It’s been two weeks of gradual progress with Mickey. What used to be a panicked backwards retreat when we’d move a chair or laugh loudly has turned into a tentative step back. He no longer climbs all over Lola and Frieda in their dog beds, having been corrected by them quickly and effectively. Initial dog spats lessened as the dogs re-adjusted and after Mickey got snipped and became apparently more acceptable. He’s begun resting alongside Lola, the more submissive of our two furries. I don’t doubt that he misses the bond with his sister, Mindy, who is also in a foster home.
On his first walk alongside our toddler’s stroller, he was terrified of the wheels. After several more walks, he now follows carefully behind it, no longer pulling away from it. Mickey’s also learned our routine at feeding time. He knows that meals are not given until he completes a true “sit,” butt fully on the floor. The same goes for being let out to pee and then for regaining entry.
I really appreciate the great tips that fellow bloggers contributed for working with Mickey. We have incorporated using treats as we approach, and we don’t require a sit, especially if he is fearful. On walks, we started putting ourselves physically between him and what frightens him to demonstrate that we are alpha and will handle the potential danger. I loved the idea of bringing him somewhere we could watch joggers go by, as they are still one of his believed monsters, but weather and schedule has not yet allowed this excursion. We make do with our usual three mile walks around the area.
This past weekend, we took Mickey to a meet and greet. The potential adopters live in the country and have kids and experience with dogs, though no current dogs. They watched Mickey hesitantly, clearly uncertain about his timidness, and I found myself observing with two different perspectives. I respected that as responsible dog owners, the family wanted to find a suitable match for their home life. Every potential dog owner should take an adoption very seriously. However, the foster mom part of me felt defensive, thinking, if you can’t see Mickey’s utter potential and his submissive sweetness without a hint of aggression, if you don’t feel a desire to help him achieve his potential, you are probably not the right family for him. With a dedicated family who is willing to constantly expose him to different environments, he will grow into a confident protector and companion.
The family took a few days to deliberate and decided they’d like to adopt both Mickey and his sister Mindy. They plan to have a fence finished on their property this week before bringing both dogs home. Mickey will be absolutely ecstatic to see his sister again. She was his alpha and comfort zone. My biggest wish for Mickey is that his family actively works with him to continue his progress. He doesn’t need acres to explore. He needs to gain his doggy confidence first, and that will not come without help from his people.