Friday, February 20, 2015

February Lucinda the dog update

Lucy the dog in profileWe've had Lucinda the dog eight weeks now. It's so wonderful, so comforting, so normal, to have a dog at home again. It's brought back so many memories of Buster, Wiley and Albi when they each first came into my life.

Lucy is less skittish with strangers, so much so that people have thought she's grown. One person said to me today, "My goodness, she's twice the size she was when I last saw her!" Um... no. She's gained less than two pounds since we first weighed her on Jan. 3 at PetSmart. I took her to the vet one day just for her to go inside and meet everyone, so her first visit wouldn't involve anything but friendly people and dog treats. When we took her back, along with Max the Cat (he needed his boosters), she handled being chipped like it was no big thing at ALL.

She walks on a leash incredibly well now, and I've trained with her every day - she knows sit, down, and stay from both positions, and I'm working on "go to your bed". But she just does not understand "come" when we are inside the house or in the yard. At the dog park or when she's walking on a leash - yes, she totally gets it, and it's really wonderful to call her name at the dog park and have her bound toward you and lean up against you as you tell her what a good girl she is. Inside our house and in the yard, I use the most delicious dog treats possible, but she will only "come" in the house or in the yard if we are in the middle of a training session - try it when you are on one side of the house and she's on the other, and she'll just stare at you.

But, sadly, we've had a setback regarding trust. Lucy is a bit more skittish, and seems a bit depressed. And I think it all goes back to our horrible scare with her about three weeks ago.

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you know that we had a horrible scare with Lucy on January 29: around 2:30 that day, after Lucy and I had finished our B Street Trail walk and were two blocks from home on 18th, I fell and lost my grip on the leash. As soon as I hit the ground, Lucy BOLTED. She FLEW down 18th street, her leash dragging behind her, making a loud noise because of the plastic holder for her poop bags banging against the sidewalk and street. I couldn't even begin to catch her as she bolted away from me. She ran two blocks as fast as she could, almost getting hit by a car, then I saw her in the distance turn the corner of where we live, on Birch and 18th. And then she was gone. An hour later, EVERY person in Forest Grove with a dog was out looking for her. Neighbors went out in their cars looking for her. I called Stefan at work. He came home and joined the search. I stood in front of the house, looking, calling, crying LOTS, making a general spectacle of myself. I searched under bushes, in nooks and crannies all around our house and the neighbors. Nothing. Crazy reports came in on the Facebook Forest Grove community of sightings as far away as Cornelius - and poor Stefan drove to every one of them, no matter how crazy.

More than four hours later, night had fallen, and temperatures were dropping - it would freeze that night, or come close. I was imagining the worst, and thought, if we don't find her, this is one of the worst days of my life. Stefan and I decided to go on the route of our usual morning walk, backwards, calling for her. About 45 minutes later, we got back to the house and Stefan heard something rustling in the neighbor's yard next to our fence. It was Lucinda. She' hadn't been there or near there until then, as I'd looked there thoroughly earlier. We think that by going out and calling, she heard us from wherever she was hiding somewhere on the block and came home. She bolted away from us when Stefan approached, but stopped in the front grass, sat, and eyed me with a side, terrified glance. I had to approach slowly, with a raw hide, and I talked and talked. She dropped down on her belly, but was ready to run. I stopped before I got too close and she would bolt again. Finally, she crawled tentatively came forward for the rawhide. She was shaking uncontrollably. Still wearing her collar and leash - the sound of it dragging behind her had contributed to her panic. I held her and wept. Stefan came up and held her too. We brought her inside - both her and her leash wet all over. I fainted shortly after we got her inside - everything just kinda went gray and fuzzy. I think Stefan thought I was kidding. I'm just glad I didn't hit anything on the way down.

Lucy the dog in profileEveryone in Forest Grove was awesome. Beyond awesome. I cannot believe how many people went out with their own dogs or cars just to look for our dog! I think she would have come home sooner had the Methodist Church playground not been packed for an hour with screaming kids - she does not like groups of children (she's fine with one or two).

Since then, she's progressed well on training and walking on leash, but we've gone a bit backwards in terms of trust, and that really breaks my heart. When it's time to walk, each morning, afternoon and evening, she cowers and crawls under the futon couch and won't come out, no matter what awesome treat I offer her. I have to put the retractable leash on her when she isn't under the couch and isn't expecting it, and then she'll go on a walk just fine - no cowering at all. She rarely pulls now. But she also rarely sleeps with us in the bedroom anymore, on her bed next to mine. Instead, she sleeps in her crate, getting up in the night to let me know when it's time for a pee break (anytime between 2 and 4 a.m.) - and then she is happy to be put on leash.

She's been to a private dog training class, and she will begin group classes in March. And I'm doing all I can to rebuild our trust: I lay in the floor with her whenever she's outside her crate, and pull her into my lap sometimes - she loves to be held. The best days are always when she can visit the dog park, or have a dog over to play in the back yard - all her inhibitions melt away, and after we get back home, she's happy and content. I would LOVE to get another dog - I think it would help her tremendously. But that's a while a way - we've got things to work on until then.


What I’ve learned about Lucinda

The meaning of noises

We Love Lucy