Depending Upon the Kindness of Strangers

To paraphrase Blanche Du Bois in A Streetcar Named Desire,  “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

During our socialization walk today we ran across two black gentleman and a young fellow about 12 or so. I try to have Scarlett exposed to all ethnicities and genders to better socialize her. She froze, despite the fact all they were doing was standing on the sidewalk chatting. I calmed her and they noticed us then and inquired about her. I explained she’s fullsizeoutput_786my foster, was abused, and she’s still convinced most humans are going to hurt her.

Kinder people I have never met. They were gentle and encouraging and inquired about what kind of cross-breed I thought she was. All in all, we visited about ten minutes with McKinley soaking up all the attention possible while looking at Scarlett as if to say, “Come on over here and get petted.” The adults noticed that McKinley was showing Scarlett the way. And she did get a couple of pats in before scooting away.

They inquired about her being available for adoption and I said I hoped soon, but thought she needed a little more work. The young fellow was absolutely precious with her. “Nobody going to hurt you, baby girl.” They know to contact the SPCA of East Texas if they are interested. They said she’s beautiful and I agreed. I told them she would not hurt a fly in and the right home she’d be a wonderful companion dog.

I thanked them for helping her get on the road to recovery by being willing to encourage her to come over for petting. Scarlett, like Blanche, depends upon the kindness of strangers in her recovery. I could not work with her on socialization skills without people with kind hearts being there to help her learn there is kindness in the world.

Lest you think she’s entirely out of the woods, when we left I moved too fast and she cringed away from me. She’s come a long, long way. We need more kind strangers to get her the rest of the way.




Depending Upon the Kindness of Strangers

Progress in Mental and Physical Health

As of late our little Scarlett seems to have turned a corner. Her health is improved. As her heath improves her attitude improves. She’s about as settled in as she is going to get here and she finally feels established. Safe.

It appears Scarlett won’t need another medical intervention – not something I was enlight1looking forward to. I simply want her as healed as possible in body, mind, and spirit.

Late last night I sent a bullet point list to the adoptions coordinators at SPCA and it went like this (last bullet point just added).

  • She requires a feeding schedule or she will have accidents in the house.  Absolutely no food after 5:30-6:00 p.m  (water is fine) and she requires a couple of walks (the last being around 10 p.m. I praise her a great deal for every bowel movement out of doors. she is a grazer, although her morning food is wet and that’s gobbled quickly
  • She’s much better at walking in an area where she’s familiar, but I wouldn’t trust her on sidewalks near traffic – if she gets scared she can back out of her harness like an oiled snake
  • She’s been to PetCo and PetSmart 4-5 times – sliding doors are alarming as are people and dogs there (too much stimulation) and we will continue to work on the socialization aspect. She has never selected a toy or treat for herself even when encouraged to do so
  • She rides well in a car and can now (generally) get in/out herself without fear – now and then she needs a hand if something scares her
  • She walks relatively well at The Village (a large open air set of strip malls in blocks) when I walk them around the the block there (more socialization)
  • She’s not going to be a dog park dog.
  • She has just (in the last two days) started being able to walk up to relative strangers without looking to McKinley for direction
  • She has, in the last week, been able to go on walks without McKinley
  • She does well with adults, but rarely children – they move too fast
  • She loves to play with toys and is quite puppy-like in her joy.  She can romp and play with me, “dancing” on her hind legs and doing light roughhousing
  • She gets along very well with her foster sister and is starting to do well with friendly dogs
  • She occasionally gives a little bark, which I consider great progress! She is learning a little assertion. 🙂
  • She is not aggressive with cats, but wants to get up close and personal with the ancient 17 pound complex cat – he is not thrilled with that.
  • She is very affectionate and wants to stay in the same room with her person – if you are on the couch she will be right next to you
  • She’s fallen in love with me and wants to carry one of my socks around – which I don’t encourage because I want her to bond with her forever person
  • She loves rawhide chews (chips) and she and McKinley have “competitive rawhide chewing and hiding” games
  • She still has no idea what her name is or the purpose behind it – she does respond to a kissing noise. I’m not sure she will ever respond to a name. She responds to tones of voice
  • She loves pillows and blankets
  • She still sleeps a great deal – so she’s not just recuperating – she’s a quiet dog and always will be
  • She is not aggressive in any way and is not going to ever be a protective dog – she will, however, show her person which way to go to escape whatever danger approaches
  • She’s had nothing but positive reinforcement here and that should be continued (no yelling, etc.) or she’s likely to regress rapidly
  • She loves being out on the porch in nice weather
  • She’s not afraid of rain or storms and will walk in the rain (unless it is torrent)
  • In large part, she’s lost the terrified dog part of her personality and is almost always very happy with big doggie grins, tail wags, and big eyes of joy
  • If she’s with another small, non-aggressive dog that would work, but if there’s any significant aggression at all, she’s going to shut down – even if the dog is a teacup poodle
  • She could require regular anal gland cleaning – at the moment it has been about two weeks (crossing fingers)
  • She has long toenails and there is nothing to do about it since the quick is very long and they simply cannot be shortened any more – it can be quite an experience to have her put her foot on your leg when wearing shorts. 😀 (Note, I am hard of hearing and she has learned to put a paw on my leg to get my attention – she would do well with a deaf or hard of hearing dog parent)

Scarlett is available for adoption though SPCA of East Texas. She’s about two years old. She has had puppies and will always look like a mommy dog. She weighs about 15 pounds and is solid muscle. Her coat is now glistening with health.

She wears a vest during the day because the only thing her collar is good for his holding a pet tag.  I take her vest off at night so she knows it is time to sleep – on her bed in my room with her pillows and blankets. The vest goes on the next morning.

