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PetPlace.com Blogs: Dream Dog

By: Jen J.

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Each person involved in the transfer said the same thing...."he's so quiet, hasn't made a sound" or "he's a timid little guy". And indeed he is so far. When I met Larry, the last volunteer driver, in Dayton, Ohio. Finn was shaking like a leaf. He looked at me with big, sad brown eyes and a look of horror on his face as if to say, "Oh no, not another car ride today". There was no need to delay his misery so I picked his shaking little body up and placed him in his crate for the last leg of his journey. He crawled to the back of the crate but my boyfriend was driving so I was still able to reach him and pet him the whole way home.

His foster home warned me that he was in need of a bath so I had the towels and shampoo ready at home but could I really subject him to this after such a long day? After an hour and a half with him in my small car I decided YES he needed a bath before bedtime....he was one stinky dog!

When we got home I let him sniff around the yard and rewarded him when he went potty outside. Then he found the furthest back corner of my yard and backed himself into the muddy corner of my garden and just lay there. I decided to give him some space and eventually he came and found me in another part of the yard.

The mosquitoes were out and so it was time to come in.....not as easy as it sounds when you have a timid little dog that doesn't trust you yet. Getting him to come inside was hard. I finally just picked him up and carried him in. I had envisioned him running all over the house and smelling every inch of it but instead he just stuck to one small area and sniffed around.

I hated to do it but it was bath time. I don't know who got more wet, Finnegan or myself. He tried to get out of the tub several times and it was a long process. Once he was out and toweled off he stopped shaking and was very good when I cleaned out his ears. He didn't like the blow dryer though so he only got half dried. He was so cute!

By this time it was well after midnight and I was exhausted. He still had no interest in food so it was time to put him in his crate for the night. Ughhhh! Another battle! After several minutes of trying to cajole him in I finally picked him up and placed him in. Neither of us got much sleep last night, though. Although he never whimpered I woke up each time he moved around or shifted in his crate. At 7 a.m. I took him out and he went potty outside! Of course he got much praise for this. So far no accidents in the house!! He's had a rough 24 hours. I have no idea what is in store for us today!

Potty Training

I was told that Finn was coming to me without being house trained yet. I've never potty trained a pet and had no idea how to go about it. My friend told me, "Don't worry Jen, I don't know how to potty train my two year old daughter either. You'll figure it out."

Luckily there is a lot of information out there. I bought the "needed" supplies- neutralizing spray to clean up after accidents and puppy pads. To my surprise I haven't needed either of them. I take him out about four times each day. First thing in the morning, after he eats in the morning and evening and before he goes to his crate for the night. He is 13 months old so maybe this is why it's been so easy? My grandma says it's because he's never lived in a house before so he doesn't realize that going to the bathroom in the house is an option. Whatever the reason I don't really care. I'm just so happy that I don't have to worry about it!!! He's such a good boy!

Socialization

I understood that Finn hadn't had a lot of socialization in his life and that this was something I would need to work on. What I didn't know is that he would be afraid of the t.v. To him is must seem like a big, mean monster because he avoids it at all costs. When I put the t.v. on the first time in his presence he turned on his heels and tried to bolt out of the room and into his crate as quickly as he could. Unfortunately he slipped on my hardwood floor and completely wiped out. Did I mention that my little guy is pretty clumsy?

Well, since the t.v. Incident he's shown his fears in many different ways. When someone comes to the door he runs to the furthest corner, on walks he'll stop and cower if someone comes directly toward him. I have to explain that he's a rescue dog and is still trying to get acclimated. I hope that one day I don't have to make this little speech anymore. Everyone wants to love him but he's just too afraid of them. We're taking it one day at a time.

Toys

Finn didn't get to play with toys the first year of his life. Can you imagine? I guess toys aren't part of life in a puppy mill. But don't you worry; I'm taking care of that. He now has chew toys, braided ropes, squeaky toys, and all kinds of bones to gnaw on. He is so darn cute when he plays with them. He loves to pounce on them as if they were alive and trying to run away. I could watch him play with his toys for hours except that his attention span isn't that long and just as I get my camera out to capture these fun moments on film he decides that he's had enough and saunters off....usually back to his safe haven...his beloved crate.

After a Couple Weeks

Finnegan has been with me for a few weeks and he is still afraid of everything! The other day there were dogs barking on the t.v. set and he actually came in the room and stopped to watch it. He tried to sniff the t.v. and figure out if they were real or not. He backed up and sat down and watched for awhile until the dogs went away. I think that was progress!

His newest experience was the dishwasher...not the noise of it running just me opening it. He jumped back when I opened it but then slowly walked back toward it before he left the room for good. Everything is new to a dog that has never lived inside.

Men, strangers and just about everybody but me continue to be really scary to him. He lets me sit with him and brush him and pet him but still shows signs of mistrust when I walk straight toward him. I've decided to talk to a behaviorist to see if there is something else I can do to help him get over his fears. I've read Nicholas Dodman's book "The Dog Who Loved Too Much" which was great but didn't have any cases of dogs that suffer from fear without aggression.

He is so sweet and adorable. When it's just the two of us he'll play in the yard with me and we have a great time but if anyone comes over he cowers in the corner. The poor little guy! I'm determined to help this puppy get over his fears.

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