Things That People Don’t Like to Talk About- Progress Has Stopped

It’s not that there we’ve never made progress.  We have, and it has been excellent.  Leroy is on Prozac and he is a happier and more manageable dog.  I wrote about it here, and took a video of us working at the park.  That is an improved dog… seriously.  Maybe you didn’t know him before, but just take my word on this one.  Or take my vet’s word after she watched the video, “That is really terrific – GREAT job, and you’re using different tools (watch, leave it, look at that). You really seem to have found that door into his brain :)”.

So despite the progress, Leroy still has his moments.  That’s all fine and well.  But is that as good as it gets?  I have been participating in a weekly training walk for Pit Bull owners.  Leroy seems to do the same thing every week.  Maybe I just am too close to see what I’m doing wrong.  He freaks out but recovers quickly, then he’s happy to be next to the other dogs and enjoy the pack walk.  Freak out, walk.  Freak out, walk.  Freak out, walk.  Every single week, all summer long.

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I’m gonna be honest here.  I am quite sure that I have room to improve.  I know it for a fact.  But even considering that, there is a part of me that thinks I should be happy with what we’ve accomplished and stop expecting more.

I’ve had the great pleasure of helping one of the rescue dogs, Denali, as her foster buddy and trainer.  She is a sweet three year old girl that needed some help on manners. She happens to have a very pregnant foster mom who has never had a dog before.  🙂  Denali is just a little bit pushy and rude in social settings.  But she absolutely stole my heart!  And after one adoption event and training walk, she has gotten significantly better with her handler focus, sit, watch me, and down.  PROGRESS!  So much progress in just two days.  It’s overwhelming!

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After causing a scene of excitement in the park once Denali mastered the “down” command, I realized that I love and miss training!  I just have been stuck in a routine with Leroy.  I am enjoying the Nosework class with him very much.  But I haven’t felt that excited rush of watching him learn something in a long time.  So until I figure out what to do with my boy, I will get that clicker out and help Denali be the best girl she can be!  She will learn manners, basic obedience, tricks.. maybe she’ll even get C.L.A.S.S. certified!

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*Note.  While I was in the middle of writing this and making mini strawberry pies, my brother Steven’s friend said, “I hope when I have a dog he is as well behaved as Leroy.  He’s a good boy.”

I feel like the universe just smacked me in the head!  Granted, this friend has not seen Leroy lunge after another dog or protect a bone.  He has not seen Leroy be his full-arse-self. But when Leroy is being properly managed and in a familiar location, he is a very good boy.  Sure he chases his tail, sometimes regularly jumps on strangers, begs for food, acts like a goon, ect.  But he is a wonderful dog, especially when he’s not being stressed out by any of his triggers.

To top things off, we showed off our most recent trick, “Bang” which we learned way back in Philly.  But apparently my family had not seen it yet!  They were very impressed 🙂  Since it was new and we hadn’t practiced regularly, he was a little rusty.  But by attempt three he promptly rolled over, flailed up his legs, and paused for effect.  Thanks buddy! 🙂  So my dog is making progress!  Or maybe I’m just making progress at managing him 😉  Either way, Leroy was called well behaved today, possibly for the first time in his life.  So “Thank you”, to my brother’s friend Anthony, for unknowingly putting me in my place.

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Progress Pie

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Marshmallow is Adopted!

Well it was a whirlwind three weeks with Mel that ended with a hard decision, and a happy and lucky forever family.  It was worth breaking all my “no puppy” rules.  I did enjoy having that little peanut in the house!  It was amazing to watch her grow, learn, and explore the world around her.  I was able to socialize her with so many people and other dogs.  I know she has a solid foundation to build off for the rest of her life.

