Hadley’s progress seems to have stalled. My mother-in-law is visiting and my college age son just got home, so the household dynamics are shifting and perhaps our little sensitive girl is picking up on that.
She’s back to staying in her crate for hours on end. She runs for the crate every time anything frightens her or makes her nervous. I’m trying to counter my own impatience and leave her be, but it’s frustrating. I’d like to shut the crate up during the day, but I know it’s her safe place. We all need a safe place.
I thought the rate of progress would increase, not decrease, since she seemed to be getting so comfortable with the house, the people in the house, and Gracie. That evaluation is relative, since anything probably seems like progress when you start with a dog who was curled in a ball for three days unwilling or unable to engage with us.
She still slinks around like she’d prefer to be invisible, startling at any sudden movements or noises and making a beeline for her crate. She runs when any of us reach out to touch her. She does love to be petted and cuddled, but only on her terms.
Hadley follows me outside happily, but we must stick to a prescribed path otherwise she goes into either Wylie Coyote mode (running in place in a desperate attempt to get back to her safe zone) or she shuts down (lying on the ground, shaking). In the video we are skirting the edge of the area she prefers only making scattered progress.
When she does dare to come out of the crate, she seems relatively relaxed- chewing up nerf darts, collecting “toys” (computer chargers, pencils, Christmas decorations) to hoard, or snoozing next to my desk. Every now and again, she shows her houndness by taking a sly tour of the kitchen floor in search of crumbs. She does not brave any foreign rooms and would never dare go up the stairs.
It’s been nearly three weeks and I wish I could tell you that she bounds around the house happily, but that isn’t the case. She’s fearful and cautious at all times. I did some reading online about fearful dogs and much of what I read says you can’t force them to interact or they could become aggressive. I can’t imagine Hadley ever being aggressive about anything. Even when she is stealing her hoof-chew back from Gracie she does it with the stealth of a cat-burgler. Still, we aren’t pushing her too hard.
My (and I believe Hadley’s) favorite time of the day is in the evening when we snuggle on the couch. Even if she’s cowering in her crate, the moment I sit down on the couch, I have company. That’s how I know she wants to love and be loved.
Cars are still a big issue for her – moving or not. She will not even walk past the cars in the driveway. On our second outing on the street, she again became unhinged when any cars appeared. We made it about a half mile before she completely shut down – lying in the grass and refusing to go any further.
At some point, when her adopter comes to take her to a forever home, she’ll have to go near a car. In fact, she’ll have to get inside a car. So in the coming weeks one of my goals is to get her in the car and take her for a little ride. I’ll sit with her in the back seat and offer treats and constant attention. Knowing Hadley we may have to do this two or three or a thousand times. We’ve parked one of our cars smack dab in the middle of her greenzone (you can see it in the video). She walks around it keeping a wary eye on the thing just in case it springs to life. I’m hoping that getting inside it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.
The coming week will be a big one for Hadley. Beyond high school friends reuniting with my home-again college student, relatives coming for Christmas, and kids home all day every day, there’s also the puppies (what?! Did I say puppies? We’ll get to that in a minute.). Tomorrow we’ll go cut down a Christmas tree and install in right next to Hadley’s crate and pile presents under it. Hadley’s little world is about to explode.
While Hadley is progressing, it’s stop-start, much like the little Toyota I drove in college. We make what seems like great progress and then we have a week like this one where she seemingly stalls or even backtracks.
I’ve begun thinking about her eventual adoption. If this week is any indicator, she may not be ready to meet new faces. But part of me thinks it should be sooner, rather than later, as she’s grown very dependent on me. I think no matter how much progress we make building her confidence, she will definitely go through a shut-down again when she is adopted, so she will need someone who is patient above everything else. This little girl has so much love and life to give, but it’s gonna take some time before she’s ready to share it. Meanwhile, there’s nothing to be done but to love her where she is right now.
Okay – puppies!
This Sunday we will pick up five of the puppies I watched come into the world five weeks ago. They will be leaving their gorgeous mama Lilliana and moving into our puppy room just in time for Christmas. Best Christmas present eva! Four out of five of them have approved adopters, so we’ll only have them for three weeks when they will be old enough to go home. These little chunky lab mix puppies are beyond adorable. Want to see for yourself? Check out Chris and Caitlyn’s Caring for Canines Facebook page.
My gift to my Facebook and twitter followers this holiday will be daily puppy pics. Who doesn’t smile at the site of a puppy? No one. I’ll have five little cherubs who can put smiles on faces all through the holidays. I’m all about sharing the happy this holiday. Charlie Brown said it best, “Happiness is a warm puppy.”