Sunday, February 24, 2013

Justice's Third Week in Lakewood

Justice's 3rd Week in Lakewood 2/24/13
Justice has had a pretty amazing week. I just can't help thinking that his progress was somehow connected to Buddy's passing. He heard my initial crying on the phone with the vet, as he delivered the bad news, since I was right next to his crate. Did Justice intuit from my sadness and grief that this was truly a household that cherishes dogs? Did Buddy pass his mantle on to Justice, awakening him to the fact that he has a natural capacity for teaching and healing just as Buddy himself did? Animal communicators have been offering exactly that information about Justice right from the beginning. I guess time will tell.
justice week 3 peeking
Justice peeking from behind the crate.
justice week 3 behind crate
Justice hanging out outside the crate.
Justice has willingly expanded his world in quite a few ways I am happy to report. My goal is to offer him opportunities to feel safe while successfully experiencing novel and unfamiliar situations. At the same time, I endeavor to make them open-ended so that he can exceed any expectations. And that he has!
He continues to consistently use the puppy pads outside of his kennel. He has a great appetite and eats everything offered without exception. His stool has gone from unhealthy to very healthy. His eyes continue to soften, and his body and movements are more fluid. I changed from 4 drops of Rescue Remedy in his water bowl, which was indicated since his entire life was an emergency, to Star of Bethlehem, which is helpful for releasing trauma and dealing with grief. I believe that has helped.
Since he received some new toys this week, I decided to incorporate them into my assessment of what he is capable of now. Instead of giving them to him in his crate as I had done with the previous ones, I decided to add a level of difficulty. I left each one outside of his crate, wondering if he would recognize what they were, if he would know they were for him, if he would engage or not, and then what he might do with each. After placing each toy, I departed so as to allow him to investigate. He definitely recognized them as toys as I heard him squeaking. I believe he really liked them, too, because each one had disappeared into his small crate by the time I returned. His little crate is really quite full of stuff!
He did take one thing into his crate that wasn't a toy - my knee high boot, almost as big as he is. I thought it was hilarious (because I found it before he chewed on it) and I was honored in some strange way that my smell was acceptable to him.
I loved hearing his vocalizations and noises this week - from the squeaking to the play growling to the howling to the bugling. The bugling happens first thing in the morning - is he hungry and calling for his food? When he first arrived I filled his food bowl back up every time he emptied it. I wanted him to know that there was no shortage. At first he ate all of the food and drank all of the water immediately. Then he began to leave some of it. Now I have him on the same schedule as the other animals and he seems quite satisfied with that arrangement.
I usually set his food outside the crate at varying distances. I am able to remain in the kitchen while he comes out to eat. At first, I stood absolutely still at the farthest point, but have gradually been able to not only move closer, but to prepare my food while he eats. My back is turned toward him so he can keep an eye on me without needing to make eye contact. It is very exciting to witness him building a tolerance for my presence and my movements. After a very big step like this, I reward him by leaving and doing just easy things for awhile. For example, he is very comfortable eating treats at a distance from his crate as I am leaving the kitchen. We follow up with that.
I leave his crate open every chance I get, including when the other dogs don't need to go through the kitchen into the yard, when I leave home and during the night. I can hear him wandering around the kitchen. He has destroyed my paper shopping bag stash, which was not secured adequately, and he took the orange peels out of a bag hanging on the door knob. I was so happy to see his puppy/dog-like behavior coming forth.
Beginning on Wednesday of this week, he has been standing by the outside door when I initially enter in the mornings. He never panicked but just stood still to see what I was going to do. Each day he has been more and more relaxed being out in the kitchen when I enter. He is out more than once during a day now. Today he lay down on one side of the small kitchen and ate the treats I placed near him. The photos show him outside of, and on the far side of the crate. I believe it is extremely important that he doesn't feel that he needs the crate for protection. I'm not trying to touch him or get close to him, just placing treats, with my body language conveying I'm not threatening and won't invade his space.
He appears to be intrigued by the outside smells and sounds coming through the door. I'm devising a plan of how to help him go outside. As of yet, he still doesn't have a collar on because of his neck wound. I don't want to prematurely attempt to dress him in a harness and create a negative association with something that should signify enjoyment and fun. I know that if I just opened the door, I would not be able to get him back, so I need a safe way to allow him to explore when he is completely ready. My sense is that he will help me figure it out just as he has helped me see what to do in these other circumstances. I am relying on his strong desires and motivations - food, toys, curiosity - to propel him toward additional successful challenges.
He seems more comfortable with the presence of the other dogs as well. I still leave him closed in and covered with the sheet when they are around. But he eats, drinks, moves around and squeaks his toy. I am able to do things in the kitchen filled with dogs, and he doesn't seem worried or distressed from what I can hear.
I'll close with the most touching of all. When I walked into the kitchen on Friday, he was standing at the outside door as usual. He looked at me as usual. And then, AND THEN, for the very first time, HE WAGGED HIS VERY LONG TO THE GROUND TAIL!!!!!!! Just a little. He wagged it back and forth a little hesitantly, but definitely in a good way as a greeting, however small. I so wished I had a tail to wag back. I stopped, smiled, dropped a treat, said 'thanks Justice' and left soon after. Wow! Our little dog is on his way back to us.
We currently have $450 in donations earmarked for Justice's long term care. If you'd like to help him:
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