Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Happy Ending

Over the past few weeks, I have read several blog posts about troubled dogs with fear aggression issues.  The pet blogger community is full of many wonderful people doing amazing things for dogs - from fostering to advocacy to adoption.  But many times, these stories of troubled pitbulls don't have a happy ending.  Rehabilitating a fear-aggressive dog is a long, arduous process and one that is without guarantees of a happy ending.

So I'd like to share my happy ending.

Sadie, my fearful-aggressive HAPPY GIRL!
Last night, the hubbie had some friends over to watch the Bruins game, drink beer and listen to the webcast of Phish's Alpharetta show.  This is exactly the situation where Sadie would act out in the past.  She was surrounded by her "triggers":  a roomful of men, 2 people she hadn't met before, cheering for sports and loud music.  The last time I remember her snapping at anyone was a few years ago during our Super Bowl party.  A guy she was sitting next to jumped up to cheer for his team and scared her.  Snap.  Needless to say, I tend to get a little nervous when we have these types of gatherings for fear that situation may happen again. 

Last night, Sadie was a happy, friendly dog.  There was not one iota of fear in her.  Not one semblance of bad behavior.

Everyone was there when I got home with pizzas in hand.  The girls were outside and, hating not to let an opportunity pass where Sadie is able to be exposed to these "triggers", I let them back in on my way down to the full basement.  She didn't bark.  Not once, not even at the new peeps.  She sought attention and engaged with everyone there (I'm pretty sure the pizza in everyone's hands helped).  There was no need for anyone to give my dog 5 minutes to get used to them.  There was no need for me to explain her behavior and needs.  She was perfect (except for wiping her drool on a guest).  The moment it clicked for me?  Maggie was doing her darndest to prove that she is a lapdog and was climbing in the lap of one of our guests.  Hurley was busy trying to chew everyone's shoes & pant legs.  Sadie was sitting quietly in front of me.  I leaned over, gave her a kiss and said "Since when are you my most well-behaved dog".  And she was.

11 comments:

  1. What a great story! Def needed due to the sadness around here lately. YAY SADIE!

    www.twogradstudentsandapittie.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Go Sadie! I love to hear success stories, congrats on helping her overcome her fears!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for that, I needed it!

    http://bwpaws.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. That had to feel good. Katy is trying to become one with the coffee table as we are having work done on the house today. Bailey wants to help. It is one extreme or the other in this house.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It is absolutely a great job well done with patience, determination and lots of love from both of you :) Awesome !!!!!!
    My Dinga needs the 5 mins. and a cookie from the stranger to be sure it's safe. It's just a trick to get another cookie :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love that you guys, Jackie & the girls in SLC, and Messies were all watching the Alpharetta shows. :) They were pretty great.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a great post! What were some of the steps you took to get her there?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the comments!. It definitely felt great to totally not worry if she was doing OK and feeling secure.

    Linds - we wish we were there!!

    Two Pitties - we've had Sadie for 4 years so it's taken us a long time to get here. Building her confidence was task #1. I did that through vocal encouragement and love. Every time she would respond well to one of her triggers, she got tons and tons of praise from me. It helps that she has always been a highly affectionate dog and she and I have a really special bond. She lives to get love from me (and vice versa). The second thing we did was control her interactions with people to allow her to get comfortable on her own time table. This involved not letting strangers pet her on walks and asking visitors to our home to ignore her for the first few minutes. I have to say that having Maggie, who is VERY people-oriented helped a lot. Over time, Sadie learned through my encouragement and Maggie's example that people = love & treats, not scary bad things happening to her.

    ReplyDelete
  9. this is a beautiful story, we are so glad that you and sadie had each other to work through this. you are a true gift in this world.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great story! It's always so awesome when our dogs exceed our hopes :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a great success story. We too have been working on many issues, it doesn't happen overnight, but with the right love and encouragement, miracles happen. So glad to hear Sadie's great story.

    ReplyDelete