Sunday, June 3, 2012

Nina Adopted!

For those who still may be occasionally checking in, Nina adopted to a new home today in MN.  Hopefully things will go well for her.  It's going to be a big adjustment for her and will take her a long time to settle in, but she'll have a new dog friend to help her.  Nevada is still waiting for her forever home to come along.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Nina hanging out in the house

Both Nina and Nevada are becoming quite accustomed to indoor living and are doing wonderfully with their socialization and training. Nina doesn't meet a person she doesn't like, and has become quite a social butterfly with people and other dogs. She is now comfortable with us guiding her by the collar, taking it on and off, and body handling. We'll be working on more leash work (outside of her "safe"areas) in the coming weeks. Here is a photo of her hanging out with our other foster dog Grace, the two of them are good buddies.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Nevada Update

I have received several updates from Emily this week, and Nevada is doing AMAZING! She is exploring the house, given Emily a kiss on the chin, and today got a massage while on the couch, and she loved it! She has approached visitors, and is coming out of her shell every day. Here are several photos from the week, she is sure growing up to be a beautiful girl!

Nina Update

I apologize to everyone for the delayed update this week - it's been a busy one with HSNEI adoptions which is always good! Nina is doing fantastic, wow what a different puppy! She greets visitors with full wagging body, she accepts petting from strangers, she seeks out our attention constantly, and is learning to be accustomed to a leash! Here is a photo of her in the house, you can't tell from the photo but her little tail is going a mile a minute.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nina and Nevada Update

An update on the girls the first night in their foster homes, both are doing well...

Nevada had the hardest move, going to a completely unfamiliar place, but she is settling in nicely. I spoke with Emily last night and this afternoon. She is in the house, in an enclosed area. Emily is hand feeding her all of her meals and this is going well. Nevada is starting to venture around the house a bit, taking lots of treats and wagging her tail. Emily is giving her more time to settle in and build a relationship with her before she tries to pet her. Nevada has been the shyest pup all along and will take longer to adjust, but I was thrilled that even last night she was taking treats, eating and drinking, and even giving a few tail wags.

Nina is practically a different puppy. She has voluntarily ventured in the house multiple times, and slept in a crate in the house all night last night! She whined and barked for about 10 minutes and then slept quietly all night. We had her crate next to other dogs and I'm sure this helped to calm her. We are petting and interacting with Nina almost like a "normal" puppy, she seeks out petting from both Scott and I and her little tail rarely stops wagging. It is clear that the company of our own dogs is building her confidence greatly. When she is outside most of the time she is relaxing on the patio by the back door waiting to come in or waiting for us to come out and see her. I listed her as available for adoption to a special home, and you can see her listing on

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Moving Day!

Well as usual things didn't go quite as planned, but I am happy to be able to give a positive report at the end of the day. I gave the girls their sedative at 9:15, with the intention being to take them to the vet at 10am. Nina and Nevada had other plans though and when I checked on them at 9:50 they were both still wide awake, romping and playing. Hmmm. 10:10 still awake and moving around, although the sedative seemed to be taking the edge off. At 10:15 we put the transport crates in the puppy pen and I spent 30 minutes throwing treats in them until the puppies were comfortable walking in and out. Finally, I was able to quietly close the doors on both crates with puppies inside.

Here is a photo of them loaded into the car.

Other than a little yowling from them in the car ride to the vet, it went smoothly and quietly, and we arrived there 1 hour late at 11am. Thankfully everyone at the office was understanding and went ahead with medical treatment as planned. After the puppies were finished, their new collars were put on before they went into their separate crates. Nevada was done first and Emily picked her up at 2pm. I will send an update on Nevada as soon as I hear how she's doing. We picked up Nina at 3pm and brought her home. We set her crate on the back patio which had we fenced in, and it wasn't long before I heard her whining to be let out. I opened her crate door and she walked right out wagging her tail at me, cautious only for a few seconds. She is sore and walking stiffly from her surgery, but otherwise doing great. I've been petting her and hanging out, she's even been pawing at the back door! I'm not sure she's ready to come in yet, but she seems to want to be with me or the other dogs which is a good sign!

