Since Phoebe’s first few play dates with Olive had been so successful I was confident that we could slowly start spending more time with other dogs as long as I was careful of the situation and kept an eye on her comfort levels. Another strong motivator to get this process moving was the need to get Phoebe a friend for the long, lonely days. To me it looks like she’s starting to be less upset at being left at home alone, which means that though I’m happy to see the major separation anxiety decreasing, it is important to keep her happy and stimulated so that her progress continues without her becoming destructive or ‘acting out’ because of boredom.
Over the past year I’ve also been keeping an eye on the Barking Mad facebook page – an umbrella rescue organisation that helps 100’s of shelters and rescue organisations in South Africa to network their animals – until I saw a particular post that really just “spoke” to me. His name is “Droopy”, and he sounds perfect.
BUT… I learned through my ordeal with adopting Phoebe what mistakes not to make again. This time I want to do an adoption properly and see the dog, visit him, set up playdates with Phoebe to see her reaction etc. If we’re gonna do this, let’s do it carefully and mindfully!
I’m now happy to report that the first meeting has gone swimmingly well, and Droopy is clearly a truly lovable dog who deserves a loving home and family! At first Phoebe was very agitated when she spotted him on the other side of the plot that he was at, and barked, lunged, growled and was generally very vocal about her distaste of seeing this strange black dog across the way. To Droopy’s credit, he just calmly sat there sniffing and casting a curious eye in her direction – clearly Phoebe wasn’t upsetting him and he knew to just patiently carry on his merry way.
After a brief walk and slow introductions with lots of treats and praise Phoebe was calming down and becoming ready to learn more about this new dog. We went for a long walk through the veld with both of them, and within minutes they both seemed comfortable, and even opted to calmly walk along side each other without any aggression or problems.
I hear from the current dog carer that he is often found snuggling with the local wild cats, so I think he should be ok with my feline children too. I don’t want to talk too soon, or make a commitment without lots of thought, but in the meantime I’m overjoyed that if nothing else, Phoebe has had yet another succesful playdate – and this time with a dog who is a stranger. Well done Phoebe!
Phoebe’s Effectiveness Summary:
Issue Addressed: Socialisation, Fear
Tool(s) Used: Basic Obedience, Treats and Praise
Cost: Low. If your dog is well socialised, all you need to do is keep setting up play dates! This can be at home, in parks, going for picnics etc
Ease of Implementation: Easy to Moderate. Once you know what signs to look for, and can implement your knowledge of training and body language this becomes easier and easier. The fact that I knew how to read Phoebe’s level of discomfort and when to distract and engage her saved a lot of stress and avoided a potentially explosive situation.
Phoebe’s Effectiveness Rating: 4/5. It took a long time for Phoebe to feel 100% comfortable and to leave my side, but once she did she was calm and accepted the situation.
Keep an eye on the blog to see if we decide to adopt or foster lovely Droopy!