Adoption Date: 8/28/2019
August 29, 2019:
Katie has found her forever home.
August 20, 2019:
Katie Bear has made tremendous progress in the past few weeks. Being petted...and that means constantly petted.... has become her most important objective. Whether sitting next to my chair, laying at my feet, or resting her head on my knee, it is always with the expectation or hope that petting will ensue. She even attempts to wake me at night by laying her head on the bed, whining or nudging my arm.
Her socialization skills have also taken a leap forward. The other day I had friends over, which is usually her signal to hide in the bedroom. But this time, with her foster sister leading the way, she came up to my friends to accept treats, and allowed several of them to pet her. It’s as though that in discovering the wonder of petting, she’s willing to accept it wherever it’s offered.
I also recently tested her potty training. She hasn’t had an accident in the house for a long time. However, I have been letting her out when she wakes up in the middle of the night. I stopped letting her out to see if she could make it through the night. She still wakes up occasionally, and paces or whines, but if I ignore her, she will settle and sleep through the the rest of the night.
She still has much to learn, and needs to have her new skills reinforced, but I think that this could be accomplished in the right forever home.
July 18, 2019:
Katie continues to blossom as her trust grows. In the last update I shared that she now allows petting. In addition to drive-by petting opportunities I described in my last update, she will now sit in front of my chair to wait either to be petted or for her favorite...a foot rub. If I slide down to sit on the floor with her she enjoys being petted and will eventually lay down and rest her head on my leg. For a fearful dog, laying down increases vulnerability, so it is a big act of trust. She still won’t come to me when called and we’re working on it, but she willing does anything else she can to put herself in a position to be petted. At night, however, when I lay in bed, the rules change, and she will come to the side of the bed, and whine or nudge me to be petted. In fact she has started to do this several times a night, and sometimes I just need to ignore her or I will get little sleep.
In the last update I reported that she will come into the house when I call her. That has now improved to the point that when I get to the door she is already there waiting for me.
I’ve had her hips x-rayed and it confirmed my suspicion that she has some arthritis going on. I’ve put her on a couple meds. I see a new spring in her step and she gets up and down easier. She seems more animated and curious. She will stand with Clara at the front window to watch the bunnies and bark at them. Who knew she could bark?
She went to the groomer for a shampoo and trim. While it was a bit traumatic at the time, she recovered almost immediately when she got home. She is also losing weight and in my highly prejudiced opinion, she is drop-dead gorgeous!
In addition to continuing to build trust, my two major goals are teaching her basic obedience, especially the ‘come’ command, and building her confidence and trust in other people.
In another couple months I hope she will be ready for adoption.
June 29, 2019:
Apparently Katie has had a permanent change of heart. Although she still doesn’t walk up to me to be petted, she has her own ways of clearly letting me know that she’s ready for a petting event.
The first one that showed up is what I call a Drive-by Petting Opportunity or the DPO. Where she previously would quickly walk away if I approached or walked by, now she will stop and wait to or petted. At first this was infrequent, but the frequency has been increasing to the point that sometimes it is difficult to navigate across a room. She stops. I pet her, and then walk on. She walks ahead of me and stops again to be petted. I pet her and the process repeats.
The other is the “I just thought I’d check for snacks” or IJTCS. That is where she walks up to the end table next to me, barely within arm’s reach, presumably to check for snacks. However, where she previously would walk away if I tried to pet her, now she just stands there, and allows petting to occur.
Between DPOs and IJTCSs there is a lot of petting going on. The gold standard of petting is still being able to call her to me to be petted, so that’s what we’ll be working on next.
There have been a number of other signs that her trust level is increasing. She now sleeps in my room most nights. She will take treats from my hand. Instead of moving away when I prepare her food, she waits near me while I put it together. The newest sign just showed up for the first time. Usually if I get up to move around the house, she will get up and move away. Yesterday she simply lifted her head and stayed where she was. It seems like there are a lot of new signs showing up recently.
I’m very proud of Katie Bear. She’s was a slow starter, but seems to be picking up the pace of her rehab.
June 15, 2019:
Caring for Katie is a bit of a roller coaster ride. One day she will take what I consider to be a major step, and the next day she will revert to her previous behavior. For example, on two occasions she has approached me to be petted, but there was 2-3 weeks between these events. There are a couple of improvements that appear to be stable. She continues to do well with potty training. No accidents in the past couple months. Also, she usually comes in to the house when I call her. Sometimes it takes more encouragement than others, but eventually she comes in and I don’t need to herd her around the yard. She has also started coming in when I call her for her meals. Then there are the mini-improvements which I hope suggests more trust. She comes closer to me when I’m sitting in the chair, although there still seems to be a barrier at about a foot from my reach. She is not adverse, however, to trying to steal food from the table next to me, and other mischievous behavior. She comes into the bedroom for good night treats. Instead of racing past me when we meet in the hallway, she stops and lets me pass. Also, several times I’ve approached her with an open hand, and instead of running away she stops and allows me to approach and pet her. More than anything however, she seems to be happy. She has discovered the bunnies in the yard and will post herself at a spot in the yard where she can keep a close eye on their movements. She sneaks toys and takes them outside. Sometimes I think she doesn’t make improvement faster because she’s content with things as they are.
