Feb 26, 2016

A Very Toasty Post

So you know the thing people do when they have babies and that's all they can think about?  Yeah... I'll confess to having a little bit of "dog brain" after first adopting.  Sister2 and I adopted Maverick and Luke (respectively) around the same time and poor Sister3 had to listen to endless discussions about training, equipment, and pooping schedules.  I know it's not fun for non-dog owners, so I'll keep it as short and sweet as possible, and try to limit the volume of doggy posts.

I get so excited about each little improvement.  "Look!  Her tail's less tucked today!!!"  "She barked at the Roomba!!!"  "She walked on the leash and only quit for the last 20% of the walk!"  But I think you have to.  Because there's lots of little backslides, too.  One day she'll take kibble or a treat from my hand and then she stops.  She's getting braver and walking around on her own, buuut that also means she's brave enough to run away from us instead of just curling up in a ball and accepting her fate.

Speaking of which - she's already gotten away from me.  Twice.  The first time was my fault - I was holding her collar, preparing to clip her onto the long leash we had tied to the deck.  She yanked forward, the collar slipped out of my hand, and she darted to her favorite spot in the leaves in the back.  Fortunately she stayed there and let me retrieve her.

The second time was worse.  We implemented a "leash on before the door opens" plan, meaning that we put the regular 4ft leash on before we even open the door, and then clip the runner (we swapped the long leash for a legit cable that won't get tangled in the yard) on before removing the short leash.  But that doesn't help if the collar pops open, which it did.  This time she fled further, and didn't huddle into her "waiting for death" position.  When I got too close, she'd retreat.  So I stayed and watched her, while Ryan hastily donned some apparel (it was the first morning outing and he wasn't out of bed yet) and circled around behind her in the woods.  That was dicey, but we lucked out and she gave up after a couple more retreats.  Now checking the collar is part of the routine.

We're very careful to never run after her.  Both because we don't want to scare her more and because we don't want to teach her that running is an option.  Right now she flees from us sometimes, but we can generally corner her if we catch her in the right spot (or we wait until she settles down on the couch, which she has yet to "escape" from).  If she starts full-on running from us, we have no hope of catching her because ain't no human (especially not us) that can match a running dog.

Luke seems to be avoiding her less.  They're still not interacting much, but they've sniffed a few times and he's starting to recognize that going to get Toast is part of the going outside routine, so instead of acting jealous, he gets excited when I pick her up.  He still won't stay on the couch with her (if we're not there), but I feel like that's partly due to the fact that he was pretty solidly trained not to get on the couch (before it got quite so dilapidated), so he still doesn't know when or if he's allowed up there.  I'm hoping we can undo that training without confusing him too much.
She's sprawling!  Like she's actually comfortable even though I'm only 5ft away!!!
An unexpected plus: I started doing "training" with dog treats, mostly to build a positive connection for Toast with going outside and for her name (seriously, she acts like going outside and being petted are forms of torture).  Since the treats were out, I ran Luke through some of his old tricks and somehow between now and 5 months ago, he "remembered" how to roll over.  We struggled with that months ago and now he's just doing it like it's no big deal.  I'm beginning to suspect he never forgot; he was just too lazy to do it.

Her barking is weird.  I don't remember what Luke used to be like but at some point we accidentally trained him to do this weird whine-yelp noise instead (because it was cute and funny and we didn't realize we were encouraging him to do it more and more loudly until it was too late).  But Toast barks like a normal dog - a deep, warning bark, seemingly incongruous with her small size (she's only 27 pounds which looks pretty tiny next to Luke's 55).  She also growls, which made me nervous at first, until I realized that she's still being submissive and (I'm pretty sure) we don't have to worry about her snapping at us out of fear.  But yeah, so verbally she sounds super tough, and then you get up close and she is this absolute wreck of fear and shaking and no way in hell is she going to defend herself or anyone else.  I kind of think she barks to let us know there's a problem.  ("Handle this, humans, for I cannot!")

She freaked out the other day when Ryan burped.  It was an obnoxiously long and loud belch, but we had to laugh at her reaction.  She barked and growled, looking around for the intruder.  I think she barked more at that than she did when Roommate came home 30 minutes later.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about the situation.  Ryan's gotten frustrated a couple times and he keeps worrying that she's going to hate him whenever something happens that scares her (running from him and sliding on the hardwood stairs, having to retrieve her from thorn bushes and both of them getting scratched up, etc), but I think it's inevitable that we'll accidentally scare her sometimes.  We can't tiptoe around and not expose her to the normal sounds of our daily life.  She'll get used to the blender and the Roomba.  She'll get used to going up and down the stairs and learn not to run.

Even when she "regresses" it's just a small setback.  It's absolutely bizarre to think so little time has passed.  It hasn't even been 2 weeks!  And so, even though the progress we have is inconsistent and small, it's amazing for how little time we've had.  Just imagine what we can do with a month or two.

Perhaps the calmest she has been that close to a human so far.  It was my mom, of course.  Using her super mom-soothing powers.  I know, Toast, she calms me down, too.

Bonus: here is the list of things Toast is NOT afraid of:
  • Luke (or other dogs)
  • Birds
  • Food (although suspicious of treats)
  • The vacuum (I know - how???)
I hope to have a much longer list next time I write about her.


Have you ever adopted a rescue dog?  How about one with issues?  How long did it take for you to see improvements?

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  1. Aw she's improving so much! Just the cutest, and it'll be so crazy to look back on these posts when she's confident and wild in a couple years. Hawkeye hates the vacuum. Not scared of it, but annoyed that it's too loud. She doesn't mind the blender though.

  2. I've been wondering about Toast! Great progress for only a couple of weeks, I don't get how the vacuum isn't scary both of the dogs hate it. Also Marina hates cars, if we are walking and a car passes she refuses to move until it's gone. If she weren't on a leash I think she'd be gone. I try to ignore cars because they're not a big deal but she's not picking up on that at all.

  3. Toast is just so precious!!!! My dogs are terrified of the vacuum cleaner and will randomly bark at it even if it isn't on. Like a warning bark hahahha.

  4. awww yay! i think this is awesome. go toast! i had to laugh at luke and his bark, like we thought millie meowing was the cutest thing and now 2 years later we can't get her to stop and she wakes us up every night.. but it was cute when she was a kitten lol

  5. The last pic is so sweet! Happy to see that she is adjusting fairly well! I used to lose it if my dog got loose because he was a runner and particularly liked running in the streets instead of yards. Scared the daylights out of me every time! And one time one of my neighbors called the pound even though they knew he was mine and had all his tags- they were assholes though. Hopefully that never happens with Toast!


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