Posts Tagged ‘confusion’

Our First Week with Two Dogs

Just when you need it, the video camera decided not to work.  But let me tell you about our week.  Lisa suggested we try walking the dogs together, so I did with the split lead — two doggies on one leash– and with great success.  I did notice that Ava isn’t a real walker… but Gracie was very patient with her and waited — but not too much.  Ava was walking at quite a clip.  On Saturday night,  we bought a harness for Ava to use in the car.  At Petsmart, the dogs shared a shopping cart, enjoying the sights.  I think the shared walk really helped them.

Sunday, we took Gracie and Ava to my mom’s for Mother’s Day.  Ava was loved by all — and she was milking it, taking all the laps offered her.  Gracie was pleased as punch to share her backseat with Ava.

One of the tricks we do with Gracie is have her “show me”… Show me what you want,  show me poppa, show me momma, show me Grandma Dee.  Then Gracie will go with great gusto to said thing and if it’s a person, she’ll touch it with her paws or nose.  On Tuesday I asked Gracie to show me Ava.  She ran down the stairs, ran to Ava and stopped her.  Good girl, Gracie.    Tuesday night, Ava was pretty tired — all that walking on those little legs — and was curled up on her pillow.  I don’t know what Gracie was doing, but she got close to Ava.  Ava did not like this, and hissed at Gracie as if she were a cat.  I told Gracie to come by me, which she did.  It happened again when Ava was on Dave’s lap.  Gracie went by to sniff her.  Ava hissed again.  We praised Gracie for not hurting Ava and let Ava know we do not tolerate that behavior by taking her off Dave’s lap.

By Wednesday, doggies were sitting on the same pillow (I didn’t see it, but Dave said so).  But Wednesday night held its own dramas.  We had a wicked bad thunderstorm. Gracie is miserable.  She pants, her skin/fur is hot and she shakes–a lot.  We don’t Ooo and Ahh over her when she is like this, rather tell her she’ll be okay.  Ava gets nervous but we didn’t have evidence of anything like Gracie’s issues.  By the time it was 4 a.m., both doggies were a wreck.  I held Gracie down all night long and she ended up on my pillows just above my head.  Dave had Ava duty. I think she was trying to get close to Gracie, but it was too late and I was too tired.    All in all, the two sisters seem to be doing well they even finish they’re #1’s at the same time.  Synchronized.

In the last week, this is what I’ve observed about Ava:

  • Ava doesn’t sit, stand, or come when called
  • Ava doesn’t climb stairs
  • when you want to pick her up and she doesn’t want it, Ava slumps
  • Ava sits on her pillow all day and sleeps
  • Ava doesn’t know how to play with other dogs
  • Ava doesn’t do well with children

and Ava is potty trained!

All this says to me that the people who owned Ava when she was a puppy seemed to think she was a toy.  She didn’t need to do anything, she wasn’t socialized with other dogs — she wasn’t allowed to be the best doggie she can be.  That makes me angry and it makes me sad for both Ava and Gracie.  I know shih tzus.  One of the smartest dogs I know is a shih tzu and they have the ability to learn and learn quickly.  So, for now we’re letting Ava be Ava.  But there will come a time that Ava will be held accountable for that list.  Slowly but surely, she can be a better doggie!

Our New Reality, Day One

Dave and I picked up Ava last night.  We brought her home and she met Gracie outside on “neutral” territory.  They seemed to have gotten along… then we came inside.  Gracie first (my first error of the night).  When Ava and Dave came in, Gracie defended her home.  She barked and got in Ava’s face.  Poor little dog, Ava immediately went into submissive mode.  It went that way for a while, Ava staying in the vestibule of our house and Gracie tense.

Sigh.  Did we make a mistake?  That was my first thought.  Then I called Lisa. She said to reward the good behavior. So we tried that.  All night long Gracie would snarl at Ava whenever she got near me.  Not so much Dave, but always with me. This put sweet, damaged Ava in an uncomfortable spot, literally!  She stayed in the vestibule facing the door hoping that her foster mommy would come pick her up.  Then, when that didn’t happen, she just tried to get comfortable.

So, Gracie the perfect little dog, is my guard dog.  Great. We saw it after my surgery.  She stay by my side.  But not once had she acted out in protection of me.  It may be that Ava is a girl dog and most of Gracie’s dog friends are boys.  We didn’t want to reinforce the guard dog thing, so as soon as I realized what was happening, Dave and I made sure Gracie was never actually guarding me.

