12 Weeks 6 Days- Fear Period

Oct 6, 2004 | Stitch's Story

My family is happy – good harvest coming in. I’m miserable – allergies, can’t think, can’t walk, can’t stay awake. No actual training for several days.

This has, however, given me a chance to sit back and observe the puppy as a person, rather than a training subject. What a fascinating person! She rollicks through life. Oops, can’t eat the pen? OK, I’ll eat the stuffy monkey. Whee, free food! Whatcha got? Can I have it? Wait, wait, I gotta RUUUUUNNNN. Ooh, I found a piece of paper! It’s crinkly! What? Go out? I’m sleepy, can you carry me? Are you watching me? I’m watching YOU! Look out, I’m a TIGER.

Exhausting just thinking about it, really. Hard to be depressed with that kind of life going on around you.

Remember the fear period I was looking for? Here it is. She loves people up close and in familiar settings, but people at a distance are a little scary (just for sec, until they resolve into People – oh! You’re a People! Good!)

Strange places have become strange. I take both dogs up to the bathroom to hang while I have a bath. This is hard for her. At first I think she might be just bored with no toys to play with, then I realize that the whining is because she’s in a strange place. I talk to her and she finally settles down on my clothes and has a nap. Then when the water cools off some (I need a hot bath to ease the pain in my muscles) I hold her and lie back down in the water. A little more anxious whining, but her body language is fairly relaxed. More reaction to being in a strange situation than any opinion of the water. After a while I put her in the bath. It’s deep enough to float her feet just off the bottom. I hold her chin to be sure she doesn’t drop it into the water, which stabilizes her. To my surprise, she hangs motionless in the water as if I was holding her.

She smells better when she’s dry.

When we go for a walk, I ask her to Park It and she plants her butt securely to the floor and jams her muzzle into the collar. Remember the bucking and kicking under the same circumstances last week?

This morning I drive around the yard to make sure the grain dryers are working, so I take her with me. Hmmm. Not the same, riding in a truck cab in a crate, and riding in a truck cab sitting on the seat. I end up holding her in my lap, wound up under my arm with her little puppy muzzle under my ear, whining a little. When I’m done, we sit in the car until she relaxes. So from now on the dogs get fed in a different room of the house, or a different vehicle, every meal.

I’m so grateful that I can see her fear as a step in her growth, rather than a misbehaving temper. What Scuba learned from being treated like this is that if she’s frightened of something, she can come to me and I’ll make it safe.

We’ve added to the night ritual. I get two dog cookies, and the girls run to the back door. When they’ve both peed outside, they run in, straight into their crates, spin and wait for their cookies. Goodnight, little princess.