The adventures of SD Juno and SDIT Kaline (and their human, Colt).

23 February 2014

Blast from Juno's past

We were cleaning out some old stuff and found a bunch of Juno's shelter paperwork. I thought it was pretty fun! So here it is for your viewing pleasure. I should probably note that pretty much anyone actively looking for a SD prospect would not have adopted Juno, due to her dog reactivity. I was looking for a pet Doberman/Doberman mix, with an eye to a fun fixer-upper.
The shelter where we adopted Juno.

Juno's intake form (her first family dumped her):

Where does your pet stay during the day? Backyard     At night? Indoors
What ages of people has your pet been living with? 39, 39, 12, 9, 8 months (explains why Juno has always been so chill and relaxed around kids of all ages)
How would you describe your pet's behavior around kids? Friendly, playful, 
How does your pet react to strangers? Friendly
Has your pet ever bitten or snapped at anyone? No
Has your pet lived with other animals? No
Does this pet have any health problems or injuries? No
Have you ever had any behavior problems with this pet? No
Is this dog housebroken? No (she was, actually) 
Does he ever have accidents? Never
Is your pet afraid of anything? Other animals
What type of training has your pet received? Home training (ha, yeah, surrrrre)
What commands does your pet know? Sit, down, stay, fetch (nottttt really)
Does your pet chase anything? She chases other animals when she or the family feels threatened; very protective of family
Words circled to describe pet's behavior: Friendly with people; friendly to other animals; affectionate; playful; shy; too much energy; doesn't like to be left alone (yep, very true); loves affection; good with kids; likes to be groomed; relaxed; likes treats; demands attention often; not used to other animals
Other good or bad habits? Very friendly, loving member of family 
Is there anything else we should know about your pet: I as the owner is (sic) heartbroken. She loves my children and family. Deserves a loving, stable home. 
Please describe your pet in your own words: I can always depend on her to be warm and happy to see me. Full of love. 

Yup, the last part kinda kills me. Juno now has the best life possible—I bet her old family would be happy to know that. She is loved and all her needs are fulfilled to the best of my ability.

Juno was given the shelter name of Bocci. They listed her as a Doberman/Labrador mix. The evaluator found her to be gentle, cautious, reserved, attentive, tolerant, and friendly. They said she was good with some dogs, not good with cats. She was suggested for a home with a medium activity level; house with a yard; a very experienced owner; and someone who was physically strong. 

The yard part amuses me and also pisses me off a little. You can have the biggest yard in the world, and if you don't make an effort to exercise your dog and give it mental stimulation, the yard ain't going to do it for you. If you have no yard but, say, walk your dog 2-4 hours every day plus training sessions, the lack of yard is not an issue. I feel like “yard” is a confusing euphemism for “commitment to physical and mental exercise.” The experienced owner part I agree with, but obviously I'm not physically strong now, and I wasn't that much stronger before I developed fibromyalgia. Dog training is not about physically overpowering the dog, it's about figuring out what motivates them, and how to teach them effectively what is and isn't acceptable. When I walk six-packs, they outweigh me by a considerable amount. I can't physically overpower them. But I use clear signals with body language, collar corrections, and treats, and we don't have problems. Conversely, I've seen ten-pound tiny dogs dragging their owners down the street. Physical strength ... Not really all it's cracked up to be!

Initial assessment: 

Personality: Other (Other choices were Outgoing, Affectionate, Playful, Timid, and Attentive. I have no clue what they meant by “other.”)
Training: Jumps
Housebroken: Unknown
Relationships: Not friendly with dogs; reactive
Juno on her first day at home.

Notes on Juno's interactions/training throughout her shelter stay:

29 February 2008
Bocci slipped her leash and went after Daisy. She becomes very agitated and aggressive with other female dogs. Very resistant to returning to her kennel, took 15-20 minutes to get her back inside. Very food motivated.

3 March 2008—2nd Chance Class
Bocci is very affectionate and walks nicely on leash when it is just her and the handler. She is reactive—pulling, barking, whining—when she sees other dogs. In class we worked on running by other dogs without barking. She seems to get anxious easily. She was reluctant to go back to her kennel, stopping in the lobby and at the door of the kennel. Once inside she immediately relaxed and was very affectionate and calm. 

8 March 2008—2nd Chance Class
Bocci was nervous and agitated, couldn't/wouldn't focus on me or even on treats. We walked, spent time in play yard, then came into class. Gradually she became more focused and would sit, watch me, and touch my hand for treats. But every few minutes she'd stare at another dog and then bark and lunge at them. We practiced time outs! When she did calm a little, she loved being petted.

10 March 2008
 Very affectionate with all people. Reluctant to go back to kennel, so worked on gradually approaching with treats and praise. Saw two Labs in the next play yard—barked at the fence, but with tail wagging and some bowing. I think Bocci's dog reactions are an unsocialized attempt to play—that she really wants to meet the other dogs.