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Leroy and Skylar

Lets go back in time, one week ago.  I was babysitting Skylar while her moms went on vacation.  Skylar was adopted through LCPO just about one year ago when she was a tiny love, right around Mel’s size.  Skylar lives a wonderful life.  She has great manners and is one of the most socially appropriate dogs I know!  Leroy loved her polite, yet friendly disposition. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that she was in good hands since she was a puppy.  But she also has the pleasure of being a “shop dog” at a local soap store.  Her mom totes her into work where she behaves like an angel and greets the costumers with a friendly wag and some kisses.  At night she goes home, happy and content from working the day away 🙂

I shared this video with Skylar’s mom and posted it on facebook.  Amanda and Cheyanne watched this video together while sitting on the beach.  Amanda said they loved it!  They were smiling and laughing and crying and she said, “Is this our dog?”.  Cheyanne was looking for a dog for quite some time… But she didn’t want to rush into anything.  The right fit is important!  But after watching this video, they decided that their dog had actually found them ❤

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Sisters ❤

This is actually the moment that sealed the deal for me.  There were three amazing families that wanted to adopt Marshmallow.  While I knew Skylar and Amanda, I still was torn.  Each of the families were great and would love and care for Mel for the rest of her life.  But which was the best fit for Marshmallow?  Well, it’s safe to say that this picture put my heart at ease.  Marshmallow was already quite content with her new sister.  Playing or cuddling; they were a happy bonded pair.

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Marshmallow, now Ryan, and Skylar with their forever mommies.

 

So Happy Adoption, Marshmallow.  Enjoy your new family and your sister, Skylar.  You deserve the best and they will give that to you. Grow up to be confident and happy.  Learn good manners from Skylar.  Practice training with your moms.  Give them lots of kisses.  Meet as many people ad you can.  Be proud when your moms say, “This is Ryan.  She is a pit bull, and we saved her life.” ❤

Brother John & Blueberry

I apologize in advance for the blurry pictures.  These boys were having so much fun, I couldn’t even ask them to pose or stay still.  🙂

So here is the last brother in the family, John!  And with John, comes the family dog, Blueberry.  John and Blueberry are a very special pair; bonded and in love.  I got my hair cut just today and my stylist/neighbor remarked, “They are the type of pair that we make movies about.”  Blueberry is a special pup that struggles with extreme separation anxiety.  She is lucky enough to be employed- she is my parent’s office dog!  And trust me, the place would fall apart without her there to provide some stress relief 😉 When Blueberry isn’t busy working, she’s looking for John.  She loves him and protects him.  She needs him.  They are the best of friends. 🙂

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Blueberry

John and Leroy also are good buddies.  Their favorite past time is playing tug-of-war.  This was happening during my “photo shoot” of them.  Both boys were having a blast and enjoying the game so much.  I decided that I was going to deal with the blurry pictures for this one.  John does the rough housing that gets Leroy all exciting and in tail-chasing bliss.  Here they are in action:

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John is an animal lover.  He’s my youngest brother checking in at 18 and 6 foot something.  Affectionately called, Baby Brother or Little John.  I am a proud older sister.  I have been blessed with a wonderful family 🙂

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Stay tuned for posts about my parents, or Leroy’s Grandma and Grandpa 🙂  And the PUPPPYYYYY ❤

Brother Robert

Introducing, Brother Robert! Robert is the middle brother, in his prime college years.  He is the type of guy who can use the phrase, “lovin’ life”, and mean it to the full extent. 🙂  He is certainly animal friendly and always gives the dogs a nice pat on the head before he is out the door.  He will cuddle on occasion or nap with Blueberry.  But he has assigned the family cat, Lucky, as his animal.  (Though somehow I am the one that took Lucky to the vet for his yearly…)  Regardless, Robert is a good sport and is excited for the puppy.  He also came out and ran the LCPO 5k with Steven.

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“Nice to meet you” with Robert

Robert is a great brother who does his best to participate in the dog-crazy that is our home.  He tries to help out when he can and he likes hanging with the big Lee.  I am especially excited to bring the puppy home, because I know Robert is excited and will love that puppy to pieces 🙂

Thanks Brother Robert, for being part of this crazy family!

