took him out...he didn't go. Again at 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. I took him out...still nothing. I didn't know what to do! The next few nights I tried to just ignore him but got no sleep because his nails made such a loud clicking noise as he paced back and forth on the hardwood floors. Plus, he would put his two front paws up on my bed to try to get my attention. Finally, after five straight nights of no sleep it dawned on me that he was probably up all night because he's not getting enough exercise. He hasn't been on a walk in about two weeks because I decided they were too traumatic for him right now. When we go out in the yard he does his business and usually wants to come in right away. All day long he would find a remote corner of the house and sleep. The guy was getting zero exercise.
O.K. so now I figured out the cause but didn't know how to solve it since dragging him around the neighborhood by the throat was out of the question and would have given me more exercise than him!!! Doing an online search I found a really good support group of Wheaten Terrier owners. A few of them even have Wheatens that were rescued from puppy mills and were very fearful when they got them. The advice that I've gotten from them has helped tremendously. If I had found them before I went to the behaviorists I would have saved myself a lot of money!
It was so good to talk to people who have Wheatens just like Finnegan. They are the first people that can truly relate to what we are going through. The first thing that was suggested is that I tether him to me when we are home together in the house. After just one day of doing this I began to see a difference. With tethering he is forced to go anywhere I go in the house. He can't hide and sleep away his day and I've been pretty busy so just about the time he'd lay down and get comfortable I'd have him up and moving again. Not only does he sleep through the night now, he is also more responsive to me when he's not tethered to me. When I ask him to "come here" he may not make it all the way to me but he usually gets up and starts to walk toward me. He never did that before. Instead of putting his paws up on my bed in the middle of the night he now waits until morning. The last few days I've heard him starting to make noise around 6 a.m. but he's been good about not coming up to my bed and licking me until I "invite" him with an enthusiastic "good morning". His adorable little face looks so happy when I wake up, he puts his paws on the bed so our faces are on the same level, his tail starts to wag like a helicopter and he licks my arms and hands all over and I love every minute of it. He is such a good boy!
Now, if I could only get him to go on walks!
Well, I've gone back to work so I can no longer have Finnegan tethered to me during the day. This has resulted in him waking me up at night again! He still refuses to go on walks but will tear around my fenced in yard occasionally. Even with his crazy running spells around the yard I don't think that he is getting enough exercise. When he wakes me up at night I've started to just get up and go to another room that he doesn't have access to. This has helped me sleep but I'd really like him to also sleep at night. I'm pretty sure that he is sleeping all day long, though.
I'm seriously considering getting him a companion. I've talked to several people that have dogs like Finn and they seem to think that their dogs got better when they got a second dog. So, I will be looking for a young female Wheaten Terrier. I guess it's important to have opposite sex Wheatens in the same house. My hope is that if he has a sister she will be able to show him the ropes... like how fun a walk can be!
Finnegan still won't go on walks so I've been seeking out other forms of exercise for him. A friend of mine has a younger female Wheaten puppy so we got our dogs together for a playdate. Because Finnegan is so timid and my friend doesn't have a fenced in yard, we had the dogs play over here. I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that Finnegan would be very scared at first and indeed he was!
When they got here Lindy (the puppy) bounded through my front door like she owned my house. She sniffed every inch and began drinking out of Finnegan's water bowl. It didn't take her long to find his basket of toys and begin to play with them. This whole time Finnegan was hiding in a corner with a look of terrified amazement on his face. He had no idea what was going on and why this bundle of energy was taking over his house!
When given the chance Lindy bounded out the backdoor to explore but Finnegan had to be carried out. Lindy started to leap over Finn- back and forth as if he was a stationary hurdle- he just bowed his head and looked scared. But, once the humans went inside Finn started to open up and took his turn at the hurdles. They started to chase each other and have a great time. It was so much fun to see Finn play with another dog.
I'm seriously considering getting a female puppy for him. I think a little sister might help him to open up and maybe even teach him that going on a walk is fun!!!
A Sister for Finnegan
I got a call last week from the family that fostered Finnegan and they had just rescued a 4 month old Wheaten puppy and wanted to know if I was still considering adopting another one. As soon as I saw the pictures of her I decided I had to say yes. She is living in Iowa right now and I guess that her breeder was thinking about keeping her to breed but she is a little small for her age so they gave her up. I've been getting daily updates and she sounds like a bundle of energy. She loves people and other dogs and just loves to play! Finnegan loves other dogs, too so I'm hoping that the two will get along and have fun together.
So, next weekend I will drive 6 hours to Illinois to meet my new puppy, Mia and her foster family. When I tell Finn that he's getting a little sister named Mia he looks at me and wags his tail. I think he's as excited as I am!
Finn Gets a Sister
Well, after 14 hours in the car yesterday we now have a little sister living in our house for Finnegan. We drove to Peoria, Illinois to meet a rescue volunteer to pick up Mia and 3 8 week old Wheaten puppies and drove them back to Columbus. Mia was so good the entire ride. The puppies were good for the first three hours and then took turns having accidents in their crate. Needless to say we made many pitstops and had to clean up the crate several times but we made it and the puppies were all picked up last night by their new owners and taken to their new homes in Michigan and Cleveland. It was so fun to see the new owners with their tiny little puppies. Everyone was so excited.
Once the excitement died down and all of the "extra" people left, Finnegan was introduced to Mia. Being the ever cautious dog that he is he pretty much just sat there and took it all in while Mia pranced around him and tried to get him to play. Eventually he got up and sniffed her. They exchanged face licks and then Finn went back to his comfortable spot in the corner and continued to observe the antics of his active 4 month old sister.
At night she slept in her crate while Finn slept next to her on his dog bed. They exchanged nose to nose good night kisses through Mia's crate door and then slept for 7 hours straight without a peep! At 7 a.m. Finn put his two front paws up on the bed to let me know it was time to get up. But, when I went to take him out he didn't want to go out without Mia. It took some coaxing but I finally got him to go out and eat and then I let Mia have her turn. We're still trying to figure this all out and I'm sure that we'll get a routine down in no time.