Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009 - Learning to walk.


(My dear friend Noah, an old soul, sharing a bit of well earned affection with me.
Have you ever seen a rottie with a tail? Well, here's Lu's tail,... Noah. Where ever Lu goes,.. there he is.)


This is truly where the joy of rehabilitation comes in. I was just thinking back to the first day Noah arrived. The condition he was in, the pain, the fear, the aggression, oh yea, the red-zone aggression towards humans fueled by the fear they have created in him.

Here we are, 34 days later and Noah is walking with my pack of dogs. He is still having a difficult time moving forward, and by forward I mean not just psychologically, but physically. He gets stuck. Now, please understand that the mind and the body work together so when he gets stuck it comes full circle. He begins to fear and doubt himself, the mind stops moving so the feet stop moving. Once the feet stop moving the mind does not know how restart the feet. This is where the power of the pack comes in.

Currently, I am only able to walk him on my property. Now, don’t feel bad, I have nearly an acre. That’s plenty of room for us to navigate a mini-migration while this guy is learning to be a good follower. We also still have the legal side to keep in mind. If you read from the beginning you will remember that Mr. Greg Beck and the lawyers from the Devore Animal Shelter are very concerned about this vicious dog, and possibly escaping. If he were to be a vicious dog, and if he were to escape my property we could be in for some trouble. So, to keep all things on the safe side for now, I spend time walking him around my home facility where he feels safe, and does not feel the need to flee.

He has been walking my property with the pack for the past 8 days now and doing just fine. Its no surprise that his new best friend is Lucius. Everywhere Lu goes Noah seems to be just inches behind him. This is actually a good thing for now. Noah has no idea how to play, or how to go to the bathroom on a regular basis. Right now, with all that he has gone through, he seems to be a bit removed from his primal instincts. He even waits for Lucius to go to the bathroom before he does. Noah seems to be looking toward Lu for all the cues and reminders of what its like to relax and be a dog. Noah has a great teacher.

It wont be long before Noah is ready to leave the property and go on a pack migration. We just have to be sure we don’t jeopardize his freedom before he is ready. The powers that be have made if very clear that they need to know where this dog is at all times, and if he changes locations they need to be notified. Better safe in this situation!

Sunday, August 23, 2009 - Lori & Claudia's visit!

Today Noah and I enjoyed a nice visit with Lori and Claudia. It was a great opportunity for Noah to do a little bit more work, and perfect for the gals to learn a little bit more about the rehabilitation process. Not much improvement in one day from Noah of course. Well, slightly. I was able to put the training collar on him right away, leash him up, but walking him from the kennel to the training field happened pretty much just as slow as yesterday. The process of teaching a dog to walk on a leash in this situation was new to Lori and Claudia, and learning not to “nurture” weakness in Noah will prove rather challenging I’m sure, but it was a good day!

Many thanks to both Lori and Claudia for all of their efforts with Noah, and all of the other lives they have touched. With many thanks to Cesar Millan and Noah, living in the moment, and loving it!

This video shows the process of getting the training collar on him, and asking him to follow me out of the kennel run. You will see that he has moved past the submissive urination, and shaking, but still has a very long journey in front of him. You will see he is able to approach me, and in just a short time trust me to put the collar on him for the first time. You will see it as we saw it.

Thank you to Angela Morin of EnlightenedCanines.com and Craig Cirelli for all of their assistance with the videos!

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Saturday, August 22, 2009 - Breakthrough.


This week I have continued to use my pack to help rehabilitate Noah. I wish all of you could truly know just how beautiful this is. Lucius has a wonderful story all his own. Not only has he come back from near death experiences twice so far in his short life, it’s a miracle he is here to begin with. He has overcome amazing obstacles in his life to play the part of my “right hand man” and now it has been his gift to help rehabilitate other dogs.

Most recently would be my blue pit Dharma that came to us 11 months ago. Finding her way to me thin, filthy, and full of puncture wounds from another dog, this scrappy little girl is believed to come from the fighting ring, and has also proven to be quite the lesson for both Lucius and I. She is our dharma, coming from the Sanskrit word meaning of one’s “duty” – religious or otherwise. She is our duty, or responsibility, our lesson. Joining our pack this summer is Sol, a rottie also with a story that spans 4 years. It is their turn to pay it forward with Noah. It is their turn to show Noah the joys of living amongst a pack, of being accepted, and being truly protected by a pack leader.

