Whiskey Girl's Journey

This is the journey of Whiskey, a terrified Siberian Husky, who has to learn that the world really isn't a scary place.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Much Overdue Update

I've been really busy as of late -- working, so I've not had time to update Whiskey's progress. I apologize -- she deserve more!

Whiskey has now been here 4 months. What a changed dog! She is by no means fully rehabilitated, but I can see where one day she will be considered 'normal' by most who meet her. When I read back in her journal and realize what she was and how she behaved when she first came here it is hard to believe. People are always asking me what I've done and to tell them my 'methods'. With the exception of flooding her and allowing Dusty to show her, I'm not really sure what has made the most difference in her behavior. I have not coddled her terror and in fact I have mostly ignored it. When she's afraid of something, I've noticed that Dusty goes up to her, nuzzles her and then goes directly to the scary object and sniffs it. I, in essence have done the same thing -- petted her briefly, then gone directly to whatever is scaring her and touching it or messing with it. I have also 'expected' her to do certain things and have gone forth with a positive attitude in my heart and mind. I honestly think dogs sense that and pick up on it. Whatever I have done, or have not done, it is working and Whiskey is becoming a self confident dog.

Whiskey has decided that my husband is no longer scary -- at least most of the time. She has allowed him to leash her in the pen, sits next to him for petting and comes to him when he calls -- sometimes. She is a Siberian, so we don't expect total recall and figure if she turns her head to look at you when you call her name, she is making the decision whether to come or not -- a typical Siberian response.

Whiskey still will not come into or exit the house with my husband standing at the door -- something she has done for me for a couple of months now.

Whiskey actively greets both of us when either of us goes out to the pen to bring them in or to visit. She wags her tail, gets excited to see us, jumps up and down and behaves very similar to Dusty in his clown-like antics.

Whiskey seems less terrified of new things that she sees or encounters and more curious, like a dog should be. We have new neighbors -- cows -- and instead of acting terrified of them, she stands her ground and either watches them intently or barks at their strange sounding barks! Prior, she would try to get as far away as possible from the scary things and pace wildly. She still does that on occasion, but it's lessening.

Whiskey has begun to get into trouble. A good thing actually, and one I am glad to see. I get up EARLY in the morning and let them outside. When they come in, I am usually still on the computer and Whiskey has been getting into trouble!! She has counter surfed, stolen newspapers to tear up, along with a few other objects. Luckily for me, I always keep an ear out for the dogs and have heard the 'noises of trouble' before any damage has occurred. When disciplined, told no, etc. Whiskey has responded in typical Siberian fashion of getting 'that look' on her face that distinctly says "I didn't do it". Even when yelled at "Hey get out of there!", she hasn't run or acted like a terrified wild animal.

Whiskey is trying really hard to figure out how to play with us. All of the dogs wrestle with us and know the rules -- human skin is tender and they are not to put pressure on us with their teeth -- but they can grab us, head butt us and generally have a good time. Whiskey tries to wrestle, as she sees Dusty doing with us, and will even initiate it, but doesn't quite know what to do. It's kind of comical to watch...she approaches, we make a move to grab a tail or goose a butt and she tucks her tail and spins, looking at us like we are crazy. She then comes back and does it again. The other dogs when goosed will ram us or jump on us and the wrestling begins. Dusty loves it, thanks to my daughter, who taught him how to wrestle when he was a pup. Whiskey will figure it out in time and I'm sure she will join in the fun.

Whiskey is now to the point where it's time to start taking her out in public. She trusts us and knows us and comes to us for reassurance. In the near future (when I have more then one day off every 2 weeks), I will begin taking the two of them to Petsmart, the river and parks and allow her to watch Dusty interact with people. I'm pretty sure she will stay back at this point and not allow strangers to touch her, but we'll see.

I'll keep things updated.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Things Are Going Well

Whiskey has now been here three months...it seems like a life time already. In that time period she has become a spoiled little husky and is rightfully earning her way into our hearts. She now comes when calls, allows me to pet her at will (mine not hers), sits patiently to be leashed, gives kisses, snuggles and shows a normal curiosity (instead of intense fear) of anything new brought into the house. She is NOT 'normal' (whatever that is) and I realize she may never be the gregarious Siberian that the breed usually represents, but she has come a tremendous way in a short period of time and I am extremely proud of her.

