Daisy and Water: Who’d have thunk it? – A Look Back
Today I am taking another look back to the early years when Daisy came to live with me. Daisy is a former puppy mill breeding dog who was estimated to be four years old at the time I adopted her. She was afraid of everyone and everything. She practically crawled on the ground the first few days she came to live with me. This is an old blog post from Daisy’s blog, “Daisy the Wonder Dog (and how she found her inner Lab).” It highlights the progress Daisy had made after I adopted her in 2007.
I hope it gives hope to those who have a damaged or unsocialized dog. Progress can be made. It takes time and patience and often happens in fits and starts – for every step forward, there are two steps back, but it is so rewarding when you start to take those steps forward. The key is to never give up hope. You need a lot of patience and understanding. You also need learn to learn to celebrate the small successes.
This post is from April 25, 2010, about two and a half years after Daisy first came to live with me. Since this post was written Daisy has learned to swim and has done so in several lakes and in the Mississippi River.
If you’ve owned a Labrador Retriever at any time in your life, then you know that they LOVE water! It’s instinctual right? It’s part of what makes a Lab a Lab.
When I first got Daisy, I made that assumption too. After all, ALL labs love water right? As it turns out, not necessarily. Daisy taught me that one should not make assumptions where dogs are concerned. Not all dogs are the same and not all dogs fit what we think is instinctual to a breed. Early experience has a lot to do with how dogs react to and deal with new things, including people, other dogs, and, as it turns out, water.
Daisy’s first experience with water was tentative at best. I remember walking down to the lake near a hiking trail we use. I thought that she would run right in, but instead, Daisy came to a dead stop and refused to go near the water. She looked at it, watched it for a while, watched other dogs playing in it, but she had no intention of entering it. It was only after I took my shoes off, rolled up my pant legs and went in myself, that she took her first steps into the lake. You could tell she was nervous. Unsure and scared. Having lived in a cage all her life, she had never experienced a lake or a pool. Her only experience with water was probably what came out of a hose or what appeared in her water dish. On Daisy’s first foray into water, she would only go in far enough to get her toes wet. Then, it was back to shore (where she felt safest) to hang out on the beach or explore the nearby woods. That was good enough for her.
Over time, Daisy has become more comfortable around water. I got her a kiddie pool that summer. I am certain my neighbors thought I was insane. A pool for a dog? Seriously? But, it was a great way to expose Daisy to water and let her decide on her own terms if she wanted any part of it. I’ll admit. I kind of hoped that instinct would kick in and she would suddenly decide that playing in water was fun. Instead, she came to view the pool as more of a giant water dish. It was great to stand outside of it and get a drink, but step into it? Uh-huh. She wasn’t sure about this pool-thing. But after watching some of her friends enjoy the pool and hang out in it over the summer, she finally gave it a try and stepped in… to drink some water.
And so, that’s how it has been for the past 2 1/2 years – Daisy walks into the water (not too deep!) and drinks. On occasion, she has even dipped her whole snout into the water (very definitely a Lab thing to do!). Until this year.
I don’t know if it’s because she now has a companion who is not afraid of water (Jasper) or if it is because Daisy finally seems to be coming into her own (i.e., finding her inner Lab), but for some reason this year something has changed. Something has clicked with Daisy.
We’ve been lucky enough to have an early spring this year, so we’ve already hiked the park trail several times this year. Daisy and Jasper have really enjoyed the opportunity to check out all the new smells and to fly through the woods, chasing one another, flying over fallen trees and tall prairie grass – wild and free. She and Jasper have also enjoyed taking a dip in the lake that is along the trail. In the past, Daisy would have approached the lake slowly and gone in just far enough to dip her snout and lap up some water. But, not this year! Daisy has suddenly taken a liking to water. Something I have never seen her do before. Now, she thinks nothing of going in far enough to get her belly wet. She stays in longer and enjoys dipping her snout in and walking around. She has even taken to sticking her whole head under water! Who’d have thunk it?
I think today’s adventure was perhaps my favorite. Oh how I wish I had brought my camera!
This afternoon, Jasper was chasing after Daisy, who was running full out through the woods, stretching her legs as she flew across the wooded floor and out into the clearing along the lake. Without hesitation, she continued into the clearing, ran down the hill and… straight into the lake! Then she did something unusual. She began to leap and jump in the water in such a way that I can only describe it as ‘frolicking’. Daisy was having fun. Water was finally fun!
The moment didn’t last long. She and Jasper splashed around. She dunked her snout, lapped up some water and that was it. She was done. But it was more than enough to bring a huge smile to my face. Daisy was no longer afraid of water. She loved it. Who’d have thunk it? Go Daisy Go!