Handing out buffalo jerky last night -- the goal here was to encourage Ashling to wait patiently with the other dogs and not jump all over me to get her treat. She doesn't know Sit yet (we're working on it, but that's a story for a longer post) so at this point I am only looking for and rewarding "four on the floor": all four paws on the ground and no jumping on my legs.
Sadly when I made this video, I was holding the camera and therefore unable to actually look at the jerky bag while handing things out, and so the last piece I had left was WAY too big for Ashling to eat. Oops. (She got a different, more appropriately sized piece after I turned off the camera.)
But she didn't jump while disappointed, so that's nice.
The other two videos document some of my attempts to see if Ashling was familiar with any interactive toys (in these clips, balls and Tugs). This is sort of an artificially stupid version because I thought it was funny to contrast Pongu's super nerd pushiness with the other two dogs' more laid-back and/or confused attitudes (not hard to tell which one's the competition dog in this bunch!), but even when I removed the element of conflict by putting Pongu in another room while showing Ashling the toys, she still had no real interest in them. There was a flicker of nibbling at the Tug rope when I dragged it along the floor, but that was about it.
Given what is known about her background, it's really not too surprising that Ashling doesn't know how to play with people, but it's still sort of sad to see a dog who had an owner in the past, lived in a home, and still doesn't seem to have any training or interactive play history. Dogs are thinking creatures; they enjoy and benefit from learning, playing, and doing interesting things with their people. To me, neglecting those aspects of the human-canine relationship is like having a child and never teaching her how to read or giving her crayons to draw. Whole worlds of experience and creativity are shut off from someone so deprived, and I have Very Strong Feelings about that.
Anyway, rant aside, Ashling is young and curious and has a bright little mind, so I think she'll really blossom when she moves on to a home that is more nurturing and less neglectful than the one she came out of.
Speaking of which!, I have narrowed her pool of prospective adopters down to two homes that are very similar in overall profile (two kids, two parents, walkable city neighborhoods, possibility of fun dog-friendly vacations and lots of outdoor activity, etc.). Each home sounds absolutely wonderful and I think Ashling would be terrifically happy in either. It is going to be incredibly difficult to choose between them and I wish so much I had two dogs so that I could give one to each, because I'm sure both would be stellar owners (as would many of the other homes who were interested in Ashling).
It's a good dilemma to have -- would that all dogs could be so lucky! -- but I do not relish the prospect of having to disappoint one of them.
In any case, Ashling will meet with both groups of prospective adopters over the next week or so, and then we'll figure out where she's going to live, and hopefully by next Friday or thereabouts she will be off to a happy new life.