Here are photos of Nina after arriving back home, getting adjusted to her new surroundings.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nina and Nevada Update

Nina and Nevada have continued to do well with their training over the past week. Nina has become so affectionate with me she reminds me of Natasha. Nina will seek out physical interactin with me, and I can now pet and massage her without the use of treats. This weeks she also started giving me kisses on my face, which is not something she was comfortable doing before. Nevada continues to accept petting only with the use of food at the same time.

Tomorrow is "moving day", and we will be picking up the oral sedative from the vet today. At 9:15 am tomorrow morning I will give them the sedative, and then they will be transported to the vet at 10:00. After spaying and receiving vaccinations, we will transport them in crates to their new locations while they are still sedated (they will also have collars put on them while they are asleep). Nevada will be going to Emily's and Nina will stay here but be moved into our household and primary fenced yard to be socialized with other dogs and be introduced to the house. It will be a scary day for them I'm sure, but hopefully a lot less traumatizing than the last time we tried to move them. I expect that being around the other dogs will help them tremendously with their adjustment period.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Update on Natasha

I received a call earlier this morning from Natasha's new home. It sounds like things are going great and she is settling in well. She is already taking walks along the Mississippi River and has met several new people and dogs. I'm so happy for this sweet girl!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Natasha Has a New Home!

Natasha went to her new home this afternoon. It's sure true that dogs pick their owners, she took to him immediately! I'll post updates as soon as I receive them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Plan B

After a lot of thought, discussion with a vet, and helpful hints on working with feral dogs from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah we have com up with a Plan B, which will take place next Tuesday the 20th. We will be taking Nina and Nevada (with the use of an oral sedative - they gulp down anything wrapped in hamburger) to Critters and Such for spaying and vaccinating. While they are still sedated we will move Nevada to Emily's who has an indoor/outdoor run set up that comes into her house, and bringing Nina back here and putting her in our big fenced yard that our dogs use. I'm setting up some gates so she will be able to come in the back room of the house without me having to leash her, she can just follow the other dogs in.

Meanwhile I have started Nina on her collar training, slipping a loose collar over her head and taking it off again. She did great and did not balk even once.

More exciting news for the day, we have an approved application for Natasha! It sounds like a wonderful match for her and they will be meeting on Wednesday this week. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Natasha Goes to Town

Since Nora got adopted Natasha has been getting a lot more one on one time. Here are some photos of her out and about - she even got invited into one of the stores! She did great.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nora Update

I received another update on Nora in her new home and am thrilled to hear how well she's adjusting....

"I have good news about Nora. She is doing very well. Everyday she acts more comfortable and happy. She is getting good at playing fetch and loves exploring outside. She doesn't mind being touched or handled most of the time. She still backs away when she sees hands reaching out for her but after her initial backing up she usually allows us to pet her, take hold of her collar, put on a leash, or even pick her up. She follows me around, cries when left alone in the kitchen and is happy to see us when we return. Her training is going well, she is very smart and a quick learner. Her progress over the last 5 days leaves us with little doubt that she will be a "normal" dog."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reality Bites

