Maggie (a.k.a Morgan) and Reilly’s Tales of Woe…
I began transporting with AADR after our elderly doxie, Harry, died. We still had Bess, who is a survivor of severe neglect. My husband said he could not go through the death of another dog, and determined that we could not bring another doxie into the house. So I began volunteering with AADR.
We met Maggie on a transport. She had been pulled from a puppy mill a couple of weeks earlier, and was on her way to foster. She was scrawny, frightened, nearly bald, and had no muscle tone. She could hardly bear her own weight. Bill immediately fell in love with her and we put in an application for her. We were approved and picked her up the following weekend.
She had no socialization whatsoever. She only pottied on the piddle pads in the house. Finally after two weeks we had some nice weather. I walked the little feet off her! We stayed out in the yard for 3 hours and she finally pottied…after that she really started to get it! She was fairly easy because she wanted to please. She still does not like to go on walks. She is a couch potato who likes to sit beside you and play in the house. She learned everything quickly.
Reilly was another story altogether. His webpage said
Riley is a very special case, he came from IN and from the time he was a puppy he was not socialized and because of that he’s fearful of anything new. He is very bonded to his foster dad but not his foster mom. For that reason we would say no women as Riley is a man’s man. We don’t know why he’s this way but he just doesn’t trust foster mom like he does dad. He appears to be afraid of his foster mom for whatever reason but please don’t let this scare you, if you are a man and wife and you’re looking for a dachshund for the husband because wife already has her dachshund then Riley is the man for you. He will take a while to warm up to dad but once he does he’s your shadow and follows you from room to room or in the yard if you need to be out there. When foster dad has to go away I sit and wait for his return, I love that guy and I like to sleep with him too!!
If you have the time and patience to work with Riley and help him get over his fear of the unknown then you’ll be rewarded with years of love and devotion. Please give Riley a forever home this time!
When we picked him up on the transport, he was not to be taken out of the crate until we got home. He whined, cried, howled, and growled all the way home. When we got home, he would not come out of the crate. He cowered in the back of the crate. He pottied in the crate, and he still would not come out. He was so scared! Bill’s first thought was “What have we done?” But we were determined to give Reilly the best home we were capable of giving him.
Bill gained his trust fairly quickly. True to form (and his description), he followed Bill everywhere – waited outside the bathroom door, the cellar door, the garage door, and slept as close to Bill as he could possibly be. He hung on Bill’s every move.
As for me, Reilly only growled and showed his teeth, he did not trust me at all. I worked from home most days, but he would not come near me. If I looked his way, he would growl, show teeth, and pee on the floor. He bit me when I tried to harness him. He would hide, growl and pee. If he was sitting on Bill’s lap at night and I reached over to pet him, he growled (and a couple of times he peed on Bill). LOL! Most importantly, we NEVER disciplined him! We only reinforced that he was safe and no one would ever hurt him again.
If Bill was home, Reilly paid me no mind, so I didn’t even try! Generally, I started keeping treats with me to encourage Reilly to come to me, or to reward him. He eventually started to sit on my lap while I worked. If I moved at all, he would run away – and pee on the floor. Every time I thought we were making headway, we backtracked. I became quite discouraged. After he realized he would not be in trouble, he began to spend more time on my lap or beside me.
I figured my way to Reilly was through Bill (and food)…So I stated putting his harness on and holding his leash while we walked. Eventually he allowed me to do it when we were home alone. He got small treats for cooperation. If he does anything cute, or comes when he is called, or plays nicely, he gets a small treat.
I learned TONS of things from Diane! Everything needed to be on Reilly’s terms, and very slow. He needed to be constantly rewarded, and NEVER disciplined. He needed to figure out that he could trust me. If he showed fear, I backed off immediately (unless he was in imminent danger, of course). A lot of our progress was food driven. I do all the feeding in the house now, so he associates me with food. He also came to know that there were treats available for all good behaviors. Whenever he got a treat, he also got patted on the head and told he was a good boy. He got treats when he pottied outside. He has gotten quite good at that, so I started introducing “Good Boy!” in place of a treat.
Diane also helped me understand that when Reilly peed on the floor it had nothing to do with his being un-tidy or un-cooperative, it had everything to do with his letting me know that I was the alpha and he was being submissive to me. I tried to reduce my eye contact with him until he became more comfortable that I greeted and made eye contact with the other dogs, and I would look at him and greet him as well.
A lot of our progress has been the result of time. Reilly has not peed on the floor in several weeks. When I get home from work, he joins the other dogs in greeting me; allows me to make eye contact with him and greet him; we prepare for our walk, and off we go. Then all of a sudden, one day he followed me into the bedroom. I was lying on the bed playing with Maggie. Reilly wanted to join the play – I thought we were making real progress! I encouraged him to join the play. I erroneously made eye contact with him and he peed all over me and the bed. He ran to hide. I didn’t make eye contact again, I petted him, I told him it was okay and that he was a good dog…then I quickly stripped the bed!
I try to pay very little mind to Reilly. I let him come to me. No matter what I am doing, I am sure to always have a kind word, a treat, and a pat on the head.
The beginning was SO SLOW! He came to us on February 2. We are now 8 months in, and finally I feel like we are making some real progress. The puppy mill dogs and the pups who have survived abuse/neglect can be the toughest because they really need to learn to trust, possibly for the very first time. Every sight, every sound, every single thing is new to them; and they are scared! They have to know they are secure and protected. I have had to be so careful to NOT chastise him. I only praise him. If something frightens him while we are outside, and he tries to hide behind me, I allow him to do that and then encourage him to continue walking. I reinforce that he is protected and safe. If something really frightens him and he does not want to walk, I sit down on the pavement, I let him come to me for comfort. When he feels better, we continue walking. On a couple of occasions, I have had to gently lift him up and walk a few feet while holding him.
Every time I feel like we have hit plateau, or things have gotten about as good as it is going to get, we make a little progress. Last night when we got into bed, Reilly walked over to me, curled up and asked for belly rubs! Not only has Reilly never slept with me, he has never asked for belly rubs! He guards his belly at all costs! He does not like being in a submissive position; however, he has begun to be more relaxed. He will now roll on his back when we are in the same room – the ultimate display of trust!
One more thing! On Memorial Day weekend we had our 7-year-old granddaughter for the weekend. She was explicitly instructed to ignore Reilly; she could play with Maggie and Bessie, but was to pay no mind to Reilly because he is scared of everything! By Sunday morning, Reilly was seeking out Rachel to play!