When I am by myself with Whiskey and Dusty, she behaves much like any other Siberian I have known -- a mixture of trouble and endless love. However, in the evenings when my husband is home, she is still shy and scared. Her big fright in life was from a man at a fear stage of puppyhood. She is making progress with him however, and will now take treats from him -- even reminds him when she's supposed to get them! She has gone to him and sniffed, while he was watching TV and she has even approached him for petting a time or two. Just last night she tried to instigate some play with him -- she loves to run, as any Siberian does, and she thinks it's great fun when I pretend to chase her and then she chases me! In any event she acted like she wanted hubby to play with her like that and he did for about 30 seconds -- but then she was done and reverted. Next time I'm sure it will be longer.

Dusty has been instrumental in Whiskey's rehabilitation. Whiskey will often take her cues from him; gauge how is reacts to a situation and then try to react in a similar manner. I sometimes think that they sit in their pen and 'discuss' things....sometimes her behavior has
changed that dramatically! Dusty allows her to think she is top dog, when she feels like she might want to try that -- but is quick to come to her aid, if she becomes frightened. He often sits next to her, encouraging her, nuzzling her, etc. These two could NEVER be separated....not ever, their bond is that great. If something were to happen to one of them, I'm sure the other would pine away.

Dusty has willingly given up his 'spot' on the couch to his girl, lets her eat out of his bowl, even dug up his bestest (read ickiest) bone and dropped it at her feet. He is smitten with her and has been since he first laid eyes on her....that's why I kept her. I figured if Dusty loved her that much, that quickly, then there was something in that terrified shell of a dog that was worth fighting for....I trust my dogs, their behaviors are true and honest and they have taught me so much in my life.

Whiskey has been my biggest challenge and my biggest reward. I cannot begin to tell you how my heart soars when she lays next to me or comes up to kiss my face. Seeing her sleep comfortably on the sofa, while we move around her is awesome! I am truly convinced that an open heart and endless love and patience do work -- maybe not miracles, but they help tremendously. In all honesty, I credit Whiskey's progress to Whiskey herself. She wanted to trust, wanted to play, wanted to interact with humans, she was just afraid -- she is learning that the world here, at Shonee's Sanctuary, is a safe, fun place, filled with love and good things.

May all the shy/terrified dogs learn that their home is safe and that there are humans that love them.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good and More Good

I am really pleased with how far Whiskey has come to date. She is really starting to settle in, gain her confidence and conquer some of her fears. In all honesty, I do see a time in the future, that she will be just like any other dog....and that may be sooner then I anticipate!

Whiskey now comes in and out the door, while I'm holding the door open for her -- just like an old pro! She actively asks for attention from me and will paw at me, sneak up and give me kisses and even sit in my lap, if I try to ignore her! Leashing her in the big pen is not a problem at all, she greets me and then runs up and sits by my side -- I can be in and out of the pen, with her attached to the leash in 30 seconds flat! That's important given the amount of rain we've had recently!!

Whiskey is also doing better with my husband. She still won't sit by him, but she will kiss his out-stretched hand, she will take treats from him very consistently and she's even been seen next to him taking a quick sniff, when she thought no one was watching! It will still take time for him to win her over, but I do see it happening. I don't think she will ever be as attached to him as she is to me, but that's okay!

Dusty still adores her and has finally figured out how to keep up with her -- he just stands still and she runs circles around him, it allows him the opportunity to snag her from time to time! They really enjoy being in the big pen with all their toys and exercise equipment and they run and dance and play constantly!

I really do think that having Whiskey spayed has made a bigger impact then I had anticipated. It seems that once the hormones started to wear out of her system, she came around more and more and you could actually see the beginning of some confidence in her walk. She is also starting to gain a few needed pounds. I think it will be several more months before she really fills out, due in part to her young age.

Sunday, she will get to participate in her first Easter Hunt and I'm anxious to see what she does! I plan on 'hiding' bones and toys in their pen, if it's not raining too hard and allowing them the pleasure of finding the goodies. I'm pretty sure Dusty won't fight her for anything, but we'll stay out there just to make sure.

Whiskey is fast becoming a beautiful young Siberian, in all ways and I'm just tickled to death for her!

Monday, April 03, 2006

This is interesting...

Last night, Whiskey was sitting next to me on the couch. I was petting her absentmindedly. I stopped petting her and she pawed my leg to try to get me to pet her more. I began petting her again and then stopped. Again, she pawed at me. We did this for about 30 minutes, until she was ready to lie down.

It also didn't take me the usual 10 minutes or so to leash her up in the pen. Instead it took me about 30 seconds flat. She ran around and greeted us, barked a couple of times at Ray and then came and sat at my feet, waiting for her leash to be put on her.