I've been very lucky up until this point that all I've had to give you were happy progress stories. Unfortunately in this line of work, especially with these types of situations, we're bound to hit a bump, in this case practically a road block. Part of the responsibility leading a blog is the honest truth, so here goes. As you know last Monday was supposed to be moving day for Nina and Nevada. Unfortunately things didn't go nearly as well as it did when we moved Nora and Natasha. Emily and I followed the exact pattern that we had used with the other two. We were prepared, organized and we handled it exactly the same as before. However this time these two girls didn't react in the way we had hoped. For those of you with a sensitive stomach I'll save you the details, but both Emily and I had to be treated for bite wounds. We were anticipating the possibility of this behavior with Nevada, since she has alwasy been the most reserved and as a young puppy was the quickest to use her mouth, but we weren't anticipating this behavior from Nina. They both bit hard, repetitively, and never settled. To say that this has been a difficult week for me would be an understatement. I have become so attached to all four of these special girls and want to see all of them have happy endings. I have spent hours thinking about how to handle this situation. I have a timeline and a deadline, set outside of my control by their age. Obviously we all know that Nina and Nevada can't live in my back yard in their "safe" pen forever. Once they reach 6 months old they will need to be spayed as well as receive other veterinary care. They will reach that point in about 6 weeks. By that time if they are not able to be handled in a way where they can be transported and examined by a veterinarian a decision will have to be made. Right now because of the severe reaction they had to being handled in a way they didn't like, they are not adoptable. I have contacted 3 sanctuaries (and am looking for more) about the possibility of transferring them, it would allow them to be in a place where they could be housed and worked with long term. I'm still waiting to hear back from two of them and I will keep you posted on that. In the meantime I will continue to work with them with the goal of being able to put collars on them to do leash work and other training that could happen outside their pen. It was a bad day for them too, but they recovered almost immediately. Today was their best training day to date. Nina actually sought out petting from me, and stood calmly while I massaged her neck. With the use of food I was petting Nevada almost all over her body. We've forgiven one another.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Update on Nora in her new home...

Here is an email I received this morning from Nora's new family, sounds like things are going well!

"I wanted to let you know Nora is adjusting to her new home better than expected. As you predicted she is getting along well with our other dog. This morning she is playful and energetic. She is seeking out people and attention as long as it is her idea. Nora is getting more comfortable with us handling her and putting on her leash to go outside. She is also doing better at being on a leash. Thank you for all your hard work. We will keep you updated."

I'm so relieved to hear her first night went so well. I will post any more updates that I receive.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Nora has a home!

Sweet Nora went to her new wonderful home today! I will post updates on her as soon as I get them.

Approved Application!

The day just got even more exciting, we have our first approved application for Nora or Natasha! The family is coming this afternoon to meet both of them. Although we've had a few inquiries, this is the first one we've had who would have the time and resources needed for one of these puppies. I will keep you all posted! We are still planning on moving Nevada and Nina to Emily's today after Nora and Natasha's adoption meeting.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nora and Natasha training

Here are some photos of Natasha and Nora doing long line and coming when called training. They are getting used to leashes and responding very well to training. Natasha has proven to be more independent and Nora more eager to please. This is consistent with what I saw of them here too. Tomorrow is a big day for all of them! Nevada and Nina will be making the big move to Emily's to begin their indoor training, and Natasha will be returned to us to integrate her into our pack and household and live the life of a "normal" dog until she is adopted.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Photos of Nevada and Nina

I would like to thank the regulars who have continued coming every week to work with the puppies since they arrived... thank you Mark, Sue and Linda!! Here are some photos of Sue working with Nina and Nevada today. They now greet everyone at the fence by jumping up and wagging their tails. Even Nevada loves to have visitors. Sue was able to do a little petting with Nevada while giving her food, and Nina she could barely keep off her lap! Nevada has continued to do well with me and I've been able to repeatedly stroke my hand down her back while I give her treats.

Nina climbing on Sue's lap...

Nevada climbing on Sue's lap!!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Progress Report

All four puppies continue to come along well. Nevada is now accepting regular petting and yesterday I was able to pet her down her back several times!! Nina is doing great and is at a point where she needs to make the big jump indoors, which we are currently making plans for.

Natasha is doing fantastic and really has become almost a "normal" puppy. She seeks out handling and cuddling and startles at very little. Nora continues to do well indoors and progress with her handling, although she is not as comfortable as Natasha.

We are making big plans for the next step for all the puppies and will keep you posted!

Monday, February 27, 2012

More Natasha and Nora Photos!

Nora with her toy collection

Nora getting rewarded for coming when called

My favorite photo! Natasha snuggling with Emily... :-)

Natasha and Nora Progress Update!

Here are some new photos of Natasha and Nora. I have more but am having trouble with the blog upload right now so I will post them as soon as it allows....

Natasha taking a nap

Both girls doing a training session

Beginning their leash training in the fenced yard

Friday, February 24, 2012

Great Progress!