The past several days Noah has very curiously watched my pack directly outside his kennel run. This is his safety, and his security for now, but he has become ever so curious as I play with the pack just a few feet from him, share affection with the pack, outfit them with their training collars, leashes and back packs. Now as we all walk off for our pack walks in the morning Noah has taken to giving a few barks, and howls. No doubt communicating with the rest of the pack.

No problem my friend; you are welcome to come. You just have to be able to put on a collar and leash.

Video: In this video you will see daily duty of cleaning out his kennel. In the beginning he would hide in his crate, or try to jump out of the kennel-run shaking, submissively urinating, and vocalizing, as the Husky breed is known for. Here you will see how far he has come. He will still hide behind me, and seek protection from me, but no longer will you see him try to escape. His fear of the water hose is diminishing. His expression is gaining more curiosity. He demeanor is becoming more relaxed, and we are able to share much more affection with him at this point. Previously, he was in such a constant nervous state of mind that any talking to him or affection would only nurture his nervousness. Despite being 100% healthy, and the ample amount of clean water available to him daily, currently he is still not drinking enough, or having normal bowel movements. Better, but not good. Lets see what this week holds. It is still a process, but definitely progress.


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Monday, August 17, 2009 - Introducing the feeding ritual.

It took a couple of days for all of the Acepromazine to wear off, but we stay on course. He’s been bathed and has a clean bill of health. Noah continues to be fed not only out of his food bowl, but also by hand to develop trust. All things come from the pack leader. He knows this instinctually. Time to take this rehab a step further. Noah fears almost everything that he experiences in his life, especially the leash and training collar. Today we begin to exchange that fear for comfort and confidence.

Today is day 22. The time has come to prepare Noah for his adventures outside of his comfort zone, outside of this kennel. The moment I enter the kennel run with a leash and chain training collar our dear friend begins to shake, submissively urinate and flee into his crate. My thoughts briefly entertain what this dog might have gone through to fear the mere site of these training tools so deeply. Back to the present moment. I sit and wait patiently. With Noah, all we have is time.

It takes nearly 35 minutes for him to leave the safety of his crate and find his way to me. He stares at me, and waits. I practice a little deep breathing and meditation, confident that when the time is right he will find his way next to me as usual.

Meditating on the vision of him laying down next to me as he does everyday, it takes only a few minutes for this vision to become a reality. I feel him curl up against my leg, and as I exhale slowly and open my eyes it is clear that Noah is ready for a massage with the training tools in my hand. He shakes and trembles at the touch of the chain collar and leash, but allows me to continue. This massage is kept short, and very non-emotional on my behalf so as not to “nurture” this weakness in him.

It is important to remember: you get what you pet. If you pet a nervous fearful dog, you nurture, and get a nervous fearful dog. Massage can be used to bring about relaxation, just keep in mind that it is important to be able to read a dog correctly, and keep your human emotions out of rehabilitation. As I work on Noah I do not feel sorry for him, and I have no desire to “save” him, or “rescue” him. The moment he arrived on my property he was saved and rescued. That job is done. My job is to remove the fear, and the aggression. My job is to rehabilitate him, and help him move beyond his deepest fears.

This week my goal will be to bring his state of mind to a place where I can put the collar around his neck, and take him on a leash outside of his kennel. Now, keep in mind, I can walk up to him, grab him and quickly put the collar around his neck and drag him out of here, but will that really help him? Or will that reinforce all of his fears, and aggression. This is a dog that does not hesitate to bite. I clearly remember that.

Video (Thanks go to Craig Cirelli!): Here you will see the process it took to get Noah to eat around a pack of dogs. This instinctual and primitive ritual is actually fascinating to watch. Watch Noah’s body language,.. watch his tail, watch him try to find his place, and discover his way with the pack. There is so much about this dog that is so primal and very close to wolf nature. I am grateful for his teachings, and I am grateful to all that I have learned from Cesar Millan. Without his teachings rehabilitating this dog would not be possible for me.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009 - Vet re-check!

