Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a new foster for sonny

Sonny went to his new foster home this weekend.  He had been back home with me for a total of 17 days and he was doing really, really well.  Of course that made this whole thing more difficult for me.

Sonny was still nervous with Rob, but had begun playing in the same room as Rob, as long as Rob was sitting still.  Previously, he wouldn't even come out of his crate if Rob was in the same room as him.  Sonny was also going out of his way to venture into the second bedroom (where the computers are) when Rob was there.  He was doing some "drive-bys," where he would run in, sniff a little, and run back out.  He would do this several times in a row before going back to relax in the Papasan chair in the living room.

Sonny and Sugar were also becoming fast friends.  Sugar and Buster were doing a lot of interactive play with toys, instead of just wrestling, and Sonny was always trying to get involved.  I actually think that is part of what helped him make the leap towards tugging -- he was watching Sugar and Buster play tug together, and then participating in their game.  I would grab the tug toy while they were playing, and tug with him a little before letting go and wandering away, to let him take in what had just happened.  Soon after, he began bringing me the rope toy and attempting to tug with me.  It was pure bliss for me.

Anyway, when we were told Sonny was being returned, it was never in the cards for him to come back to my house.  We had our two dogs and one foster, and that was sort of our limit.  In addition to that, we have several weekend and week-long trips coming up in the next six months. We typically bring the dogs with us on short trips, and leave the dogs with a dog sitter on the longer trips.  So, every planned trip would be a huge stressor for Sonny with the potential to set him back pretty far.  Leaving him with random people each time we went away would be traumatizing for him.  Attempting to take him with us on short trips would be equally traumatizing because there is no way to avoid his two biggest triggers:  people and changes in his environment.  So, the goal was to find Sonny a foster that could take him long term at the moment of his return.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen. The situation became unsafe, and poor Sonny was panic-stricken, so I went and got him less than 12 hours after I was told his adoptive family wasn't keeping him.

I knew when I got him in my car that he wouldn't be staying for long. And I knew when he walked in my house and went from frozen-stiff and terrified to the wiggly, happy little boy I remembered, that he wouldn't be staying. And I knew every morning, when I got up and was greeted with his speeding tail, thump-thump-thumping on his crate, that he wouldn't be staying.  And I knew every evening, when I came home and he jumped up on the couch to snuggle me and kiss me, that he wouldn't be staying.

But none of that made it any easier to send him off to his new foster home this weekend.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

more progress for sonny

One of the biggest challenges thus far has been getting Sonny to come out of his crate when Rob and I are relaxing in the living room.  Lately he's been coming out more to explore, but he doesn't do a whole lot while out there.

With Sonny's newly discovered love for tug and high desire to play tug, last night we saw something different.  Sonny came out of his crate and grabbed his tug rope.  He spent a good 10 minutes playing tug with me while Rob was sitting on the other side of the couch.  Rob moved a few times, and although Sonny stopped to observe, he went back to tugging right away.

I know it's hard for Rob to see, but these behavior changes in Sonny are monumental.  For Sonny to be relaxed enough around Rob to play is something serious.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

sonny tugs (with video!)

Sonny has been back with me for almost 13 days and he is doing very well.  He warmed up to be almost immediately, and is back to licking my face, play-snuggling, and just running about like the goofy dog that he is.  Sonny has always been semi-interested in playing fetch, and he's not biased towards tennis balls -- he wants me to throw whatever toy has caught his attention at the time, regardless of what it is.  So he's been bringing me the rope tug toy, the Kong Wubba, tennis balls, and these tennis-ball-sized squeaky toys that are shaped like gummy bears.  I've been throwing everything he drops for me to throw and he's been having a blast doing it.

But last night when I came home from work, it was different.  Sonny didn't want to just fetch the rope toy, he wanted to TUG.  He ran towards me, rope dangling from his mouth, and he was prancing his little paws around, instigating me to grab the rope.  The moment I grabbed on, he started walking backwards with the rope, attempting to tug.  I was encouraging him to tug and play and he started to tug back, tail wagging like crazy the whole time.

So, of course, I captured it on video just so I could see the difference from earlier on... in the beginning, if you went to grab the rope toy while he had it, he would drop it immediately and run the other way.  Now, he's playing tug and waiting around for me to throw it for him, too.

Last night, before bed, Sonny got a case of the zoomies and was running around like a madman, wiggling and jumping around with toys in his mouth.  We were in a different room than the rope toy, but he discovered the Kong Wubba in the corner and he and Sugar began playing tug.  I turned to watch, and he stopped immediately.  I thought I'd ruined the moment and he was done playing....

But he only stopped playing for a moment.  Then he wagged his tail in full-speed Sonny fashion, and latched onto the Wubba harder.  Then he proceeded to use the Wubba to drag Sugar towards me, where he placed the bit of toy that was not occupied by a dog's mouth directly into my hand. He wagged his tail, full wiggle-butt style, and waited patiently.

So, although he was enjoying playing with Sugar, he really wanted to play with ME.