 

Brother Steven

I decided that it’s finally time to introduce the human family members that Leroy and I have adopted.  Ok.  They were all here before Leroy.  But still, they’ve grown to love and accept him as part of the pack.  It wasn’t all happiness and cuddles from the first moment he came home though.  It took love, and time, and kisses… lots of kisses.  But Leroy was eventually able to win over their hearts.  And I am very thankful for that. 🙂

So here he is!  Brother Steven 🙂  Steven was my roommate during this past year in Philly.  He helps with Leroy when I am in a bind, meets all the foster dogs, tolerates the occasional kiss on the mouth, and is happy to help me with training.  He is great at making friends with shy or fearful dogs, and his patience and understanding are always appreciated!  While he happens to be the father of a fine feline creature, I would say he is one of the more dog savvy people in my family.

(I apologize for all the terribly quality/ flashy iphone pictures)

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“Sit” hand signal with Tofu

If I was being honest with myself, I might say that Steven is Leroy’s favorite person in this world.  But I’m going to lie and say that Leroy loves me the most.  However, this dog is joyful when he gets to hang out with Steven.  He wants so badly to curl up with Steven and bask in all the man glory that they share.  Leroy has a strange relationship with males.  To be honest, I haven’t done much research or exploration of it.  I know that he actively wants their love and affection.  He wants to be around them, to make friends, to cuddle and play, to please them.  But he is more fearful around them.  He has been hand shy around Steven; cowering at the floor when he waved his hand too quickly.  He can become over aroused; constantly jumping up on Steven even though he knows he should not do this.  Leroy is very uncomfortable around new men.  But once he has build some trust, they are the best of friends.

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All the dogs love Steven

I do not like to think about Leroy’s paradoxical struggle of love and fear towards men.  I imagine him as a puppy, desperately trying to please his owner.  He was likely a big man who would visit him occasionally in the yard, only to bring more food or yell at him for doing something playful.  I know that Leroy loved this man.  But I hate him.  I hate him for all the irreversible damage that he has done to my dog.  But somehow, Leroy still tries to trust and love.  He wants to cuddle with Steven and play tug of war.  He wants to be friends.  He wants to be loved.  So I am thankful for my brother Steven for being a loving and patient male figure in Leroy’s life.  He needs to have this.  He is still so eager to please.  But he needs an understanding friend to help him practice trust.  And Steven is that person.

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Evening cuddles 🙂

Thank you Steven, for being part of our crazy family 🙂

What To Do This Summer

So for the foreseeable future, I have taken up residents with my parents in Scranton, PA.  I am job hunting and looking to move back to Philadelphia around August.  Until then, I’m having a training dilemma.  I’ll start by saying that I am only open to using force free trainers.  Anything other than that is out of the question.  So anyone I will mention is going to fall under that category.  I am hoping that I can get some advice or suggestions.  Keep in mind that I would like to be less broke with a better trained dog 😉 Here are my options while I’m here:

I can choose to travel approximately 1 hour & 15 minutes to a reputable, force free trainer.  I can do private sessions or wait for a potential weekday Reactive training class to start up.  

I can travel 1 hour & 45 minutes to a reputable, trusted, and force free trainer.  I can do private sessions or group lessons.

I can use a local trainer who is less experienced but force free.  I can do a private session where she will evaluate Leroy and see if he can be placed in any of her group training class (which I suspect he can’t).  Or I can continue to do private sessions with her.

I can work by myself on practicing what I know in controlled and respectful environments.  I can do “pack walks” with trusted friends.

I have been struggling with this decision and am looking for some help.  I may give the local trainer a try.  But I don’t want to waste my time and money when I have heard she may not be the best for my situation.  I also can’t afford to be driving all summer, paying tolls, and racking up more debt… Leroy doesn’t even have a job 😉  (and I am barely employed!)  But I also want to keep working with him and seeing progress.  With the lack of bicycles in my neighborhood, Leroy has decided to recently lunge after two cars, actively trying to attack them.  This type of “unexpected” behavior is what brought me crying into Dr. Reisner’s office in the first place.  We must not regress!  Ok, I’m trying not to fall apart completely.  I understand I changed his environment.  But common Leroy, you’ve already been beaten by a car once.  Let’s be logical here.  Your mom can only handle so much crazy out of you!

Until Leroy understands my English; help, suggestions, opinions, local trainer recommendations, advice??  It’s all much appreciated!

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