Today is the day. The day he must go back to Arlington Animal Hospital for a re-check, remove those bothersome stitches, and a quick bath while he’s in dreamland. I am very happy to tell you all that this vet visit is very uneventful. No drama, no thrashing about, no tantrums, no biting. I know this does not make for a good blog, but it does make for more balance in this dog’s life. Actually, here is the truth; the day before Dr. S gave very direct orders. Give him six Acepromazine. Six. Yes,.. not five, but six Acepromazine. Make sure he absolutely takes all SIX Ace well before you bring him here. Not FIVE. Give him ALL SIX. Ok Dr. S, got it! Six Acepromazine make for one very sleepy, very incoherent dog. Sleepy dogs tend not to bite. Sleepy dog in crate, lift crate into car, and off we go. Easy for us, and more importantly, it’s easy for Cesar dog.

By this time Lori and I realize that although “Cesar” is a great name, there is already a great “Cesar” out there, and this Cesar dog needs a name that is a little bit more fitting for him. He needs a name that is more “his” name. Lori spent the evening looking up names that not only have a meaning for her, but also a meaning for this old soul that has come into our lives. Sitting in the waiting room we go through a list. One after another, as nice of names as they are, they are just not befitting this surviving old soul.

Old soul. Survivor. Wait,.. there is one that is very fitting. Noah. Hebrew in origin, and has meanings that range from “peaceful”, “long-lived”, “comforter”, and “wanderer.” The Biblical patriarch survivor of the Great Flood whom drifted for 40 days. Ahhh, yes. This is our Noah. Our Noah is an old soul, a wanderer, a drifter, a survivor, and a future comforter to other canine companions in need. This I can see clearly. Well-done Lori!

Welcome to the first day of the rest of your brand new life Noah.

Video (Big “thank you” to Craig Cirelli.): Here you will see Lucius, Noah’s guardian and protector, welcoming his new friend home. Since Noah arrived Lucius has had to be content with keeping watch over his new pack member from the outside of the kennel. He’s expressed his concern and need to enter the kennel many times, but has had to be patient while Noah was quarantined and healing. This is the first time Lucius was granted his wish of entering the kennel to meet his friend. Well-done Lucius!

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

It’s been a week of healing for our dear friend Cesar dog. Its clear in his eyes that he is still unsure of many things, and most certainly spends his time in the present moment. We have spent the past week sitting in his kennel with him, allowing him to take his time approaching us, and eating out of our hands. He is learning to work very hard at trust in order to get his daily meal. He will most certainly eat out of a bowl if I leave food for him, but that wont teach him to trust me, or any other humans. In general, nervous dogs will not accept food, or treats. If I were to go in his kennel and try to “bait” him with food in order to get him to work for me he would shy away, retreat and hide in his crate.

This is where patience comes in. As I sit in his kennel run with him, I allow him to take his time, and approach me – the pack leader. I hold his bowl of food, put a bit of his Blue Buffalo dry dog food in hand, along with a few hot dog pieces, and allow Cesar dog to approach me, and when he relaxes into a calm submissive state of mind this is when I allow him to have a few nibbles. He is learning to remain very calm around me, and learning that he only gets something when he remains in that calm submissive state of mind with me. This is a perfect scenario for him to be fed by others as well. Each person that assists me with this rehabilitation follows the same formula for success.

Cesar dog is still quarantined, and on lots of medication. As his body begins to rid itself of all of the parasites, and toxic energy he must remain in his kennel when cleaned. This presents a rather big problem, and further demonstrates what truly appears to have been harsh treatment with a powerful hose, or simply no socialization or experiences previous to being with me. Scooping is not too much trouble at all as he takes to hiding in his crate. As its time for hosing out, his fears rear their ugly head. The shaking begins, the submissive urination, the panic, and frenzy to jump out of the kennel run and flee for safety. Projecting calm assertive energy I silently promise him; this will get easier. Life will get easier.

I am grateful to spend my time relaxing with him in the present moment as well. Most of the time, as dogs come into my life, the lesson they are going to teach me is not always obvious. This time is different. This time I know he is going to teach me patience. He is going to teach me to live in the present moment with him, and wipe clean all of the plans and goals I have for him. He is going to teach me to be here, in the now.

Video (Thank you to Craig Cirelli for edits.):
In this video you will see Cesar dog getting a little closer look at two of his new friends. Safely, on the outside of his kennel my blue pit Dharma, and Laila spend a little bit of time sharing energy. This is a fantastic opportunity for Laila who suffers from extreme anxiety. As you see Dharma relax you will see Laila continue to pant heavily, and lick her lips nervously as she struggles to lay still. Laila also spends much time here for rehabilitation. Dharma does her best to remain calm and act as pit bull role model! (She wants to be just like Junior when she grows up!)
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