Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Surviving Puppy hood

Meet Asha

On our way home from the Rev3 triathlon Sunday afternoon, we stopped at the Humane Society and picked up Asha. On the way out to the car, the volunteer from the shelter said "this is the true definition of a rescue". He put Asha in the car with us and waved goodbye.

We got home and started to acclimate her to the house. She immediately started to map out the rooms, running into the couch, the walls, etc. We leashed up all 3 dogs and took them out for a walk so that Buster and Maggie would realize Asha was part of our pack. They walked so amazingly well together. Asha followed along with us and wasn't an issue at all. She did lay down a few times in some soft yards. She must be exhausted!

We came back home and let her explore. When she got confused, she would turn around in a tight circle and bark. They had told us about this behavior and we wanted to stop it. So every time she did that, we would stop her, make her sit (by pushing her butt down) and pet her. This little deaf dog has the loudest bark you have ever heard. Actually, its a puppy's bark, it sounds just like every other puppy - loud and bone shaking.

We used treats to get her to do the things we wanted and every time I gave her a treat, I pushed her butt to the ground. As of today, she has been trained to sit - when you give her a treat, she sits down before she takes it. We pat her several times on her side when we say "good dog". The idea is to come up with signs and be consistent about what they mean. We started working on that from the first moments.

Bedtime came and I knew it would be a long night. I was hoping she'd sleep. But she didn't and neither did the rest of us. Just like when we brought Maggie home, she was fussy, confused and restless. We took her out to go to the bathroom twice - in an effort to start pottie training. We also need to train her to use the stairs. All of this was requiring alot of patience and I was SO tired. I didn't want to be patient! But I knew that in order to sleep through the night at some point in the near future, we had to do these things now.

I thought of my friends who have children and again realized that I could never be a mother to a human child! I also thought several times that most of these issues were because of Asha's age, not because she couldn't see or hear.

We finally got up and came downstairs around 4:30 am and of course, all the dogs fell sound asleep on the couch!!

Later in the morning I emailed Asha's foster dad and asked some questions about how he had been training her. He gave me some great advice that has already made a big difference. Trevor spent most of the day home with Asha. She slept and explored the house. He took them all for a walk again and she seemed to be settling in.

She is an animal around food. When we put the bowl down she will sprawl out on the floor and bury her head in the bowl. I expect that will change over time as she realizes that she will get enough food. She has the downstairs and backyard pretty well figured out. She is always on the go - checking things out. She has realized where the end of the deck is and doesn't fall off. She jumps off the couch and goes to lay in her kennel. She plays with the other dogs, although they are all still trying to figure each other out. Buster and Maggie don't know why Asha doesn't seem to see or hear them and Asha can't track them just quite yet. But there is a desire to play with each other and that will just grow over time.

Our friends Diane and Dane came over on Monday morning and Asha met them. She wasn't scared of them, in fact, she was very interested! The liver cubes that they brought might have something to do with that!!!

Monday night was better. We had used some of the tricks that her foster dad told us about and they made a HUGE difference. She isn't doing the circle and bark thing hardly at all anymore. She slept on her dog bed next to our bed most of the night. Got up once to go to the bathroom, then back to sleep.

Tuesday I spent the day with her and really all she did was sleep. She moved around the house but really liked being under the table amongst the chair legs.

And she really loves to snuggle
We are exhausted, there is not doubt about that. But the love we feel for and from this little one makes it all okay. She is so sweet. When we are walking her and we come across a neighbor, she gets excited. She will realize there is someone new around and she wants to meet them. When you are deaf and blind, your other senses are stronger and her sense of smell is off the charts! I was cooking some ground beef while she was sleeping and once she got a whiff, she came from the other room to find it! If you watch her run around the yard or the house, you really forget that she can't see or hear. Sometimes she looks up at me as if she can see me, but looking at her eyes, I know she can't. She is pure love, unfiltered joy and abundant life. We are so blessed to have her as a part of our family.

We know that once she starts sleeping through the night, we will all feel better. Hopefully that comes soon.

We got some Doggles for her - goggles for dogs. We plan to have her wear these when we are out and about, especially when we are on long walks on the path or at the park - that way she doesn't get poked by a branch. She doesn't seem too excited about them, but Buster thinks maybe he needs a pair too!!

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