We'll see if she repeats either of those feats any time soon.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Slow But Steady

I've not updated prior to this, simply because there has been nothing exciting to document.

Whiskey continues to make slow, as in, very, but steady progress. She is now rotating nights in the house with the other pack -- and along with Dusty. I can leash her in the big pen after about 5-10 minutes of her greeting me and running around like a fool! After she gets her hooligans out of her system, she will come and sit next to me and wait for her leash to be put on her. She does insist on walking 'next' to Dusty on the way to the house, but that's okay.

Otherwise, she has learned our routine well and now anticipates breakfast, dinner, bed time and snacks. She still won't let my hubby get too close to her, unless she is crated or on the couch and leaning into me, but she has gone over to him, on her own and smelled him several times now.

My son came for a few days -- on leave from the military -- and Whiskey warmed up to him pretty quickly. Well, as much as Whiskey can. She did approach him and go to him to be petted and took treats from his hands. Why she won't do this from Ray (hubby) on a consistent basis is beyond me and the only thing that I can come up with is that one time, early in her recovery, he made the mistake of coming home and into the back pen with a ball cap on. Since then, Whiskey has remained leery of him.

Otherwise, things are slow going -- two steps forward and one back. I did catch Whiskey drinking from the water bowl in the house the other night -- and that was a first, but I've not seen it repeated as of yet.

Whiskey still adores Dusty and enjoys teasing him. Dusty puts up with her, and it's obvious that he cares a great deal about her. I'm glad that they have bonded as well as they have!

More as it happens, I promise!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Another day -- Another break through!!!

This is a biggy to me. Having two packs of dogs that cannot be intermingled because of one of them is aggressive to the others. So it's musical dogs here.

Whiskey, has been staying with Dusty in our back pen -- which is really a back yard for us, with our patio furniture, hot tub, etc., when it's their time for outside and time for the other pack to be in the house. Dusty and Whiskey have begun to really do some damage out there -- teeth marks where I don't want them, hoses that are history, etc. It was time to move them back to Dusty's big pen, which is Siberian Husky proof. But, we've tried it twice before and have had a heck of a time getting Whiskey to come to us to be leashed to be walked back into the house.(See previous posts!)

The time came today -- just too much damage, hubby's just not watching them close enough during the day, etc. So I made hubby put them in the big pen this morning and figured since Whiskey is pretty bonded to me now, that "I" would deal with bringing her back into the house....no matter how long it took. Figured, heck I have 3 weeks of vacation on the books, I can out last her if I need to!! ;-)

I went out there, grabbed their leashes from the fence, walked in and they both greeted me like they hadn't seen me in days!! Even Whiskey!!! I used the top of the dog house to put a martingale on the leash for Whiskey (I just prefer them) and meanwhile Whiskey was dancing and prancing at my feet. When I was ready, I reached down, petted her, while she was giving me a good hand washing and told her to 'wait', I slipped the martingale over her head!!! She never flinched!!! I leashed up Dusty and together we walked into the backyard and waited while hubby finished feeding the other pack in the house. Whiskey was all over me!!! Jumping on me, vying for pets and treats, etc. As I surveyed the damage to the backyard, she never left my side!!

I am soooooo tickled pink!!! I just had to share!!! And the damage to the patio furniture -- well let's just say, I forgave her the minute she greeted me!!!

Snuggling is Good!

A major break through! For a couple of weeks now, Whiskey has been sitting within arm's reach of me on the couch. A couple of times she has laid next to me. Last night, for the first time, she snuggled up next to me and put her head in my LAP! Every time I stopped petting her, she would raise her head and look at me as if to ask for more!

This morning, she came into the house while I was standing AT the door! She did that not just once, after her initial potty from her crate, but a bit later too -- she asked to go out and then after she did her business and I opened the door to let her and Dusty in, she high tailed it in, AHEAD of Dusty!!!

Good Girl Whiskey!

Week 4

This week we had Whiskey spayed. I don't expect to see a bunch of improvement and in fact, wouldn't be surprised if she didn't backslide some.

Her spay was on Tuesday and we brought her home that afternoon. She slept the rest of the day and night. The next day, on Wednesday, she was still pretty relaxed and tired and it seemed that we could interact with her a bit more. So it got me thinking about the possibility of Rescue Remedy or some other type of holistic calming remedy.