Great progress with Nevada today. For the first time I was able to run my hand down her back while I fed her, and was able to do it several times! I didn't try every time I pet her, sometimes I would only pet her head, but every treat she received she had to accept petting of some sort. With Nina I ran my hands down her back legs, suspended her front end off the ground and reached around her and rubbed her on her opposite side and under the belly. She also did great. These girls are moving so fast now and seeing how well they're doing reinforces the decision to move Natasha and Nora to another location. Nevada especially was being left in the dust when all 4 girls were competing for attention and treats.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daily update

Natasha and Nora have been sending their daily updates and we have more great accomplishments to report. They had a visitor last night at Emily and Carol's, a neighbor who stopped over to say hello, and both girls were willing to approach the stranger. They were a little nervous but went all the way to him when he squated down. This is fantastic for them to be able to do this, and to WANT to approach new people! They both get their new collars on every morning and get them taken off at bedtime, and are getting more and more comfortable having that done. This morning Emily was sitting on the couch and Natasha jumped up right on her lap to take a nap while Emily pet her! She loves to have the underside of her neck massaged. The girls will be getting out for more car rides and socializing soon.

Meanwhile, the other two sisters continue to do well in their progress. I don't go in the pen unless I have my old jeans on because I can be sure I will come out with paw prints from both girls. Today we continued to work on the same skills. With Nina we practiced extensive body handling while being fed, and also petting without treats. Today for the first time when I massaged the side of her neck she looked like she enjoyed it and she stayed for more. Nevada accepted more petting on the top of her head and neck while being fed treats. While I worked with them I moved around, stood up, squated down, shifted my weight, etc. and they don't retreat at all anymore, not even a few steps. They seem comfortable being near me and know I'm not there to harm them. I remember the first week they were here if I stood up from across the pen they would all run into their dog house. It's hard to believe how far they have come.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nora and Natasha's Trip to the Vet

We needn't have worried, these two girls amazed us once again! Nora had an appt. with Dr. Gibbs at Decorah Vet Clinic today (Thank you Dr. Amy for being so wonderful during their visit!) to check out her leg. We have good news to report and it seems to be a minor muscle injury and nothing serious. Whew! The rest of the visit was just as good. Emily and I thought it would be better if the girls traveled in the car together, less stress on Nora, so both girls made a visit to the vet office. They even wore their new collars. :-) Both accepted lots of treats, were handled all over their bodies and given a full exam, and they were TROOPERS! What amazing girls!

New Photos!

I wanted to share some photos taken today so you can see how BIG the girls are getting!

Nina practicing her down for treats

Beautiful Nina!

Nevada posing for the camera

Both girls sitting for treats

Nevada jumping up on me

Pretty girl!

They did FANTASTIC with training today. I was able to repeatedly pet Nevada on the head and neck without any moving away at all. Nina accepted petting all over her head and back without using food. They both put their faces right next to mine several times and neither one spooked when I moved around or bent over them, in fact most of my petting was done with me bending over. They are really coming along!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nina and Nevada training session

We have had more successful sessions today. Nevada now jumps on me when she's excited to see me or when I'm walking around the pen cleaning up. We had what I consider to be a major breakthrough with her today. With every single treat I gave her she accepted petting on her head and neck, and several times I continued petting as she chewed up her treat and she never once moved away. This was with me standing and bending over them, which is a more dominant posture than me sitting or kneeling. With Nina I worked on suspending her front end, and reaching over to the other side of her body, as well as petting without food. She did well also. They are really starting to progress in leaps and bounds now that they're not competing for attention with their other two sisters. And speaking of...
I have been receiving daily updates on Natasha and Nora who are doing well indoors at Emily and Carol's. They continue to accept more and more handling, and not only accept it, but seek it out. Unfortunately Nora hurt her leg climbing out of the ex pen, so today's goal was introducing her to a crate to help keep her quieter. She is using her leg and putting weight on it, but if things don't look better by tomorrow she will be making a trip to the vet. I worry about this for multiple reasons, not only about the leg itself, but also how scary a visit like this will be for her.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Neighbors

