After a couple of days of setbacks we seem to be back on track. It always seems to go this way. We arrive at foster care in intimidation mode. New house. New dog. New people. New scent/walking territory. Gradual relaxation into a “norm” followed by a bit of regressive behavior.
When I was a social worker I saw this pattern with foster kids who were jolted into the system. Dogs are like 18-month-old children without language.
Things we are still working on include: wariness to abject terror of other dogs – depending on size. There is a blue pit bull here that she is terrified of if she even sees him from a distance. She’s less wary of Pocket, the 6 pound chihuahua. Still wariness to fear of strange humans. Kids move too fast – they dart. And then there’s name recognition – she still has not associated Scarlett with herself. However, when I say “Bebe” (a fond name for a critter) she responds to that.
You will never be attacked from behind when walking with Scarlett. She knows if there is someone coming from above, below, or any side. She is not fierce, but she will run with you to avoid danger. There’s something to be said for that. 😀 No one is ever going to get the drop on her!
Progress: Some play activity with WLD and some “doggie rodeo” moments of running around the house growling and play bowing. Good stuff! Now gutting fluffy toys (limit of 1 per day) and a newly discovered joy of kong balls. Showing joyful interactions now and then for limited periods of time. She’s not as afraid of doors as long as they are not attached to cars.
Status quo: She continues to sleep a lot. She likes pillows and blankets and soft beds (who doesn’t?) Takes her medications on schedule with a pill pocket or bit of cheese. Still loves the couch and the dog bed by the slider. Those are her staked out areas.
Today was the first time being left alone for two hours (no human, no McKinley) and there was some separation anxiety (crying) which is not unexpected. She was confined for her own safety during that time. She still has anxiety about getting out of the car and walking (fear of being dumped?) as well, but is trying to take McKinley’s unconcerned lead – although Scarlett always knows where the car is. So does WLD, but she’s not fearful about it, she just knows.
A neighbor inquired about adopting her, but they would be first time dog owners and it was immediately clear they were not up to dealing with Scarlett. Sam, yes, Scarlett, no. Scarlett is not a dog for someone who has never been with a traumatized pooch. Plus, she’s just not ready at the moment – she’s okay with me 95% of the time, but she can get startled and fearful in a heartbeat if she thinks something is off kilter. Never aggressive fear – cowering, flinching fear. Instead, I gave them the number and email address of SPCA of East Texas to help them find their forever dog.
Each day that passes confirms my belief she would do best as an only dog or at most with one other similarly sized dog that is not overly assertive. Scarlett needs a lot of individual interaction and assurance. She will improve over time, but she’s going to continue to be who she is in terms of being easily intimidated and very passive. Her early life in the open and her interactions with people who may have been cruel to her (stray dog-get away) have shaped her reactions. Over a lifetime she will settle in more, but she’s never going to be a super-secure dog like Sam.
She will be a very contented partner for a person who is home a lot (older/disabled/works from home). She’s pretty much a one person dog – still is not cozy with my sister, although she’s not actively terrified of her. We all have our personalities and I accept Scarlett for who she is, just as we did easy-going Sam.
If you are interested in Scarlett please contact the SPCA of East Texas (link above).