She loves tummy rubs, toys, romping, dancing, walking, playing with her foster sister, rawhide chips, can get an upset tummy from people food, likes an occasional Beggin’ Strip Bacon flavored, and responds very well to tone of voice. She does not like peanut butter (to hide medication) nor pumpkin or sweet potatoes. She takes chewable medicine with no problem, but I still give her a small portion of wet, warm food in the morning (every morning) so that when I need to slip in other meds now and then she has no idea and there is no problem.

If you have a yard, don’t leave her alone out there – that would be too scary unless there is a way for her to be back inside (door open). Remember, she was abandoned. She loves spending time on the porch here, but it is her choice to be inside or outside.

She will “love you forever, love you for always.” Give her an old sock you’ve worn and not washed and she’ll cherish it.

She’ll be here waiting for you. She’s safe where she is, but she needs you – forever Mom or forever Dad. And you need her – you just don’t know it yet.


Progress in Mental and Physical Health

Scarlett’s Trying Day

Another vet visit for Scarlett. She had to have another rather painful treatment. When she’s in that position she gives up all hope and simply shuts down – does not even cry. However, we have great hopes that this anti-inflammatory treatment will help her anal gland problem and avoid surgery. 
Dog Mommy has been very insistent Scarlett must have allfullsizeoutput_786 her health problems resolved. We have great hopes this will be the last painful experience in her life. She’s had enough.
The waiting room was full of dogs, mostly friendly, a few as shut down as Scarlett. Dog parents simply comfort when that happens.
There was five-month-old puppy that I remember being part of a litter of doxie-terrier mixes  dumped in a box beside a road. She was there with her dog mommy getting a weight check. How wonderful to see how these little ones bloom when adopted early into nurturing homes. I’d thought perhaps Scarlett would like her since she’s been a mother No deal. McKinley played with the puppy endlessly.
Scarlett did not interact with any of the dog parents there until one woman came in and sat close to us. McKinley wiggled and wriggled and danced in joy so Scarlett crept out on her belly to see if she, also could get a pat. She did. Then she crawled back under the bench seat. Great work for a totally overwhelmed little dog.
Progress comes slowly and in small increments, but it comes.
Someone asked why I bring McKinley. “Because it would be too overwhelming for Scarlett without her. She looks to McKinley to let her know it is safe.” A socialized dog can be a blessing to an unsocialized dog. McKinley now frets a bit when Scarlett is removed for medical care because it is her job to watch out for her foster sister.
On the way home we stopped and got new dog toys at PetSmart. They had a sale on stuffed hearts – so we came home with a sack full.
Scarlett will be available for adoption through the SPCA of East Texas. I’m not sure when. Probably not soon since we’re still working on fear based behaviors. She is a gentle lamb and deserves the best of homes. Until then, she’s here – for however long it takes.
Scarlett’s Trying Day

Sam’s New Trick

If I were totally deaf it would have been easier for him. I’m Hard of Hearing (HoH) so that means I get some things and miss some things.

That means Sam probably used a lot of oral means to get my attention that I missed. Just could not hear it. McKinley, on the other hand, knows that to get my attention she physically needs to get my attention. Her tiny little paws and twig-like legs are not an issue if she bounces off my leg or puts her feet up beside me on couch or chair or even if she crawls onto me to say: Pay attention to me, now!

Sam is not that kinda boy. I suspect when he wants to go out or wants somethingimg_2064
he probably whines. A lot of good that does him here. It is why I’m always eagle-eyeing him to see what’s going on with him. My obsessive watching him trying to pay attention to his needs may be why he did not pick up the fact that most of the time I cannot hear him.

Today, bless his pea-pickin’ little heart, he trotted up, bounced against my leg, walked toward the door, looked over his shoulder to see I was watching him and then sat by the door. When I didn’t get up right way he cantered over, put his paws on the side of my chair, looked into my eyes, put a paw on my leg, then cantered back over to the door, looking over at me again.

Good boy Sam! Sam got an unscheduled walk. Yea, Sam!



Sam’s New Trick

Leash Aggression

Neither McKinley nor Sam suffer from leash aggression. She’s walked loose lead for years. He’s learning to walk loose lead almost all the time and when he sees something – oooh, look, a birdie! A statue! A human! he’s easy to refocus.

We were at PetCo this morning getting “indestructible” (maniacal laughter – Sam will see about that!) toys and there were quite a few dogs there. One was a medium size mixed breed a little bigger than Sam who was slamming his leash and desperately trying to get over to my guys as if he wanted to play – at least that’s what his Mom thought. I warned her that her dog was going to erupt because of his body language. “Oh, no, he’s very friendly,” she said. Uh-huh.

Sam was cautiously optimistic, WLD moved back behind Sam because she’s no fool, and the other dog went haywire. Sam, being Mr. Cool, moved his head to one side to avoid the snarling, snapping and lunging critter, stepped slightly to one side, and then looked at the other dog like: What? What’s wrong with you? Get up on the wrong side of the dog bed, did we? Sheesh! 

So few people really understand dog body language. A wagging tail does not mean the same thing all the time – there are different types of wags and some, when combined with other body language, talk about potential attack. I wish there was a class to send dog body language illiterate owners to.

The other dog Mom jerked on her dog’s leash/harness while ignoring his raving, then complimented Sam and WLD for being so very well behaved and totally non-reactive to her (still growling) dog. They were like: Whatever…  I said: “They have a good trainer here who can help him with that leash aggression problem.”

Sam got to decide on a toy while the other dog was dragged out in disgrace. Because that dog Mom doesn’t understand immediate positive or negative reinforcement. Chewing the dog out for five minutes after the event is over isn’t going to do a thing.

We got three toys that are “indestructible.” We’ll see how many days they last. One is supposed to be made out of fire hose material.

Leash Aggression