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  • Writer's pictureMike

Rescuing Jake and Judy part 3

From the beginning, it was clear that we needed to build Jake and Judy's confidence, Jake more so than Judy. We needed to start by building their trust in us. As we talked about previously, we accomplished that by setting up each and every day to have the same routine. Consistency from day to day as much as that is possible was the name of the game. They were nervous to the point that any subtle change in the room was enough to stress Jake out. At first, something as simple as a chair being out of place was too much for him too handle. We had to start small and slow when introducing anything of difference no matter how small or trivial it seemed to be. A great example of how something small could affect Jake is that he came with a torn up bed that was absolutely disgusting. Something as simple as changing the bed to a new one was simply more than he could handle. They started their lives with us in our front living room. Their crates stayed in the living room at that time.

Their routine was simple. They got up in the morning and went outside to go to the bathroom. While they were outside, breakfast was prepared. They came back in and one of them ate in their crate and the other was loose in the living room. We know that Judy resource guards her food so we didn't want to risk anything going wrong. After breakfast, they were both loose in the living room so they could play with each other and the toys we provided them. After an hour of letting their food digest, they got a trip outside for a bathroom break and time to run around and be dogs. Keep in mind that at this stage, they are still separate from our dogs and on long lines so we can bring them back in easily.

After a couple of weeks of that routine and having had many polite interactions through the baby gates with our dogs, we introduced them to our dogs formally so that they could play together. By this time, Judy was off of her long line and coming when she was called in. Jake still struggled and we used Body to pick up his leash and bring it to us so we didn't have to approach him. Once in the house, Jake and Judy would excuse themselves to the front room where they felt most comfortable and our dogs largely stayed with us in the family room. The baby gates were left open so they could choose to come over if they wanted to. The important part here is that we gave them the choice to come over or not. Spending time with us was never forced upon them. Part of maintaining what trust we had and building more was to provide them with choices in their environment. Giving them the ability to choose is very empowering to them. Doing so showed them that they are not helpless to everything going on and that they are welcome to excuse themselves from situations that they are not yet comfortable with. Now unfortunately, this arrangement did not last as Judy can be a bit dog selective and decided that she no longer wanted to play nice with Brody, our Spaniel. For safety, we put the dog gates back up and set up a different rotation of play groups ensuring that Brody and Judy were no together.

At the beginning February, we decided to open their world a bit more. We loaded them into the car and took them to Pet Palace which is a local pet supply store. Importantly, they have self service dog baths that we planned on using. They surprised us with how well they did in the bath for how nervous they were otherwise.

It is important to note that the decision to open their world further was not made lightly. They showed immense progress in the month since they came to us and this point. Part of growth and confidence building includes pushing a bit past their limits in a controlled way and in short bursts so as to not completely overwhelm them back to the point of shut down. After their trip, we went straight back home and gave them space to relax and have a nap. Their trip to pet palace was a success and a very big deal for them.

After we got home and they had their nap, we had another unexpected surprise. Next week, we will discuss how that simple outing transformed them and what they got to do next.

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