May 14, 2019:
I want to share some changes that have occurred in the last couple days. Remember that I told you Katie would get up a couple times during the night, and I’d let her out. About 4 nights ago I decided to see what would happen if I didn’t let her out. As it turns out she didn’t have to go potty, she was just lonely. She would get up and started crying, but I ignored her. Eventually, she laid down in my bedroom and went back to sleep. The last 4 days I haven’t let her out during the night. Either I ignore her or say something reassuring and she goes back to sleep. She hasn’t had an accidental, she sleeps later, and I haven’t had to get up to let her out! Whoopee!
Today I took Katie and Clara on a walk to the park. She loves it and she walks in a leash like a dream. We sat on the grass for a while, and she seemed to love having me pet her. If I stopped she would look to me as if to say ‘more, please’. After a while she laid down and seemed to really relax. Now all I have to do is transfer that behavior to home without the leash.
It is a good day.
April 23, 2019:
The potty training is going well. Katie still has not had an accident in the house. I have been working at extending the periods between letting her out to potty at night. Two nights ago, even though she woke up, I didn't let her out the first time, and she eventually went back to sleep. I only had to let her out once that night. Last night I didn't let her out at all and she never woke up during the night. I woke up about 5 am and had to call her out of her room to go out.
I think I am making progress in getting her back into the house without having to herd her around the back yard. She has started to respond when I call her to come in. Sometimes she will come in while I'm standing by the door, and sometimes I need to go out to the patio and stand there while she works her way around me, but for the most part I don't need to actively herd her into the house.
Katie may learn something one day, and then act as if she had never learned it the next. It's so frustrating to me because one day I think she's made progress, and the next few days it's like it never happened.
The same kind of thing has happened with leaving her safe space. She still spends most of her time in the back bedroom, when she's not outside. About a week ago, in the evening she wandered into the living room and just walked around, sniffing things out. I was shocked when she laid down on the edge of the living room for a few seconds. A couple times she got up, wandered around and then laid down again. This whole event lasted probably less then 5 minutes, before she went back to the bedroom. I was so excited, because I thought this was a big act of trust, but for the next week there was no repeat. Then last night, after being outside for most of the day, she came in and picked up a sock from the bedroom, brought it into the living room and laid down and started to chew on it, just as casual as you please. I don't quite know what to think. Is it progress when it doesn't seem to stick? Unfortunately, I had to take the sock away because she was tearing it apart and I was afraid she'd eat it. I replaced it by offering her a soft chew toy (which my dogs usually never get).
Before this happened, I was seriously thinking of talking to the vet about some medication. I'm not a fan of anxiety meds. But now I'm not so sure. Maybe it will just take more time and patience, and I'll need to accept that her style is "fits and starts" rather than "steady forward".
She has shown no sign of wanting to get near to me anytime soon, except for the occasional toe sniff. I'm not sure if her responding to my call is a small sign of trust.
One thing for sure, she loves being outside. The warm, dry weather the last couple days has been a blessing. She is spending most of the day outside watching the bunnies in the neighbor’s yard or just sitting in the sun. It seems to relax her and she's more willing to come in when I call.
April 13, 2019:
Just wanted to share an update on Katie. She seems delighted with her new yard. Even though she is fearful, she prances around with her tail held high and wagging like crazy. Kudos to her previous foster mom for the work she did. Katie was introduced to my dogs and they are great friends.
I set up two ‘safe places’ for her to choose from. She ignored both and decided her space would be the back room where I keep my dog’s crates. She has been there most of the day, and sleeps there at night. My biggest concern was that she had frequent accidents in the house during the night.
I am thrilled to report she has not yet had an accident. Of course that means the first couple days I was up at 12:30 am, 2:30 am, and finally getting up at 5:00 am. I’m slightly sleep deprived but happy.
Yesterday was very special for a number of reasons. First, she now goes outside and comes back in without my having to stand well away from the door. This is the first indication that trust is building. Previously, I either had to herd her in and out, or back into a corner and look away. Second, she has discovered the toys. She will grab a bone and take it back to her room, but even more exciting, a couple times she laid down in the living room to chew her toy.
And third, and most rewarding, she never woke me up to go outside! I still woke up at 1:30 and let her out, but I slept longer and woke up because I needed to go to the bathroom, not because Katie did. This is a good indication I’ll be able to increase the time between her outings, and maybe some day sleep through the night.
I’m starting to see changes in her behavior. Even though she doesn’t approach me, she doesn’t avoid coming anywhere near me, and I’m starting to see the “it’s okay to pet me in passing” stage. I’m very hopeful. I don’t attempt to pet her, and I am waiting patiently for her to take the lead. Thanks for this opportunity.
April 9, 2019:
Katie is settling in to her new home. She has spent much of the day investigating her yard, prancing around with her tail held high and waving. The expression on her face actually looks like she’s smiling. She was introduced to her roommates, Clara and Rudy, and they hit it off immediately. We were fortunate to have a beautiful day, and the challenge was to get them to come inside.
Katie has some fears and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to help her overcome these fears and find a forever home.
February 21, 2019:
Katie has been settling in to her new home. She is very shy and timid, but likes having her luxurious coat stroked and having soft words spoken to her. The stairs down to the walk-out basement were very scary, but with lots of help, she mastered going up and down. Learning to go potty outside has also been a new skill to attain. She is becoming more successful with this and can go to the basement door in order to be let out. Next, she needs to learn to bark to alert us of her needs. The other dogs have been patient with Katie, showing her how things are done. She loves going outside to romp in the snow, but only allows herself short visits. Katie spends most of her time in a crate, not venturing out far, unless to go downstairs. We look forward to getting time to snuggle and to see her personality emerge.
February 19, 2019:
Katie is new in foster care. More information will follow.