August 19th, 2015 Update:
It's been awhile since the last update. Rusty is loving life here in the quiet country community and continues to love his bike runs,ball chasing, and swimming when we can get it. We've been doing a lot of scent work, including tracking and article searches which he absolutely loves. Anything for a squeaky toy. One of his other favorite activities is to roll around on the bed and completely mess up the covers. Meeting new people continues to be a challenge, but with time and patience, he comes around to individuals. He's not really thrilled with the latest foster added to the mix, but adjusting well. His vision has not degraded while on the eye drops, which is good news. But he still has a difficult time seeing where the tennis balls land. Even more important for him to continue with scent work so he can find them.
February 13, 2015 Update:
Its been a very long time since the last update. Rusty has been changed to forever foster status due to his behavioral issues. He is quite comfortable here in a very quiet country setting. His ears got infected again and have been successfully treated. He is still using the eye drops for his early stage cataracts. I have discovered he has a somewhat sensitive stomach. Tried switching his food brand to one that had a little more fat and protein content, but not as high as the one previously tried, and he threw up multiple times over several days. It needed a vet trip to stop the vomiting and get his stomach enzymes back in check. He's fine now and back on his previous food brand. He continues to love the hide and seek game, with food or toys, but starts to get obsessive when I use the squeaky toys. So back to finding something that's not quite as high value. He continues to have some people re activity around folks he hasn't met. If I take my time, and the person is willing to work with me on the greetings, it goes well. However, most new people aren't always willing to do that, so... Continue to work on his touch and noise sensitivities as well. He just doesn't like things touching him or making noises. He is a continual work in progress, but a real love bug when he knows you. Its so sad to see him afraid of so much in the world.
Over the last month, I have seen a reduction in his overall stress level. He seems a lot more grounded and is not pacing and being as anxious all the time. I've actually been able to reduce his food intake as he's not burning off all that anxious energy. He is doing much better in larger groups of people and dogs (that he knows) and a thundershirt helps tremendously when the activity level starts to get to his worry threshold. I have been doing more scent games with him to help build confidence and refocus the brain. He really enjoys it and goes nuts for the squeeky toy I use....even more so than the tennis balls. He had his cataracts rechecked and so far there's only some small changes, but not enough to change the current drops he takes. He is enjoying the cooler weather and just loves to run. He is in good health and I continue to work with him on his fear issues.
September 4, 2014 Update:
I'm continuing to work with Rusty on meeting new people and new situations. He is getting a little quicker about warming up to strangers as the process of doing it is becoming more routine and a little more frequently. Its not always easy finding volunteers, so its not as frequent as I would like. Once he's met you though, he remembers the scent and subsequent visits go great...he runs to sit on our feet then throws his head up and back for pets. He had a bout of diarrhea that is now resolved...not sure why it started, but was a little stubborn with resolving. The little weight I had put on him is back off, but at least I know he can gain some. The humidity and heat has back us off the exercise some, but he loves to jump in the kiddie pool between ball retrieves. Trying to work some scent games in for him to use that good nose of his to help his fear. At least the thunder/lightning does not bother him...go figure. But thats good news.
July 22, 2014 Update:
Rusty not only loves to chase balls (has to be two) and swim (great dock diver), but he also loves to just go for a run. He will even run along side while I bike, at a nice heel even. His stamina is great, and as expected, he is less anxious when he has had a good workout. He got to spend a week with my 10 and 11 yr old niece and nephew. We took things very slowly and even though they are great with dogs, it took a while for him to warm up to them, particularly my nephew. In the end, he solicited pets and ball throwing, but he never completely let his guard down. Kids are just too unpredictable for him to be truly comfortable in their presence. I am starting to introduce some behavior adjustment tools for him, and we'll see how thats going in the next update. I finally got some pictures of him swimming, but couldn't get the dock diving shot I wanted.
June 21, 2014 Update:
Rusty's FH had a vacation planned so he got to spend about 10 days with another FH with two female goldens. They were all a little stressed at first, but then did great together. With all the travel, I have not had a lot of time to take him out in public for more socialization, but he has met one or two more folks with no issue...you just need to let him approach at his own speed, and of course it helps when he sees the other dogs getting all the attention. It certainly helps him determine the new person isn't that scary and that they will even pet him. We will be starting to look for the right home for him. He is medically cleared and he just needs a quiet home where distractions can be minimized. He is an absolute love bug and wonderful dog...he just can't handle a lot of commotion.