Nevada and Nina are quite fascinated with their new kennel neighbors, a litter of 4 springer mix puppies, who have arrived here for temporary foster care. They have spent the afternoon barking at them and trying to play with them through the fence. We had a good training session this morning. I worked with Nevada toward the same goals as yesterday - petting on the head and jumping on my lap. She did well with both again. She still doesn't particularly like me touching her yet, but she stays there and tolerates it to get treats - that's progress. While I was cleaning up the yard this morning I felt one of the puppies jumping on me from behind and I turned around to find Nevada, not the one I was expecting it to be! She has definitely become more comfortable with me in all contexts, and finally no longer backs up when I stand up or bend over. Nina did fantastic in her training today also. I began teaching her to sit on command, and also to sit politely for petting - she excelled. I worked on suspending her front feet off the ground while I gave her treats, as well as handling her front feet - she did great with everything. I think Nina is very close to being ready to be moved indoors.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

3 Week Anniversary

The puppies have been with us for exactly 3 weeks today. It's hard to believe how far they've come in such a short amount of time. Once again, I would like to thank all the volunteers who have taken time to come out and work with the girls, every person has made a difference!

I had a wonderful session with Nina and Nevada this morning. With Nina I was able to pet her all over her body BEFORE I gave her the treat, and she also accepted a lot of petting without food. When I gave her treats I used that time to push up under her chest, handle her legs and front feet - she did very well. My work with Nevada was the most exciting accomplishment for the session - several times while I fed her treats she allowed me to lightly pet her head. My requirement for her to get food was one of two things - either she had to accept a little petting or she had to jump up and put her front feet on my lap and get the treat close to my face. She didn't have any trouble doing either!

Here are some photos of Natasha and Nora at Emily and Carol's home - I think the photos speak for themselves! WOW!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nevada and Nina Progress Report

Since Natasha and Nora left, the remaining two puppies have been doing well. We have continued to work with Nina on petting, which she is very good about accepting if there are treats involved. She has also started accepting a little petting without the use of food. My goal for the session this afternoon was to start accustoming Nevada to touching/petting. As she ate treats I would lightly run my hand over the top of her head or under her chin. She accepted it a few times, although I can't say she liked me doing it. Regardless, it is a positive step. I would expect that as she gets used to me doing it, and with the use of some very high value treats, she will be more accepting and learn to eventually enjoy it, like Nora and Natasha have.

Meanwhile at Emily and Carol's home, Nora and Natasha are learning about manners, sitting and coming when called, and they are doing great! They are very food motivated and eager to please, which makes them quite easy to train. They are also doing very well with house training.

Natasha and Nora up for Adoption!

The two girls have done so amazingly well with their move indoors that I have listed them available for adoption!! Both Emily and I feel that they are ready - Nora and Natasha are different puppies than they were 3 weeks ago when they came to us. What amazing girls! You can see their listings on For right now I have them listed as special needs, due to the amount of socializing that will be required of their new owners.
Nevada and Nina continue to do well with their socializing and handling but aren't ready for the big move indoors yet. The big goal for me over the next few days with Nevada is to start petting her while she is fed treats. This will be a big step for her and not something we have been able to do yet.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Natasha and Nora's first day update

Natasha and Nora did great their first night indoors. I got an update first thing this morning from Emily, and I quote, "they're running around the entire house like they own the place!" In other words, they are doing fantastic and loving their new home. The differences between them and the average puppy at this age, is that these two will startle over some movements and they are not used to the handling that most puppies have had by now. But they are bridging that gap quickly. Over the next few days Emily and Carol will continue socializing them to indoor living, more handling, getting them used to wearing collars, and once the puppies are comfortable with those things, they will be placed up for adoption. Of course we will be very selective about those homes. Because of their background and need for continued socialization, we will only adopt out to homes where people will be home with the puppy most of the time, ideally have at least one other friendly dog, and no kids. It may take a little while for the ideal homes to come along, but we'll wait until they do!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Update on Natasha and Nora

I've received two updates already on Natasha and Nora. Other than a little car sickness, the drive to their new foster home went smoothly. Emily had her fingers through the crate door and the girls spent the ride giving her kisses and nuzzling her fingers. When they arrived home the crate was carried into the house and placed in the puppy pen with the crate door open. Emily sat in the pen and within minutes both puppies were out exploring their new area. Within the hour the puppies were playing with toys, relaxed and content. All I can say is Wow! again. I am so happy and amazed that they have made this adjustment so quickly. I expected it to take days, not minutes!! The puppies are further along than I thought, and at this rate the two of them will be ready soon for adoption to special homes.