This handler (wrote on 3 and 10 March, then almost every entry thereafter) worked Juno the most and I think had the best read of her character. She still doesn't have great dog social skills, but has been taught to ignore/avoid rather than her old reaction of barking and generally being annoying. When Juno first started obedience class with me, she'd have a meltdown at the 45 minute mark and have to leave for a little bit. It took a good year or so to get her over her dog reactivity.
Juno at her first obedience class.

10 March 2008—2nd Chance Class
Worked on dog reactivity using 18 (probably refers to another dog, unnamed). Gradually approached play yard while he was in it, entered and did some meetings; and walked in the parking lot. She was reactive and hard to settle, barking, lunging, and mouthing him. He stayed calm. She was able to do “walk by” exercises in the parking lot and remain calm.

17 March 2008—2nd Chance Class
Worked on meeting dog-dog. I took Bocci to the outdoor GAR for lots of play (loves squeaky/tuggy toys), treats and pets to get happy and relaxed. Then John brought in Georgia. We worked on treats/praise when she saw Georgia, then had Georgia leave. Then worked on brief sniffing while Georgia was distracted with treats, followed by lots of praise. In just a few repetitions, Bocci was able to ignore Georgia and sit near her for treats. Did this in brief sessions with some time outs to relax. Great progress! Bocci's language was playful, great play bows and no growls. Otherwise she is playful and affectionate.

21 March 2008
Tried introducing Bocci to Ricky. After a lot of initial barking and excitability, she calmed down and was able to be in the GAR with Ricky without reacting to him.

24 March 2008—2nd Chance Class
Repeated above meeting exercise with Tenilla. More energetic introduction for both of them with Bocci doing a lot of barking and mouth but no growling/aggression. Bocci needs now to learn to play and to have more meetings like this.

26 March 2008
Just did regular TLC today. Bocci was reactive (barking/jumping) when she saw other dogs, but settled quickly when we had passed. Playful and very affectionate.

28 March 2008
Fantastic progress in a play session with Tenilla. Bocci is calming much more quickly. Although they are energetic players, there was no aggression or escalation. At one point they seemed saturated (??) and we worked on leash proximity. They did great! Bocci finally seemed tired.

31 March 2008—2nd Chance Class
Another play session with Tenilla. Her play patterns (sheet cut off, argh!)

3 April 2008
Much calmer on leash today than previously. Play yard with tennis balls. Friendly to everyone but a little unsure about the field service uniform. OK on leash, seeing some dogs at a distance—could be refocused. In the big GAR she was very excited (a lot of barking and jumping) when another dog walked past.

14 April 2008
Play session with Tenilla. Went very well. her play style is very energetic but is able to calm/refocus much faster and able to break the play behavior and show calm behaviors.

20 April 2008
Amy and I took out Bocci and her kennel mate (the German Shepherd/pointer). Bocci doesn't really know the language of play—she goes from 0 to 60 (i.e. growling) very fast. Reactive (barking esp.) with every dog she saw today. Great with people, but her dog manners need a lot of work.

23 April 2008
Typical Bocci—sweet and affectionate. Very energetic today, ran around the play yard with toys. Reactive when she saw dogs—but we know this is her play style. She just needs another dog who knows it too. Some fence fighting on the way back to the kennel. She needs a lot more exercise. 

Once I got Juno home, the first thing I did was start giving her a ton of regular exercise. It was like magic. Within just a few days, she was incredibly calm the majority of the time.

28 April 2008—2nd Chance Class
Attempted to intro Bocci to Shasta, but both were so reactive we did not have a meeting. Worked on approaching and returning. Both seemed frustrated and overly excited, but no growling.

2 May 2008
Played in the big yard. Was distracted when she saw other dogs in the nearby yard, but her attentiveness improved after a lot of exercise (energetic game of fetch). Also spent time calming and getting lots of affection. Bocci needs exercise to help her calm. Some fence fighting on the way back to the kennel.

12 May 2008 (the day we took her home)
Played a good game of fetch (with a fuzzy toy—not interested in tennis balls) in the play yard and also chased each other around. Loves affection and likes to lean and be in contact with you while she chews on toys. Alert and interested in surroundings. Barked at chickens and got excited; may have some small animal prey drive. A sweet girl who needs lots of exercise and interesting things to do.
Juno with her new tiger stuffie on her first day home. We still have the tiger!
Huh ... Lots of exercise and interesting things to do? I think we got that covered! You can tell how much time and love the shelter staff put into Juno. I love Peninsula Humane Society to pieces. Anytime I hear of someone looking to rescue, I always point them to PHS.

I must reiterate that reactivity like what Juno had (note past tense) is not acceptable in a working dog. We adopted Juno in May of 2008 and she did not start her SD training until January 2011—after her dog reactivity had been worked through. Obviously dogs are not robots, and will have bad days every once in a while, but reactivity on a regular basis is, at the very least, a reason to pull the dog from public work until it's resolved. If it can't be resolved, the dog must be washed out. A reactive SD puts both its handler and the public in danger.

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