Friday, August 28, 2015

River, the Story of a Trainer's Dog who Needs to be Trained: Part 1

My friend Katy, who calls me her 'puppy pimp' since I found her the two puppies she adopted this year, told me I should write about my puppy, River.  She thinks that other people might like to learn about my experience with him, and feel better in the knowledge that even I deal with day-to-day issues with my dog.  I will be the first to admit that we have good days and bad days, and I am trying harder with him than probably any other dog I've ever had.
This story starts in September of 2014.  Along with my boyfriend, John, I decided to adopt a new puppy. My dog, Paisley, was 5 at the time, and I thought, in my infinite wisdom that it would be a good age for her to get a puppy.  She wants you to know that she highly disagrees with me.  We wanted to get either a Boxer or a Lab, and looked around at a few rescues, with Safe Harbor Lab Rescue being one of them since I adopted Paisley from them.  There was a litter of lab mix puppies that would be available at the end of October.  We met our puppy, Milo, at 4 weeks old, and brought him home at 8 weeks old.  He was the best, sweetest, calmest, most wonderful puppy and I wondered how we got so lucky!
Milo at 8 weeks
Unfortuantely, when he was 16 weeks old, Milo developed severe bi-lateral pneumonia and went in to the hospital for what was going to be a week-long stay for treatment.  At 6am the first morning, the doctor called and said Milo has gone in to cardiac arrest, probably had an embolism, and died.  She said 'We did everything we could to save him'.  I was in shock, not awake yet, and asked her "Can we come say goodbye to him?" We held him for over an hour and left without him. That was the hardest day of my life.  It was a week before Christmas and we were all devastated.
The next morning, John and I were both up before dawn, still crying and wondering what happened to our beautiful puppy.  I said 'I want to get another puppy right away' and he agreed. I searched online and found a rescue who had a little Boxer mix puppy who would be available for adoption the next day.  Under his cute little fawn and black face, it said his name was 'Milo'.  Clearly, it was meant to be, and I paid for him and filled out the paperwork on the spot.  We decided to name him 'River', which means 'renewed life, courage, and determination'.
River at 8 weeks
(John is a firefighter so we took pictures on the truck of both puppies)
In my emotional fog, what I didnt realize is that River was from a litter that was transported in from New Mexico. His mom is a pure-bred Boxer (we met her) and dad isn't saying. But he is what I call a 'reservation dog'. In my professional experience, I know that reservation dogs (dogs who come from rural areas, mostly New Mexico, Kansas, Texas, Wyoming, etc), tend to have more genetic fear.  I wrote about the subject in this blog .
I was not anticipating ever adopting a puppy with major issues, but River certainly has them.  He was afraid of people, shy with dogs, skittish with sounds and objects (he was terrified of garbage cans on the road and fire hydrants, which is very ironic!), he barked at everything and nothing, submissively urinated, shook in terror, and his ears were always pinned back to his head like something bad was always going to happen. I felt so bad for him!  He lived in a constant state of panic, and I set out to help him, just like I would for any client's dog.
Stay tuned for what I did to help him!

1 comment:

Perrie Jinnie said...

Giving obedience training to a puppy can be a very herculean task. You need to have a patience. Thank you for posting such an interesting and informative post.

Best Regards,
Perrie Jinnie
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