Daisy learns to drink from a water jug – A look back
Today I am taking another look back to the early years when Daisy first 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. It highlights the progress Daisy has made since 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.
When Daisy first came to stay with Aspen and I as a foster dog, I gave her space. I didn’t try to force myself on her or ask her to do anything. I didn’t try to get her to trust me right away. Instead, I let her settle in. I let her get a feel for the place and for our routine.
Over time, she started to come out of her shell, and as she did, I started to introduce her to long walks in the neighborhood and tips to the dog park. She was always her happiest at the dog park. It was the one place she seemed most happy. She was able to interact with other dogs and she had enough space to get away from humans if she felt uncomfortable.
I loved to watch her interact with dogs in those early days. She was fascinated by them. She wanted to “be” them and would often mimic their behaviors in an attempt to be like them.
You would think being a dog would come instinctively, and to some degree I am sure that it does, but for Daisy, these novelties had never been experienced – toys, sticks, playing, chasing birds or rabbits, swimming, etc.
One of the things that fascinated Daisy was the way some dogs would drink water directly from the water jug instead of waiting until it was in the bowl and drinking it from there. I cannot count how many times I watched Daisy watching other dogs as they drank directly from the jug at the dog park. She was intrigued by this behavior. It was if she was trying to figure out whether she had been doing it wrong all along and needed to needed to change her approach.
One day, her curiosity got the better of her, and as I started to pour water into the water dish she leaned in and tried to drink the water as it flowed out. Water spilled all over her snout. She sputtered and backed up. Then tentatively, she leaned in again and tried to drink from the flow again. Success!
It might seem like a small thing, but I was so proud of her for trying something new and for being brave enough to try again when she didn’t succeed the first time. Many dogs that come from puppy mills are so damaged that trying anything new is beyond their ability or comprehension. Daisy showed me that she might be tentative and afraid and skittish, but she was capable of observing, learning and working things out. She wasn’t afraid to try something new. To explore. To satisfy her curiosity.
You would think that with Daisy’s small success in drinking water from a water jug she would have continued to do so. She did, for about a week, then she decided that she really preferred drinking from the water dish instead. Why? I suspect it’s because she really prefers dunking her whole snout in the water then having it pour over it.
I love this about her too. Daisy is happy to experiment and explore and learn from other dogs, but in the end she keeps what she prefers and discards the rest. She is her own dog. There’s something to be said about that – Go Daisy Go!