Thursday, September 15, 2011

Misc. Updates 9/15/11

Today's news from Mutt Town:

-- Health news: Pepper got spayed yesterday. Came through the surgery like a champ, was a little groggy and slow-moving when she got home that evening (to the point where two tipsy ladies having dinner outside demanded to know why I was mistreating my dog when we walked past, because clearly she was malnourished/abused to be tottering along so slowly... aaah, busybodies, always much improved by alcohol) but appears to be totally recovered energy-wise today. Having to keep her in the crate a lot to prevent her from bouncing around too much and straining her stitches.

I gave her the deworming pills this morning so hopefully we have seen the last of those gross terrible no-good tapeworms.

One thing I've noticed is that Pepper likes to eat immature grass seed heads. I wonder if they help scrape out the worms; I've definitely noticed more tapeworm segments in her poop when there's a lot of grass in the poop. It could be coincidental, though. Will be interested to see if she stops trying to eat grass as much once the worms have gone away.

-- Training progress: Pepper is no longer afraid of stairs and will take them up or down at a trot. She is still a little apprehensive about glass doors but doesn't collapse in front of them anymore; instead she's just careful to make sure that she's not walking facefirst into glass. Can't blame her for that!

Housebreaking is going very smoothly. She no longer insists on going to the Big Weedy Lot but is content to go potty anywhere she can find a reasonably sized patch of grass that other dogs are using. We aren't giving Pepper many opportunities to make mistakes in the house (go crate gooo!!), and so she hasn't made any since Day One.

Pepper now walks politely on leash 90% of the time. She prefers the right side, which I don't mind since I don't insist that the foster dogs heel, and sometimes swerves back and forth to investigate or avoid things that draw her attention. But for less than a week of not-very-intensive work, she's doing phenomenally. No pulling (except occasionally when she wants to greet another dog), very little lagging, with a little more practice she'll be a star.

I haven't done much work with commands yet but I suspect that Pepper will be a very quick study. She's already grasped that "Sit is the correct response when you don't know what to do" and could Down with a lure after one short session. My early impression is that she might just be the smartest foster dog I've ever had -- I'll know better once we can do more intense training sessions. I've been holding off on that for the first few days because she has enough to do just getting settled in, plus I've been uncertain of her potty reliability. But I think we're getting to the point where she can start some proper training.

-- Pongu's Prozac journal: no observable change after one week. Anxiety levels appear to be the same. He did try to chase after a stray cat a couple of nights ago, which was unusually brave of him (normally he's terrified of ANYTHING encountered after dark) and let me finally do a Premack principle exercise (instant off-leash recall --> hooray! we go chase the cat together!), but otherwise his general anxiety and terror of the unfamiliar seem undimmed.

I might try dosing him with a Xanax before obedience class this evening. Debbie Jacobs of Fearful Dogs has written about her use of Xanax to help her fearful dog Sunny through his obedience classes, and it seems like a thing worth trying. On the other hand, I wonder if I shouldn't try it at home first to gauge his reaction. Eh. Decisions, decisions.

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