Whiskey has lost 4 lbs since being with us, so it was also decided that the Canidae that I am feeding the rest of the dogs here, just isn't working for her. After consulting with several people who are much more knowledgeable about canine nutrition, it was decided to put Whiskey on either Eagle Pack Power or Innova Evo -- depending upon which one I can find locally. Living as rurally as we do, sometimes has it's disadvantages!

The rest of the week progressed nicely. Whiskey is becoming 'my dog', follows me every where and is getting a bit bolder. She will beg from me when I am eating in the living room -- sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. She is coming into the house on her own, without herding, as long as no one is standing at the door. Whiskey is also sitting 'next' to me on the couch, instead of a foot away. All good things.

Saturday, on our trip to town we were able to get her some Evo, which she liked immediately and I purchased a calming agent, which I tried Saturday night.

The calming agent, called "Quiet Moments" did seem to take the edge off of her and allowed her to get brushed and petted a great deal. My husband was even allowed to pet her for a short time. This is not something I plan on using on a daily basis, but something that I will probably use from time to time as needed.

All in all, I am seeing progress and I am seeing a very sweet girl underneath all that fear. There are even times that I'm not seeing the fear! Those are brief moments, but they are there. Whiskey has initiated play with me a couple of times -- trying to get me to chase her and doing big play bows to me -- again, excellent!

Time will tell just how far we can take this girl, but at this point, I am hopeful.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Week Three

Week three started out with me still recuperating at home and Whiskey taking a few steps backward. She obviously didn't like that I had been relatively absent and initially wouldn't take treats from me. She would however still claim her spot on the couch and allow me to leash her, so I again, did some flooding. Again, it worked for me -- but still fails to work for my husband.

I had to postpone Whiskey's spay appointment, I just wasn't up to having her not up to par, while I was still under the weather. By Wednesday, I had gone back to work and her spay was set for March 7th.

Whiskey seems to have made good progress and it was felt that her and Dusty should again try the big pen. I felt that she would come to me now for cookies and that would be my opportunity to leash her to bring her into the house. Again, a huge mistake. I wasn't able to move around well enough, she was too quick and we finally resorted to cornering her so I could leash her. So for now, she'll stay in the back pen with Dusty and we will again try this in a few weeks. I did notice this time, she didn't run around like a wild animal -- it was almost some kind of husky, catch me if you can game with her. She did not have the widely dilated eyes and was more sedate in her moving about -- so that was progress.

Whiskey plays hard and rough with Dusty, which is good. They spend most of the day outside and when they come in the evening, she is tired and doesn't seem as apt to run around like a crazy woman. Exercise and being tired is a good thing. While she's in the house in the evenings, she's tired and that gives us more opportunity for good things to happen.

She has begun to take treats from my husband. Only beef jerky, nothing else and it's still hit or miss. If he reaches over the coffee table, while she is on the couch, she will usually take the bit of jerky from him -- but if he tries to approach her, she will run. With me she is quite the different dog, as of the end of this week, she will now do some 'begging' for whatever I am eating while on the couch and she will come to me when I am passing out cookies.

Whiskey has also begun to follow me and has taken up residency under the computer desk in the evenings while I am on the computer. The minute I leave the computer room, she is right by my side -- watching and waiting to see where I am going. She keeps her eyes on me constantly and seems to need to know where I am.

Hubby is reporting some minor progress during the day, while I am at work. She is allowing him to leash her while she is on the couch -- although she usually paces the couch from end to end a few times before. She takes treats intermittently from him, but has yet to approach him for treats. And he reported that once, she got relatively close to him on the couch -- within petting room -- and he was allowed to pet her for a few minutes.

I find that she's really curious about whatever Dusty's doing when he's near us. And it appeared a couple of times that she might have thought we had hurt him and she tried to come to his rescue. Of course, we hadn't harmed our Doodles, and when she approached him to find out, he seemed to be able to reassure her that he was fine and just doing the woo-woo husky thing with us. Dusty, on the other hand, seems to know when she is most stressed and will go to her and nuzzle her. He has also allowed her to eat from his bowl -- which is a HUGE thing for him. One day she didn't want to go to her crate for her dinner and instead was pacing wildly about, at these times we turn our backs to her and allow her to do her thing. Well, she apparently was hungry and she went right up to Dusty's bowl and put her face in it -- I held my breath -- Dusty isn't food aggressive, but he loves his food. Dusty just calmly stepped back a few steps and allowed her a few bites. She then ran into her crate to get her own food. I was pleased with Dusty and proud of her for being that bold with him.