Yet again I underestimated the resiliency of dogs. The transfer of Natasha and Nora went as smoothly as it could possibly go. As usual all 4 puppies greeted us at the gate, excited to have visitors who they knew would have goodies for them. Emily and I both entered the pen, armed with treats, with Carol waiting on the outside. We spent a few seconds giving them all a few treats, then as quickly and calmly as possible, while I fed her, Emily picked up Natasha. She carried her out of the pen while Carol offered her some hamburger. Natasha wouldn't take treats but she was calm - no shaking, no snapping or struggling. She remained completely calm while Emily carried her toward the car, I gave her her first vaccination (yah!) and she never even flinched. We put her in the crate in the car and went back and repeated the entire process with Nora. It went just as smoothly, and Nora did take a few treats after she was picked up. As Emily and Carol were preparing to leave I opened the car door and offered Nora and Natasha some hamburger through the crate door. I fully expected them to be too scared, but amazingly both girls started gobbling up hamburger as fast as I could feed it to them. Wow. They are on their way to their new foster home as I write this. It was very difficult for me to see them go, I have gotten extremely attached to them. These girls have their little paws wrapped firmly around my heart.

After Natasha and Nora were on their way, I went out to clean up the pen and spend some time with Nina and Nevada. Once again, I was expecting a different reaction than the one I got. This was less than 15 minutes after we'd removed Natasha and Nora, and I figured the experience would be almost as stressful on the remaining two. Instead I was greeted at the gate with tails wagging, as if nothing had ever happened. They hung out with me while I cleaned up, and as soon as I started digging in my pockets they ran over to me because they knew it was "training" time. Nina was climbing up on me immediately while I pet her, and here is a photo of Nevada with her front feet up on my legs eating treats. She has never done this before.

Moving Day

A big day planned today. Over the past several days Natasha and Nora have continued to progress to a point where it's necessary for them to take the next big step. I have continued working with them on picking them up for a few seconds at a time, as well as putting my hand under their chests and suspending their front feet off the ground while I feed them treats. Now that the puppies want to interact with people so much, it's becoming increasingly difficult to work with them 4 at a time. This afternoon we will be transferring Natasha and Nora to one of our other wonderful foster homes, with Emily and Carol, where they will be moved indoors and socialized to indoor living. My expectation is that they will take a couple of days to settle in and start to develop some positive associations with living indoors, but then they will progress quickly. I will continue with regular updates on their progress on this blog. This will allow for much more individual attention for Nina and Nevada who have been left in the dust a little bit. It's difficult to give the two of them attention when Nora and Natasha are in your lap. :-) I also expect that this move will be stressful at first for Nina and Nevada, who will see their littermates leave the pen, and will no longer have their brave sisters to be the leaders, when it comes to interacting with people. After a few days of adjustment I am hoping that they will begin to progress much faster also. I will keep you all posted on how this afternoon goes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekend Photos

Here are some photos from Sunday of volunteers interacting with the puppies...

Megan with a pile of puppies on her lap and Nevada creeping in for a treat...

Natasha on Megan's lap...

This is my favorite one of Nevada, just hanging out next to Senia, waiting for her turn.

Nora on Senia's lap...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Exciting Accomplishments!

