Saturday, February 5, 2011

one step forward, two steps back

I've discovered that Sonny is pretty much terrified of men.  He's been here a week tomorrow, and he's still very skittish and spooky, which I totally expected, but he's starting to approach me for treats, and if I'm on the couch relaxing he'll come over and put his paws up to look around.  He's not ready for petting or snuggles yet, but he's getting more comfortable with the idea of being in the vicinity of me and will sometimes come right up to me to take a treat from my hand.  I'm still tossing treats 99% of the time, just so there's no pressure on him, but he's getting closer and closer to me, and starting to smell my hands and lick them.  Which is a HUGE step for him.

But when Rob is home, he's so much more uncomfortable.  Today we were outside and Rob came out to ask me a question and, from 35 feet away, Sonny hid behind me.  Later on, we were at the super market and when we came home, Rob opened Sonny's crate and walked away, not expecting him to come out, but still giving him the option, and a few minutes later Sonny blew his anal glands.  Poor guy pressed himself up against the back end of the crate as far as possible and just sat there, frozen with fear until POP goes the fish-smell.  If Sonny walks into a room that Rob is in, he quickly makes a u-turn and bee-lines for his crate or one of his other safe spots.

Rob's frustrated. He doesn't understand how a dog can still be terrified of him after a week of nothing bad happening.  It's not easy trying to explain to someone that it's not personal.  I went through this with Roxy; no one understood that she didn't specifically dislike them.  It's strange, Rob understood it then, when it wasn't him the dog was afraid of; but he's struggling to understand it now.  I think he's sort of hurt. Most of the dogs we've fostered just plain love me. Not because of some innate difference between Rob and I, but because I feed them, I walk them, I train them... I meet their basic needs and then some. They know who snaps on their leash and gives them their kong, and we bond while we train. Rob doesn't have any interest in any of that really, and ultimately, that's a huge part of why the dogs bond with me.  But Rob wants him to feel safe and comfortable, he just doesn't quite understand it's not a short process...

So, right now I'm sitting here with Sonny on the futon to my right, laying down, alert, but comfortable.  He's graduated from hiding in the closet to laying on the futon, occasionally sitting up to listen to what's going on in the other room.

When it's just me, him, and my two pooches, he is much more relaxed dog.  Obviously, he still has a long way to go, and I've got all the time in the world, but it just breaks my heart watching him run in paranoid circles trying to get away from someone that just wants him to feel safe.

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