Tuesday, June 14, 2011

sonny came home

Week 1 with Sonny
Sonny came home with me the last few days of January. In the 4+ months he has been with me, he has grown and changed so much.  He started out hiding in my bookshelf, then hiding in his crate, and hiding in the closet for hours at a time.  If you touched him, he would cringe and cower.  A few weeks ago, he began snuggling with me.  My boy that spent the 1st day in my house hiding in a bookshelf, the rest of that first week hiding in a closet, and the next month plus in his crate, learned how to cuddle, just before he went to his forever home this weekend.

I can't even begin to describe how much he's grown.  The difference in his behavior from his first couple of weeks is indescribable. I could see it in his eyes; he went from petrified and frozen stiff to pure love and being full of wiggles.

His initial progress was only when he was around my dogs, Roxy and Buster. And once he stopped trying to jump the fence and he was allowed to run and play in the backyard, he made a lot of progress.  He began running, jumping, and playing in the yard.  He was fetching (or at least, chasing) the ball.  He got curious and started exploring things, he began relaxing on the couch, and he was freely jumping up and down the retaining wall in the backyard.  He figured out the routine and began responding to his name and to certain cues, like "Outside?" "Inside!" and "Are you hungry?"  He began voluntarily coming out of his crate and approaching me to play with him, throw his ball, and of course, to give me kisses or collect his dues (treats!).

When Sonny came home with me originally, he spent probably the first month in his crate, pressed up against the back bars so far that when he moved, you could see crate lines on his fur.  When I'd come home at night, I'd walk over and let Buster and Roxy out of their crates and Sonny would ever-so-cautious come out of his crate, but only after I had walked away.  I spent 90% of the time I was home thinking of creative ways to drop treats in his crate without spooking him.  And slowly, I began to notice progress in his face and body language when I would approach his crate.  It started with the fast-paced, only-moving-a-little-bit, still-nervous-and-unsure little tail wag, and it progressed to the full body wiggle and play invitations you see below:

When you work with a fearful dog, the little things are, in fact, monumental.  Sonny is seriously special to me; I adore him to pieces.  And I knew this day would come, where I would have to let him go, but I honestly didn't think it would be as soon as it was.  If keeping a third dog was an option for us, it would be ridiculously unlikely that I would have let this dog go.  Seeing him progress from the semi-feral dog he was, to the dog he is now, has been the most amazing thing to see.  Sure, he'll always be a little special, I'm sure, but this dog is happy, despite whatever previous neglect or abuse he may have endured. He has such a zest for life, it's incredible. He gets the zoomies like a puppy, he squeaks tennis balls while rolling on his back, he chases toys, and he literally bounces around the yard like a bunny. He still flinches when something scares him, but he is recovering faster that he was before.

Our last morning play session on Saturday.
Needless to say, saying goodbye to Sonny this weekend was not the easiest thing.  In fact, it was one of the hardest things I've done.  Despite knowing that he is in a wonderful home where he will grow and learn and be loved, I can't help but worry about my boy. This new adventure will undoubtedly stress him out, but I know it's the best place for him. His new family adores him and wants nothing more than to help him grow into the dog he has so much potential to be.  Luckily for me, his new family has agreed to allow me to visit him, but we'll obviously wait until he has settled in there and bonded to them.  The last thing I want to do is stress him out or confuse him more, so I get the feeling it will be months before I get to see him again. Although, I'm sure I'll get pictures.  But until then, Sonny is home with his new family and despite missing him, I am truly happy for him.

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