Nora and Nevada made some very exciting steps today. Mark came for his daily visit and Nora accepted Mark holding her on his lap for several seconds, before she decided that was enough. Nevada actually untied his shoestring and played with it! These are big steps for both girls in their comfort levels. During my afternoon session I took hamburger treats with me. First of all, I couldn't even sit down without Natasha, Nora and Nina climbing on me instantly, and Nevada right there too. While I fed Nora hamburger I was able to put my arm around her, pull her gently to me and lift her up slightly, and she never stopped eating! She LOVES hamburger. :-) Natasha did well with petting all over, with or without food, although I did not try to pick her up again, primarily because I had so many puppies on my lap at once. I had a good petting session with Nina and required her to let me pet her down her back legs and reach over her back to get the hamburger. After a little hesitation she decided it was worth it. Nevada came right up to me to get all her treats and even stood for a few seconds while I stroked her under the chin. Monday is the day I am going to bring Nora and Natasha in the house and start keeping them indoors except for potty and play breaks outside. I feel they are ready and once they get used to being inside (with the help of lots of treats and toys) I think they will progress faster than ever. That will also allow us to do more one on one work with Nina and Nevada, who I fear are getting left behind a bit, especially Nevada.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 12

The N girls have been here almost 2 weeks, and they are sure different puppies than the day they arrived! We had several visitors brave the cold winds to come out and sit with them today (Thank you Mark, Emily and Carol!), in addition to my sessions with them. They did very well again. All four stand at the gate to bark and greet people when they approach (we have to watch the gate very carefully now!). Natasha is accepting petting from everyone, without food, and really seems to seek it out and enjoy it. Nina and Nora will climb all over their visitor's lap for treats, and accept petting. Nevada is getting braver and braver, and will come up to strangers to take treats on a regular basis now. I went out for a short session with them this afternoon after their friends left. As soon as I stepped into the yard Natasha, Nora and Nina were all jumping on me and I was able to bend over and pet all three of them without using food. Nevada came right over to sniff me and even let me stroke her under the chin for a second or two! Natasha is the most accepting of petting without food and I can usually pet her all over her body. Nina and Nora will let me pet them on the head, under the chin and sometimes on the back without using food. As soon as the food comes out, then I can pet both of them all over their bodies. To get treats I required Nevada to come all the way to my leg, which she had no problem doing. I never throw treats on the ground for them anymore, they must interact directly with me to get the food. During my petting session with Nora, Nina and Natasha, I again practiced putting light hand pressure on their sides and under their chests which they did very well with. It is clear that their interactions with me are starting to move beyond the point of just wanting treats. They follow me around their pen everytime I'm out cleaning the yard - when I stop, they stop and sit and look at me while I talk to them and tell them what good puppies they are. Occasionally I will reach down and pet one of them or let them sniff my glove, then go back to work. The other thing I noticed a change with in the last day or so, is when I set their food bowls down, they are starting to dive right in, rather than waiting for me to back up far enough from their bowls. I can see improvements every day with them.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Afternoon Training Session

The puppies had a quiet afternoon, this is the first day since they arrived that they haven't had visitors! Besides me of course. I had an interesting and overall positive session with them. I think the session was harder on me than them, I have to admit I dread handling them in ways that I know they won't initially enjoy. I entered the pen armed with treats, and the puppies immediately were jumping all over my legs wanting attention and treats. Even Nevada was there, she just wasn't jumping on me. The session for Nevada went well again. My requirement for her was that she come all the way to my leg to get her treat, which she did every time. I don't try to touch her, she's not ready for that yet. More and more she is hanging around me, sniffing me when my attention is on the other puppies, and becoming more comfortable being close to me. Natasha, Nina and Nora were all over my lap, putting their faces close to mine, and accepting a lot of petting all over their bodies. Nora and Natasha continue to be the most bold. I added two new criteria to their petting sessions: 1. running my hands down their back legs and 2. lightly pushing them from the side and lightly pushing up on them under their chest. Both of these exercises I believe will also help accustom them to being picked up, especially feeling pressure from my hand on their sides and underneath. During this session I picked up Nora and Nina both (separately of course). I held them only a few inches off the ground and in my lap. I was observing not only their reaction to being held, but also how they acted after I set them down again. I was VERY pleased with Nora's reaction. She was startled and initially scared when I picked her up, but in less than 10 seconds was eating treats while I held her. As soon as I set her down she sat back for only a second or two, then was right back in my lap for more treats. I did not try picking her up again, but continued to reward her for petting and body handling. Nina did not respond quite as well, although not terribly either. She would not take treats from me while she was held, and seemed completely frozen. She would accept petting while she was held. When I set her down she had a similar response to Nora, she sat back for a few seconds then came to me for more treats. She did seem a little more reserved but continued coming back for treats. I got up and left while they were still wanting more attention and food - I want them to be very excited about their sessions with me and don't want them to get to the point of being bored.

