Today, I am sharing another blog post from Daisy’s blog, “Daisy the Wonder Dog (and how she found her inner Lab)“.
Daisy is my former puppy mill breeding dog that I fostered and then adopted in November 2007. Even though I don’t write on her blog much anymore, I still treasure the words I wrote back then because they remind me of how far Daisy has come in the past 5 years.
This post was written on November 17, 2008, nearly a year after I first brought Daisy home.
Friday morning was a cold day at the dog park. The dogs didn’t seem to mind, but I certainly did! I was not ready for the bitter wind that came with the low temperature of 15 degrees. Brrrr! Nothing like having your legs go numb while you watch your dog run and play in the woods. As a hearty Minnesotan I should be used to it, but I’m not. Despite the weather I was still able to enjoy the sun and laugh at the dogs and their antics.Daisy’s buddy, Brutus, a 110 lb. Rottweiler puppy was there, as was her favorite pal, Henry. Everyone seemed ready to have some fun. Brutus was looking for a playmate so the chasing and running began as soon as we got inside the park. Daisy really likes Brutus, but I was still relieved to see that she was okay with Brutus stalking and chasing her. I was expecting her to be a bit tentative or fearful, especially after last week. Thankfully, she wasn’t fearful at all.Last week Daisy got into an “altercation” with another one of her friends over a stick. In past experiences, Daisy has learned that a stick can be a great toy to play a game of tug. Unfortunately, she chose the wrong partner this time. She chose someone who was not open to sharing the stick. On top of it, Daisy thought she would tell the other dog she wanted it and that led to the altercation between them. It escalated when other dogs in our group also joined in. In the end, Daisy ended up with a few bites to her head (just above her ear) and one to her backend (by her tail). She is totally fine, but I think she learned that perhaps she should be a bit more cautious about who to challenge when her stick is taken. It reminded me how careful I need to be when Daisy’s gain in knowledge can be.As her dog mom, it has been fascinating to watch Daisy learn from the other dogs at the dog park this past year. It’s like she’s trying to figure out how a dog should act. Obviously, some things are instinctual, like the constant need to carry something in her mouth (definitely a lab thing to do), but other things she has learned by watching what the other dogs do. She started picking up sticks and chewing on them only after watching other dogs do it first. She learned how to drink out of the spout of a water bottle after watching other dogs do it. She learned how to roll over on her back and wiggle around in the dirt and wood chips after watching her friend Turbo do it. She learned how to chase a squirrel after watching her friends Prince and Princess do it (luckily she has never caught one, but I don’t think she would know what to do with it even if she did!).The first time she left my side to go run through the field with some of her friends was amazing. In the past (and still to some degree today), Daisy has always walked beside me or right behind me. The first time she ran off with her friends was a beautiful moment. It’s like she was saying, “I’m free! I’m free!” Her tail went up, she started bouncing along the trail ahead of me and then off she went flying over shrubs and tall weeds. All of this was learned from watching other dogs and then mimicking their behavior.But that’s also why I have always been a bit cautious with her. In many ways, Daisy is like a tabula rasa, a blank slate, she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, so every behavior that she observes leaves an impression on her. You can actually see her watching everything the other dogs do and mimic their behavior. She seems to learn from from every interaction. Picking up a stick and then flaunting it in front of another dog so he or she will chase her, is something she learned from watching her friend, Turbo.Unfortunately, not every dog displays good behavior. Sometimes they are aggressive or possessive, or they jump up on people, or they nip at other dogs. And yes, sometimes they think that their stick has magical powers and must be protected at any cost. It is because of this that I constantly watch Daisy to see what or whom she is observing. I encourage her when she acquires a new desirable behavior and displays it, and I gently discourage her when it is a behavior that I don’t want her to display.Overall, I Have to say I am very lucky because she really hasn’t picked up any behaviors that have caused me real concern. But it is something I am aware of each time Daisy interacts with another dog. It made me think that in some ways that my role as Daisy’s owner is very much like a mom or dad’s role in raising their children. Parents are there to set an example for us. They show us what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior throughout our lives. Although my job is much, much easier than any mom or dad’s, it is something I take seriously. I want Daisy to be a good citizen – one that interacts with both humans and dogs in a positive manner.So today, I want to recognize all those parents out there, to both human and animal. Keep up the good work! May your “child” represent the best of you. And, may they make you proud!
Today I am taking part in a challenge from our friend over at 24 Paws of Love. Here is the challenge:
Tell us in a post what was the most monumental moment that you and your dog shared, that changed the course of your lives together. How ever big or small, what happened that brought an understanding between you and your dog and brought your relationship closer than it was before. What is that one story in your mind that stands out and you repeat over and over to anyone that will listen? Tell us all about it!!
