Monday, February 14, 2011

play bows and tail wags

This past week was a very "progressive" one for Roxy.  I've been noticing how different she's been lately.  Her tail seems to wag a lot more, and faster, for a longer period of time.  She seems overall happier and more relaxed.  Sonny's presence has definitely brought her up one level in anxiety, but that was to be expected and her and I have been working harder to keep her comfortable and happy.

First, Roxy did amazing at her agility class.  The training facility's owner came by, and he's a big, loud, scary, "walk-with-a-purpose" sort of guy, especially to a dog who's unsure of herself or unsure of people.  Roxy hadn't met him yet, and he was walking along the line of dogs and had been saying hi to most of them as they approached him.  As he came nearer to us, I told him Roxy was fearful, and he said no problem, and stopped within smelling distance for her while interacting with the dog next to Roxy.  Roxy immediately approached him, sniffing and wagging her tail, and after her sniff, she turned her butt towards him, happily asking to be petted.

This is HUGE progress for her. Contrast that to 7 months ago when, if someone had even walked in her general direction, she would have backed up with whale eye, scared and unsure.  And, if she had chosen to sniff the person, there would be no petting allowed, as per her lack of a request.  And if the person moved unexpectedly during the sniffing process, it would have been game over; she'd have scampered away, never to return.

It was seriously a huge moment for her and I.  The walk-in, informal class has a lot of the same people each week, and the people who are there frequently were giving her lots of complements on how far she's come.

Sunday's walk provided another victory.  I had Roxy and Sonny out on a walk and it was a little chilly so I wasn't expecting to see too many people.  But there was apparently an open house down the road from us, so there were a good amount of cars on our dead end street...

As we approached the open house, there was a couple getting out of a car and Roxy spotted them.  We had stopped and turned around to avoid stressing Sonny too much; Roxy, on the other hand, turned and watched the people carefully as she immediately and feverishly began wagging her tail and whining to get closer to them... I couldn't believe it.  She whined a lesser version of her "Mommy's home" whine.  It was an "I want to say hi!" sort of whine, and she's never done that for anyone aside from a few choice people she already knows and loves.

She's also been more interested in playing with Sonny, who she previously was very happy to ignore completely.  She is overwhelmed by playing with Sonny and Buster at the same time, so I've been doing lots of 1-on-1, mixing it up with the three of them.  Sonny play bowed and play-growled when we came in from our morning potty break yesterday, and Roxy immediately perked up, as if she was waiting for him to make that noise. She ran right up to him, slammed both her front paws on the ground and rolled her head around and let out a small growl, which is what she does with Buster when she's excited and really wants to play.  Sonny was so happy, as if the girl he's been pining over finally noticed him, and Roxy and him played for a good 10 minutes before I decided to end it on a good note.

Roxy has really come so, so far compared to where she was, who she was, when I adopted her. All the desensitization and counterconditioning work that her and I have been doing is paying off, and I'm so excited that I want to scream and tell the world how proud I am of her!!

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