Photos from Sunday

Here are two photos that Linda took on Sunday afternoon when I went in to greet the puppies after being gone for the weekend. This was exactly 1 week after their arrival. The photo that demonstrates the most progress is me leaning over Natasha, Nina and Nora while giving them treats. This was a big step for them, since I am assuming a dominant posture by leaning over them like that. Just another example of how they are learning to trust people.

Heartwarming Moment

The girls were so tired last night! Except for feeding I left them alone for the evening -they had five separate visitors yesterday over the course of the afternoon! Not only were they pooped out, they were full. :-) They did great with everyone, accepted treats and petting, but by the end of the day just wanted to hang out more than anything. This morning I had a very heartwarming experience. After the puppies finished eating their breakfast, they came over to me to say an official morning hello. For the first time I was able to bend over and pet Natasha, like I would do with any other puppy or dog. Then I squated down and Natasha, Nina and Nora jumped all over me and accepted some petting. Nevada came over to sniff me and say hello too, although I didn't try to reach out to her. This was all without treats. It was so touching to be able to interact with them this way, it makes all this "work" so worthwhile.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Petting Progress

The puppies are having another great day. My training session with the puppies today went very well. Nevada was coming right up to my legs to get treats, and she always wags her tail now when I approach the pen. Natasha, Nora and Nina were all accepting a lot of repeated petting, all over their backs, heads and sides. When the food was gone I played tug of war using my glove with Natasha and Nora, and they both continued to accept petting on their bodies and are even starting to look like they enjoy it! Natasha gave me several kisses on the face, and Nora brought her face up to mine several times. They've had two other visitors today so far (Thanks Sue and Senia!), and I watched them accept petting and climb all over the laps of their visitors. Nevada accepted treats from both too. I admit I'm feeling pressured to push this a little farther tomorrow. My goal will be to try picking up Nora and Natasha, giving them treats if they will accept them, then putting them down again, and repeating the process. The sooner they can accept this type of handling, the sooner they can be brought into the house for socializing, vaccinating, and eventually adoption. From the beginning with these puppies I've walked a very fine line, between pushing them to meet important goals, yet not pushing them so much that they are traumatized by it. I can't express how grateful I am to all the volunteers who show up here daily to spend time socializing them - every single positive experience they have right now is important.

Natasha's New Friend

These are photos I took of Mark with Natasha yesterday afternoon. Mark went out without food for the first time and just sat with the puppies for awhile. This was the result. :-)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Good Progress This Afternoon

It was a good afternoon training session with the puppies. Thank you Mark for taking the photos, it's impossible to take photos of myself petting puppies when I'm trying to juggle treats at the same time! As usual I used food and required them to allow me to pet them to get the treats. Natasha did much better this afternoon, and was quite willing to be touched. Nora and Nina did fantastic again, and I was even stroking them down their back legs and to the base of their tails. All three accepted a little bit of petting even without food. I usually had 2-3 puppies on my lap at a time, all trying to get the food, but I only gave it to the one who was being touched. I had a special brief moment with Nora when she sniffed me right on my nose. Then a few minutes later Natasha did the same thing! Both of these instances were without the presence of food. Nevada did well again also, coming very close to me to get treats and not retreating as soon as she got them. Slowly but surely she is coming along. She sits close by and watches while I pet the other three, I'm hoping that this will help her see that I'm not there to hurt her.

Nevada waiting for her treat....

Natasha and Nora climbing on my lap...

Petting Nora

Petting Nina

Petting Natasha