May 24, 2014 Update:
Due to Rusty's fear reactiveness, he was temporarily put at a boarding facility and then moved to another foster home. He is enjoying some country living with three other goldens and two cats. He loves hanging with the boys and going for walks in the woods and on the nearby bike path. We are doing a lot of different things to build his confidence and reduce his fear of new people. He has met several folks in different controlled situations and has done extremely well with introductions, particularly as he sees the other dogs getting attention, which he craves. As long as he gets to come to the person on his own terms, he seems to be fine. We've been taking it slow, but will start adding more distractions. He is quite thin, so we've added a probiotic to his food to help him with absorption of the nutrients. He's always hungry and I've never seen a dog spin so fast in circles when you're putting his food down. We've introduced toys gradually and there isn't any guarding issues, although Rusty prefers to have two tennis balls at all times. He also loves going through your legs and stopping half way so you can scratch his hind legs and then he does a butt dance. He must have been used to a kiddie pool, because he could not wait to hop in when I was filling ours up today. He and one of his foster brothers had no problem sharing the cool water. He's doing great and I am enjoying watching him come out of his shell and see the world isn't so scary after all.
April 22, 2014 Update:
What can we say about Rusty (Russel Wilson), Lover Boy, "Hunka Hunka Burning Love". He is so darned sweet and a perfect Velcro pup. Smart as a whip and ever willing to please. Didn't take him long to get our routines down and gain our trust. Once you are accepted as a "non-threat" you are his forever. Knows every command in the book and is a perfect gentleman when it comes to treats...very soft take away and will not grab them until you say "Okay". He definitely knows what "Off" "No" and "Drop It"means. "Sit" "Stay" and "Down" are all part of his vocab and work as well. "Stay" is another one of his best attributes with a finger pointed out. He won't budge til you put the finger down and say "Come". He loves to lay on the couch or bed with his humans as well. Wants to be where we are. His energy level is medium, walks super on leash right next to your side. No tugging or leading. We are taking it slow in introducing him to new people and especially new dogs because he isn't quite "sure". He does sit quietly on command and wait until they go by if on the other side of the street. Still a bit skittish with noises when we are outside but went through a small thunder shower yesterday without a problem...looks like his safe place is on our bed on my pillow, the little rascal. His cutest trick is what we call his "Whirling Dervish" when we bring his bowl of food out. He spins in circles and then reverses it until you put the food down. He is very good about not eating it until you say "Okay" then look out. We have been putting 2 tennis balls in the dish to slow him down which helps a bit. When he is finished he will put both balls in his mouth and bring them over to you to play. We were told he didn't like his teeth brushed nor his front paws touched. However I have brushed his teeth 4 nights in a row now, and have been trimming the overgrown hair off his paws with little problem. Nails...well I never did nails but would assume he might not like that at first. But he does shake with his paws on command. He is going to make some family, that has a somewhat quiet environment and patience to help him gain more confidence, a wonderful lover boy. We have been smitten by him ourselves. Next week or so our Vet said he would come to the house and give him his exam if we wish. He will be 6 in a few weeks, looks to be a bit skinny, but he is a long and lanky Boy. Not as tall as a lot of males I have seen and just a beautiful feathered tail. More on his progress next week as clicker training will begin. Oh and we will introduce him to the word "Bath" Will see how that goes. He keeps peering into the shower/tub all the time like he wants to get in. Worth a try.
April 16, 2014 Update:
Rusty was great during his ride to his foster home. He mostly slept, laying on his bed in the back. A few times he brought his head up close to my hand and was loving the touch and affection. What a sweet boy. He sauntered into our home, sniffed and explored. He's been playing with some of his toys and is one big Velcro boy. At moments he seems a bit nervous and stressed but this is to be expected on his first day. By day two, Rusty was loving the couch!!! Stay tuned for more updates as we get to know this nice boy.