This week has been discouraging though, perhaps just not feeling well myself has played a part in that issue. We just haven't seen the progress that I'd like. She refuses to eat if we attempt to hand feed her -- even tried doing it without looking at her....no go. I have to remember that this is at her pace and not mine and as much as I want her to have a healthy psyche it's going to take time.

Again, she is getting much more familiar with our routines and can predict now what happens when. This is good for her and seems to have a bit of a calming effect on her. She knows where she goes for bedtime, what happens after she eats, etc. and she's become the expert at when the cookies are passed out!!

Week Two

Week two began with some positives. Whiskey actively greeted me when I came home from work once. This included wagging her tail, kissing my hand quickly and generally seeming like she was glad to see me! It will be several more days however before this is repeated.

On one day she also followed me around the pen and allowed me to pet her at will. This was once and has yet, 3 weeks later to be repeated, but, worth mentioning, because it is a move in the right direction.

Whiskey still isn't eating well, but a bit better then last week. She has decided this week that cookies are a good thing and will take them pretty consistently from my hands. She still paces wildly at the mere sight of my husband and even though he has tried flooding her, she still isn't responding well.

Towards the end of this week, Whiskey decided the couch was the place to be and has claimed her corner. She seems much more calm there -- within reach of me and will only pace when she first comes in or if there is a lot of movement or activity in the house. If my husband is calm and casual when he walks by her end of the couch, she will remain -- but any fast movement on his part will send her running. Hubby states that Whiskey is a bit more sedate with him when I am not around, which is typical -- if the preferred person isn't there, some one has to be there and they can't be that bad.

At the end of the week, my adult daughter came in for the weekend to help me after some minor surgery I had on Friday (laparoscopic gallbladder removal). Whiskey did okay with her -- allowed Bec to touch her, and didn't pace wildly about with her in the room or moving about. I was pretty much confined to bed for the weekend and so really saw little of her -- she did jump up on the bed once in a panic stricken way -- but that was it.

Improvements seen this week: an increase in cookie taking, a bit better eating, claiming a spot on the couch and allowing me to remove and put on her leash while on the couch. She is still using me for comfort, security, but it's obvious that she prefers her canine companion over me any day of the week.

Her spay has been set for the upcoming week and I am hopeful that this might help just a wee bit.

Week One

From the moment that Whiskey and Dusty met, they were bonded -- which was a good thing. Whiskey took several cues from Dusty and would actively watch him interact with us. This was a good thing, but not nearly enough.

We made a few mistakes this week. We put Dusty and Whiskey into his large pen (60x60) and although the first night here, we were able to back up to Whiskey to leash her to come into the house, the second night we spent nearly an hour trying to 'catch' her. Not something we wanted to repeat with an already terrified dog, so Dusty and Whiskey are now in the back pen (30 x 50) which is attached to the house and has the backdoor open into it. We have been able to herd Whiskey into the house, with minimal trauma and Dusty's help.

While in the house this week, Whiskey mainly wanted to hang out in her crate. She was much too terrified to venture out of it on her own. So we leashed her and I made her sit next to me, where I began intensive petting and massage. She like that -- a lot. This is also called 'flooding' by some and it's controversial to say the least, but it has worked well with Whiskey. By the end of the week we kept the leash attached to Whiskey while she was in the house, but I no longer had to hang on to it. She would still pace wildly whenever my husband moved, talked, etc. but she would also run to sit next to me to be petted. A good thing.

Whiskey seems to be much too terrified for cookies or treats this week. We even had a difficult time getting her to eat her food and as a result she has begun to lose some weight. She would only eat if we not only weren't looking at her, but not in the same room. She is eating in her crate -- more to keep Dusty out of her food.

We had an initial thyroid panel run this week, which was normal -- completely normal -- in the middle normal. I may follow up with more extensive thyroid testing with Dr. Dodd in a few months, especially if we aren't making progress with this girl. Dr. Dodd has proven that thyroid problems can cause both aggression and extremely shy/timid behavior in dogs. I am not convinced that this is Whiskey's problem, but am keeping it in the back of my mind.

Whiskey does ride exceptionally well in the car. She just curls up and goes to sleep. She also walks very well on a leash -- at least she retained her handling classes. She is also crate trained. All things that will work to her advantage in the long run.

Week one ended with Whiskey still pacing, but at least coming to me for petting and comfort while in the house. She is learning the routine around here, plays hard with Dusty and enjoys his company.