I knew from the first moment I read about the challenge, I would be writing about Daisy. Although she is the most wonderful dog you could ever imagine now, she was a really big challenge in the beginning. Being a former puppy mill breeding dog, Daisy was fearful of me (and others). In the past, humans had always meant pain to her. Getting close to her ,and connecting with her, was difficult. I had to think outside the box – a lot. I had to learn patience, how to move slowly, and speak in a soft voice. For every step forward there were two steps back.
Our challenges included the following:
- Getting in and out the door to the backyard
- Building trust
- Riding in the car (Daisy would lie flat out on the back seat as if she were hanging on for dear life.)
- Wearing a collar
- Going for walks
- Letting someone touch her
- Approaching her
There are so many moments along the way that brought our relationship closer, but perhaps the one I remember most fondly I shared on her blog about a year after I first brought her home. I’m going to steal my words from the post I wrote back then, “Have a Daisy Day”, and share what I remember as the moment our relationship changed.
Most mornings, Daisy and I pick up Henry, another wonderful pet sitting client, and head off to the dog park. Daisy, as is her wont, claims the full back seat as her own; sprawling across the full length of the seat so she can sleep comfortably. Henry rides shotgun; always alert for the lone squirrel crossing the street or another dog on a walk. On occasion, he looks over at me with his adorable puppy-dog eyes and I cannot help but pet him and tell him how cute he is – an absolute truth and he knows it.
Usually, when we drop Henry off, Daisy remains sprawled in the back sleeping until we near home and then like some hidden radar, she sits up (after the 1st stop sign on our street) and looks out the window. Sometimes, she will stand up, tail wagging, as she waits for me to pull into the driveway and then into the garage.
But, recently Daisy has added a new behavior. After we drop Henry off, she climbs into the front seat, where she sits until she falls asleep, head drooping down lower and lower until she finally lays down; or she curls up in a ball (so she can actually fit her lab body into the seat) and lays her head on my lap between the stick shift and my bottled water. It’s the first time she has really sought me out for affection in this way. I know I may be adding human emotion into the mix, but it’s almost as if she feels more at peace being near me. When she rides up front, her whole body relaxes and she sleeps more deeply, sometimes snoring gently. She seems to love that I can pet her continuously from that position.
For me, it is the most peaceful ride I have ever had. There is so much love that is contained in that one small moment in time. Knowing how afraid Daisy was to trust anyone, including me, for so long makes it all the more amazing and beautiful. How is that a dog so mistreated and unloved for so much of her early life could trust enough to let me see her vulnerable? I know I’ve said it before, but I really am lucky. She is one special dog and I don’t think I will ever be the same again. She has taught me so much in the past 11 months that she has been with me, including: love, patience, trust, commitment, beauty, peace, and the joy that comes from the small things in life. It’s my wish that everyone gets the chance to be blessed with the same.
Have a Daisy day on me.
Yeah. That’s definitely the moment our relationship changed.I’m smiling even now as I remember those moments. I love my Daisy.
How about you? Is there a moment when your relationship changed with your dog? A moment when you really connected? A moment when there was a breakthrough? I’d love to hear your story.
For last week’s Wordless Wednesday, I shared a photo of some of the dogs (including Jasper) playing chase at the dog park. There were actually a series of photos I took that day featuring the same group. I thought I would share them today and make it an easy going Monday morning post.
I hope they bring you a small smile as you begin your week. Have a great day!
Tonight, I was listening to some music and playing with my dogs. I don’t know about you, but I love music. It can be such a great reflection of my emotions – happy, sad, angry, silly, etc. Sometimes music brings me up when I am down or makes me dance when all I had wanted to do before was sit down and relax. Music has a way of moving us in various ways.
Music can also be a great way to define ourselves or our friends or a specific situation. And sometimes, it becomes our theme song (at least in our heads).
Thinking about music and playing with my dogs made me wonder… was there a song that I would consider a theme song for each of my dogs? And then, before I could even think about it some more, Jasper’s theme song entered my head.
Born to be Wild by SteppenWolf
Jasper was so easy, but what about Lady? The images that came to me immediately were of Lady flirting with all the boy dogs at the dog park, and with Jasper at home. I get such a kick out of watching her. When she flirts, she practically dances – play bows, jumping in the air, sashaying around. How could I not see her in West Side Story?
I Feel Pretty from Westside Story.
Daisy was the hardest one though. What song could possibly describe my sweet, shy girl? My survivor? My inspiration? Suddenly, it came to me. For those who know Daisy’s story and know how much I love my girl, it will make perfect sense. I know this is more of a love song, but it is sweet and beautiful and describes how I feel about Daisy perfectly.
