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.

995700_339243969538952_1592250320_n

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!

1081383_641904289167649_1292579337_n

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!

1001720_580756601962659_685458889_n

*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.

563002_10151887724698646_1188082446_n

Progress Pie

Advertisements

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. 🙂

423457_10151207147908646_1641033086_n

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:

IMG_1223

IMG_1953

IMG_7810

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 🙂

398322_10150928485923646_491787901_n

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.

1044566_10151811053703646_1231571487_n

 

IMG_3541

“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)

"Sit" hand signal

“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.

483192_442339535845562_1333938605_n

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.

946204_10151811058543646_159195817_n

Evening cuddles 🙂

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

Happy Tails Update!

Every time I see a picture of Jora *now to be referred to as Bella* in her forever home, my heart grows 10x it’s original size.  So I wanted to share some of them with you 🙂  Not only did Bella get exactly the forever home that I wanted for her, but her mom came out to volunteer at LCPO’s 5k!  I’m hoping to see both of them soon at another event and catch up more.  So here she is: happy, gorgeous, loving Bella.

525647_511958398842480_772717302_n

527914_511958548842465_43833808_n

538198_513616132010040_2072911417_n

557125_423758327662488_1721293012_n

Deep Breaths

Last night, Leroy was exuberantly running around the house, showing off for my parents.  He was flashing his big pit bull grin when he jumped onto Grandma and Grandpa’s bed, quickly lifted his leg, and peed on their duvet cover.

Bad dog..

Bad dog..

People of the world often anthromorphize these types of behaviors, either by saying something like, “Leroy was being spiteful because I made him take a nap in my bedroom”, or “Leroy felt so sorry after he peed on the bed.  He knew he was wrong.”

Well, people of the world; I can promise you that Leroy made no connection between his earlier nap in my bedroom, nor knew that he had done something wrong.  He was simply interrupted and ran away happily.  WHYYYYY??  Why Leroy??

These are the moments I look at him for .3 seconds and say, “Mommy doesn’t love you anymore”, in the sweetest voice I can muster.  Then he’ll do something so cute, it hurts my heart.  Last night his move was cuddling on the couch between me and his Grandma, and propping his head up on her knee, making the best squishy face that ever did exist.  Falling asleep on her with squinty eyed bliss, even Grandma forgot we were mad at the Pudding.  All returns to normal soon after the incident.

But again! The following morning Leroy wants to push my buttons again!  Leroy darling, I am a patient mamma, but you’re making me crazy!  Though for Leroy, I had to accept that he was not trying to make me crazy.  He was simply stressed out, overwhelmed, and unable to handle the situation.  Between the two barking mongrels across the street that run the barrier of their electric fence, the strange collection of men in the backyard with the landscaping company, and the gaggle of seventeen year old kids playing basketball and roughhousing in the pool; Leroy was like WTF?! And I was like WTF?!  These are the moments when I trust my dear friend Christine to tolerate my mental breakdown.  I text her and say, “I’d like to return Leroy and exchange him for a better dog”.  And she says, “No.  You love him too much.  And no one else wants him”.  This of course, is all in jest.  I wouldn’t give up Leroy if you pried him out of my cold, hard grasp.  He is my true love and favorite creature on this planet.  But still, we all are allowed to go over threshold every once in awhile 😉

It’s going to be a long summer…

223558_513616048676715_459274198_n

I am constantly reminded to respect Leroy’s limits, as well as my own.  So as I type this, Leroy is in his “Safe Place” of my bedroom.  He was too stressed out watching the big kids play in the pool, plus he needed a nap after our exhilarating afternoon walk.  And yaknow what?  That is OK.  I’d rather keep him safe and calm than push his limits.  I am working to be the best guardian that I can.  That includes knowing when and how to protect my dog from stress.  And even though he drives me crazy, I love him more than words can express.  So I am happy to do this for him.

On a lighter note, we do have an exciting announcement to make!  Check back tomorrow for that 😉   And until then, deep breaths!

If you have any suggestions or force free training articles on how to stop territory marking, please send them my way!  Also, please comment with any questions or topics you would like me to write about.  🙂

Progress!

 

 

 

 

So if you read my letter to Leroy or noticed my lack of blogging, you may have gathered that I’ve been a little bit busy.  But I’m back!  This month I received my MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  (WOOT! If you’re interested in the other half of my life, you can check that out)  I will be busy and working to figure life out, as always.   But I promise to start providing more regular updates on Leroy’s progress!  However, it was a good time to take a blogging break, because Leroy is officially on Prozac (it takes 6 weeks to see any noticeable changes).  So I am ready and able to say that we are making progress!  But I am 100% certain that this progress is a combination of Prozac and very diligent training.  The Prozac is helping Leroy to stay under threshold more easily, and the training is giving him something active and productive to do when he becomes stressed out or overwhelmed.  It had been a great combination!  Not without mistakes, meltdowns, or errors of course.  But the overall trend has been progress.

Leroy is more capable of coping with a slowly moving cat in the distance, or even a very still cat a few feet away!  He uses his new favorite command, “Look at that”, to find something that is exciting and chase-worthy.  When he sees the exciting kitty, he has a moment.  Maybe we’ll call it a mental freak out.  He sees the cat and he wants to chase it!  That’s what he knows- that’s what he does!  But then he remembers- If he sees something exciting and he looks up at mom, he gets treats!  Good boy Leroy, good boy 🙂

We are still struggling with skateboards.  Those buggers are a challenge.  But we had a nice moment yesterday with a boy walking past us who was holding a skateboard.  Leroy didn’t quite go over threshold, but he was crying and worked up about it.  On the one hand, I could have been upset.  He wasn’t even riding the skateboard, he was just carrying it!  But on the other hand, I knew what to do!  And guess what?! Leroy knew what to do!  I waited Leroy out while he had a minor freak out… and then he gave me a very nice look away.  YES!  Good boy Leroy, Michaela would be proud.  🙂  Leroy got a nice reward and we left!

I goez for nap nao

I goez for nap nao.

 

Sorry for the delay in posting.  Please comment if you have any questions, post suggestions or anything at all!

 

Sponsor us here– 5k Race to Rescue