As I sit here on Thanksgiving eve, I can't help but think of the things I am thankful for. When asked what we are thankful for, we respond with similar answers of family, friends, health, love, life, faith. And we are thankful for those things. They mean so much to us.
But this past year and the year prior have brought so many more blessings to my life! Now when someone asks what I am thankful for, they better have a long time to sit and listen because there is so much!
Second Chance Dog Rescue was just a dream at one time. Now that dream has become a life for me and my husband, a life with meaning and purpose, a life full of love.
So what am I thankful for?
...The dogs that share their capacity to love truly and completely without conditions....The dogs that show me what independence and strength really are... The dogs who once were needy become strong....the dogs who were afraid become brave....the dogs that were without love find the love of a family. Every single dog that has come in our door now lives in my heart forever. I am SO thankful for the dogs.
...The people that have done the right thing by bringing their dog to us, rather than dumping it somewhere....the shelters who have called to say "we need a hand"....the breeders who have given us the opportunity to rehome their retired dogs...those who watch out for stray dogs and call us to come to help. It takes a world to change the course of a dog in need. I'm thankful that people care.
...Everyone who has helped the dogs of Second Chance in any way! So many people have given their time and money to give these dogs a second chance at a new life. Donors who have shared the last of what they have to give...people who drop off a bag of dog food or a warm blanket...Those donations of things we need and dollars keep our doors open. All the people that have adopted a dog and shared their lives and homes...I am thankful.
... And for those who share the dream! People who have that vision of a world where dogs are not abused, neglected or homeless...those are the people who volunteer their time to help the dogs of Second Chance. They take time away from their personal lives and bring their love and compassion to share with the dogs. They give themselves to these dogs and show them so much love. They work without payment of money and are paid in licked kisses, paws on your lap, and barks of joy! We have many devoted, wonderful volunteers that have helped so much and I am thankful for each and every one of you.
...Our Board of Directors and members. Without you we would lack the motivation behind the vision...the power to go on would cease...the goal would become vague. You each keep the vision clear and foremost in our minds. You share your experiences, your knowledge, your talents and your love at Second Chance. I am so thankful to have you all contributing in making Second Chance Dog Rescue the very best it can be.
....And my amazing husband Rick who has put his heart and soul into the rescue...who consoles me when a dog crosses Rainbow Bridge... rejoices with me when a dog gets to go home...who celebrates with me when a frightened dog finally trusts me to hold it... and for loving these dogs with the same passion I do! I am thankful to be on this journey with my husband.
To all of you, on Thanksgiving Day, I will be speaking of the things you have done, your trials and your accomplishments, your love and your kindness. Because that is what I am thankful for...
For all of you!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Fearful and Shy Dogs – Getting to Touch
Keep those treats nearby. They will come in handy.
During this process do not try to trick your dog into letting you touch him. That will only cause the dog to distrust you. You will be proving to the dog that humans are up to something and can’t be trusted. It is not worth it in the long run.
If it’s possible (and sometimes it is not) see if you can get the dog to touch you first. Sometimes that opens the door for them to let you in for touching. How?
-When giving the dog a treat, hold the treat in the palm of your hand allowing the dog to sniff and possible even lick your hand as he gets the treat.
-With the next treat add a little peanut butter on the treat. Let the dog have it from the palm of your hand. Do this until the dog takes the treat happily and is enjoying the peanut butter treat.
-Now put some peanut butter in the palm of your hand. Set the treat on top of that. Offer it to the dog. Hold very still and do NOT try to reach out to the dog. Let the dog move as they wish. When the dog will take the treat and then lick your hand to get the peanut butter, you can move to the next step.
-Do the same as above but gently slowly move your fingers as the dog gets the treat and peanut butter. When dog is comfortable move to next step.
-Continue with the peanut butter and treat. This time reach out. Do not touch yet. Just reach out until the dog is comfortable.
-Again with the peanut butter and treat. Now reach out and try to touch the dog UNDER the chin and slowly rub back and forth. Use slow gentle movement. If the dog pulls away, do not move your hand. Hold still and let the dog know you are not trying to trick him. When the dog is comfortable with this touch move forward to the next step.
-You are not only touching but you are establishing a base to build your relationship with the dog on. You are teaching the dog that you can be trusted. This is huge process using baby steps to get there.
-Continue with treats and touching. Next try touching chest area. When dog is comfortable move touch to the ear area, then back of neck, then back. Move over the dogs body. Save the top of the head and top of neck for last as these are spots that might lead the dog to think you are trying to grab him.
Now that we have established a good slow touch, we can move forward. Stay tuned! You are doing it and your dog is feeling more relaxed!
When working on “touching” fearful or shy dogs, the first thing a person needs to know that “touch” is different for dogs and can have different meanings than we humans think.
For example when a dog put his paw on another dog with some pressure, the other dog will see this as a threat. If it is light, without pressure, the other dog will view it as an invitation to play. So when you pet a dog’s head with some pressure to the pat, the dog may think you are being threatening.
Also, consider that dogs do not touch each other when they first meet. If you watch two dogs meet for the very first time, you will see a lot of sniffing, tail movements and body posturing but they rarely actually touch until they completely accept each other. So when you reach out to touch a dog that is a stranger to you, that dog may not understand that process.
Some fearful and shy dogs have been socialized with other dogs and not much with people. These dogs will be thinking in canine terms as they are not familiar with human ways. To a dog, there are certain reasons for touch. They are to get attention, to bond, for mating, to show submission or dominance, to play and to get comfort. Keep that in mind as you work with your dog.
"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."
We've all heard this and it can be true for ladies too! And....absolutely for dogs! Especially fearful or shy dogs!
When a fearful or shy dog arrives here at the rescue, my very first goal with that dog is to get it to take a treat from me. Getting a dog to take a treat is the first step of many to come. You can build on a dog taking treats and it will help the dog understand the concept of a reward for doing what is asked.
Many fearful or shy dogs will not take a treat from your hand. Some will not even eat a treat in your presence. You will have to start from where ever that dog is at the moment. The dog decides the process.
Here are the steps starting at the very beginning: (Feel free to skip steps if your dog is past that point.)
Do not get discouraged. To get a fearful or shy dog to eat out of your hand can take as little as a day and as much as months. It depends on how frightened the dog is and also depends on if someone has ever "tricked" the dog by offering it a treat. Be patient. This is one of the most important steps. It establishes a beginning trust and it shows the dog that you are providing for it. Don't move to the next step until you have successfully achieved a step.