Your Song by Elton John
So what about your dogs? What song would you choose as a theme song for your dog? What song comes to mind when you think of her or him?
It’s Friday and after a tough week (going back to work after vacation is always hard) and sad news (Lennox), I figure we all probably need something to smile about.
If you had asked me 6 years ago if I ever wanted a Labrador Retriever, I would have said no. That was “before” Daisy. Now? Love, Love, Love Labs! So when I found this slow-mo video of a young Lab I knew I just had to share it. Seriously, how can you not love a Lab?
As soon as the thunder started, I put Daisy in her Thundershirt so she could be more comfortable. She is absolutely terrified of thunderstorms – she pants and paces and shakes like a leaf. Wearing her Thundershirt helps her to be less nervous. It’s also the only time that she prefers to cuddle (with the exception of her morning belly rubs). She spent the evening on the couch next to me as I rubbed her head and belly. I don’t like it when Daisy is so scared, but I do love the chance to cuddle with her. She is such a sweet and precious girl. She is my heart dog. I’m so glad that she finds my presence comforting when she is stressed.
Cuddling with Daisy is one of my favorite things I get to do with her. Knowing how long it took for her to want to cuddle with makes these moments all the more precious. I call these moments with her – “Daisytime.” There is no “too busy” in Daisytime. There is no “not now” in Daisytime. When these moments come, you take them. Because you never know when you will get them again.
Do you have your own favorite moments with your own dogs or cats? If so, what are they?
Connecting with Lizzie a couple of weeks ago, and seeing her video of Gracie, made me start looking through some old videos of Daisy. I’m disappointed that I have so few pictures and video of her from the early days. I kind of wish I had taken more to show her progress.
However, I do have two videos that were taken about a year after I adopted her. They’re a good reminder that Daisy wasn’t always a fearful dog, like she was around people and at home. She loved (and still loves) other dogs. At the dog park I always got to see a different side of her – the carefree, happy pup.
To me these videos are examples of Daisy’s second puppyhood. Considering she never really had the chance to be a puppy its probably more accurate to say this was her first puppyhood, but I am sure you get the point. Watching her in these videos it’s easy to see that her inner puppy was just dying to get out.
You’ll notice that when she gets excited she starts to bounce around and run around but doesn’t really engage the dogs yet. She did this a lot at the beginning, excited to see her friends, but not quite sure how to greet them. Just like watching a puppy discover it’s world for the first time. The dog she is running with is her friend Henry. Forgive the goofy laugh you hear in the background. That would be me.
This week I’m doing something a little different for Favorite Video Friday. I’m sharing a video from our friends, Lizzie and her dog, Gracie (see below), and some pictures of my dog, Daisy.
Lizzie and Gracie live across the pond (that BIG pond we call the Atlantic Ocean) in the United Kingdom.
When Lizzie first wrote to me in May of 2009, she had found Daisy’s blog through a mutual friend, Debbie Jacobs of fearfuldogs.com. She read Daisy’s story, and her search to find her inner Lab (after spending years in a puppy mill as a breeding dog), and shared her own story about her dog, Gracie. Gracie is also “an ex breeding dog from a puppy farm” , and even though Lizzie and I and Gracie and Daisy live so far apart, we have much in common. Both our dogs are from puppy mills, both are fearful, both of us were (and are) learning how to work with our dogs and to help them to be less fearful, and both of our dogs are Labs. Yellow Labs to be exact, and not just that, but yellow Labs that look so similar they could be sisters. Maybe that’s why I feel such a kinship with Lizzie and with Gracie. We’re both going through the same things at the same time and making real progress.
When Lizzie sent me this video, I cried. Why? Because in every picture I could see Daisy as she used to be (even though it was Gracie in every photo) and I could see the progress in Gracie as I had with Daisy. There is nothing to describe the joy you feel when you see a dog that is so fearful that they will chose to hide in a laundry basket (see the video to understand) rather than come to you blossom into a happy dog who wags their tail and is happy and finally enjoying life, love and affection. I don’t know if everyone will be able to relate to Lizzie’s loving tribute to her dog Gracie, but I hope that all of you will appreciate the progress Gracie has made and celebrate her success. Lizzie – you are a wonderful mom.
“I know how much I’ve learnt from Gracie but I look at those early shots from time to time just to remind me how utterly terrified she was, and how bad she must have felt. The photos of her in the laundry basket were taken on her first day here; she saw the open door under the stairs and leapt into the basket where it was dark. I can tell you I had a job to get her out, as at that time I could not get near her!” Lizzie
As an addendum, I have added some pictures of Daisy that mirror the ones of Gracie. Can you see the resemblance?
Happy Friday everyone!