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Monday, May 16, 2011

Foster Dog Update

Well, my new little foster has been with me for a week now, and while he's a bundle of wriggling happy joy when I wake up in the morning and when I come home from work, he's still terrified of every other human being he sees.

Although he's now met my next-door neighbors several times, and approaches them to investigate them gingerly, the second they speak or move, he flees to the end of his leash, shaking, cowering, clearly expecting something horrible to happen to him.

Inside, he will come when called, but once he is in my vicinity, he normally won't actually approach me without a great deal of coaxing. When I'm in one place, though, the only position he wants is one being velcroed to me - which really isn't very comfortable for me!

Interestingly enough, even in his fearfulness, his natural tendecy is to dominate, so this keeps me on my toes. His doggy behavior of pawing at me, of wanting to stand in my lap, to only lie where he wants to lie and persistenly remains even if I try to shove him away - these are all behaviors of a dominant dog that has been allowed to get away with it. It is very difficult to undo this and demonstrate to him that I am, in fact, the Alpha in my house, and because of this, he doesn't get the "cuddle-time" he perhaps wants. First he has to learn his place in the heirarchy, and when he is behaving, then I will give him attention.

It's good that I've taken a few dogs through obedience training, for the things I learned there are helping me to rein in this little guy who is one moment terrified, the next moment trying to be alpha.

He is clearly more and more comfortable in my home every day, and I hope that it eventually translates to him losing his fear of every other human being on the planet. He's eating and drinking normally, although he still struggles with the idea of having to go potty while attached to the leash. We had an unfortunately potty-training incident last night resulting from the leash issues and his fear of people.

Yesterday afternoon and evening I took the dogs first for a long walk, and then, because he (yay!) helped himself to the water bowl afterwards, I took him out every half hour or so. Unfortunately because it was a nice day, the neighbors were outside by one of their vehicles.

They weren't doing anything crazy, just standing there conversing. To Apollo, though, they were a terrible distraction and he apparently wasn't able to do his business because of it.  So I continued to take him out. Every time, there was a noise, such as a loud "BANG!" from the apartment complex nearby, the sound of a door opening on the neighbor's deck as he came out to smoke, another neighbor's puppy standing on their deck, kids playing street hockey on the other driveway of our townhome cluster.  There was always something.

So it was that not 10 minutes after taking my GSD out to go, Apollo relieved himself on a plastic bag filled with dog toys, and caused me to exhaust what remained of my enzyme cleaner.

And yet, I couldn't exactly discipline him without causing even more fear and a huge setback. Sure, I took him outside, but by then, he was done. Too late.

Ah, the joys of fostering. *sigh*

I am back to not trusting him, though - and will continue treating him as if he is NOT housetrained all until he becomes more trustworthy about actually going potty outside in spite of the annoying presence of people who have absolutely no interest in him whatsoever.

I do hope someone will adopt him soon, for he is a wonderful dog that just needs a good, mostly-quiet home with someone who will be patient and understanding with him. His fear isn't going to go away any time soon, but a good forever home, maybe one with a fenced yard that will give him freedom to run safely, will go a long ways towards allowing him to be the dog he is supposed to be!

In the meantime, I am doing my best with him and am thrilled every time I see his happy joyful personality and his happy-waggy tail! 

Oh, and those big brown eyes will suck you in and make you melt if you aren't careful!   ;-)

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