  • Dave reasserted his top dog status by making sure Gracie was always settled down
  • I would put myself between her and Ava and face Ava, not Gracie.
  • Gracie was required to be down.
  • All the time reinforcing good behaviors in both dogs

By the end of the night, I was exhausted, hoping we didn’t make the wrong decision.  At bedtime, Dave took the dogs out one at a time.  I brought Ava upstairs with a dog bed. I put the dog bed in the corner and put her in it.  She roamed around and that was okay.  Then Dave brought Gracie up and she went directly on the bed where she stayed all night right next to me.  I realize this was reinforcing the guarding of momma, but I we decided we needed status quo.

When I got up around 4, Ava was in the corner, on the dog bed.  When Dave got up at 6, the report was the same.  Ava stirred a bit when Dave left the room and I made sure Gracie’s head was down.  All the time thinking about the dog whisperer, she needs to be a calm, submissive dog.

So, now, this morning.  Dave took the dogs out one at a time, Ava first then Gracie.  When Gracie came in, she smelled Ava who was sitting on my lap.  That was it, just smelled her.  Good girl Gracie.  Then Gracie jumped on the couch without asking and sat between Dave and me.  And asked for her belly to be rubbed!

Right now both dogs are laying down separate with an uncomfortable truce. And no one is barking!

Life’s about to change

Dear Gracie:  I didn’t know I could love a dog.  Then I met you.  There was a great debate in the newspaper about this: do dogs have the ability to love?  I don’t think so.  They’d be just as happy with someone else who met their needs — it might take a while, but they can transfer their allegiance.  But as a human, I have the ability to love my dog and that is what matters.

Well, sweet Gracie who taught me compassion, things are about to change!!  Ava is coming to our house today to make you a sister.  Our family is increasing.  It doesn’t mean I love you less.  Really, it means I love you enough to see that you might need companionship.  That I realized that leaving you home alone — even with a dog walker — isn’t fair to you.  That mommy and daddy can’t play with you all the time.

Sister Ava won’t play with you right away, Gracie.  We’re going to have a few hard weeks ahead of us.  But, Grace Hopper, I really truly think this is the best thing for our little family.

Love,

Sharon/mommy/the lady with the food on her hands

New Friends

We had our home visit with the good people at New Beginnings Shih Tzu Rescue.  Asia came as did little Lafayette.  Lafayette is a 9 month old toy poodle who is painfully shy/nervous.  Gracie really tried to play with him — really tried — but it didn’t work.

Asia — who will be named Ava if I have anything to say about it — and Gracie had a tentative start.  I got the treats out and Ava was hoping for some. To the point that Gracie got a little snarky with our houseguest.  I didn’t think that was very polite and Gracie girl had to give up her treat until our guest had one.  By the end of the visit the two girls took turns getting yummies.

What are we going to do?  I don’t know. If I could read my doggie’s mind it would be a lot easier.  In my heart I think that Gracie is lonely and would enjoy being a sister.  I just don’t know what dog is the right dog.  Is it Asia/Ava?  I say her name and Gracie seems to look around.

So here is a montage of the two girls, Asia/Ava and Gracie girl.  They seem content, huh?

Defining Family

This week’s video doesn’t seem like much.  Gracie is sitting on the arm of our family room couch looking out the door window.  It’s about 60 seconds long and she is just sitting there.  Not a lot to look at right?  Not until you learn the context of the video. 

I was out of town for business three days last week. I tried to give Gracie girl some warning, telling her I’d be gone for three darks (nights) and then I’d come home.  (Someone mentioned that dogs seem to understand that. ) I don’t think Gracie understood.  According to my husband, this 60-second video was a snapshot of the time I was gone.  Whenever she heard something, she’d perk up and think it was me.  And she sat on my side of the couch, looking out waiting for me to come home.  So sweet.

It got me thinking about our family.  I used to think that it was enough that one of us was around for Gracie.  When Dave gets home from an errand or work, Gracie and I would celebrate while she jumped from my arms to his.  But it wasn’t enough that Dave was home and I wasn’t.  Gracie seems happiest when we’re a complete unit.  She defines her family as a unit of three, and without the complete set she is incomplete.  It was an eye-opening revelation.

Gracie and her Pa, Jake

We found Gracie through my husband’s close friends Chuck and Pat. Their dog, Jake the Bichon Frise, was the daddy of the litter.  Whenever we go to Chuck and Pat’s house we bring Gracie so the two dogs can play. They really enjoy each other’s company.  Can you see a little bit of Jake in Gracie?  I can.

More Commands

Gracie does not excel at “come”. She’s pretty stubborn. She’s excellent and “sit” and “down”. I tried “roll over” but she’d keep boxing me… so now “roll over” is “box me”. This is a combination of everything.

 

Some Hints
I think it takes a while for the videos to load... they're HD format and are pretty big files. If you click on the arrow and then immediately click the pause button. This allows the video to load. Once there is more grey line than black line, you should be able to press the play button. Enjoy.