Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Year Of Completely True Rue!

Miss True Blue Eyed Rue!

On January 1st we are celebrating the one year anniversary of adopting Completely True Rue!  Although I don't often write about Rue, perhaps it's the fact that she is a very...well...a very well behaved dog, and she lacks the material needed to supplement a reactive dog blog. However, even though she makes for a uneventful blog subject, she's no less significant in our home. I write a lot about Chico because his struggle with reactivity is often  misunderstood, in addition I feel that sharing his story might, even if in a small way, help other people by learning from our journey and maybe help to develop a greater bond with their reactive dog. 

Not too long ago I was asked if Rue had any "issues" since, she too, is adopted.  This comment made me smile.  I've never met a dog that didn't have some sort of "issue".  Whether it's a dog that was adopted, or bought from the top breeder.  Well socialized dogs still have "issues."  Issues can range from fear of people to fear of thunderstorms.  Some dog issues are less intense than others. In my opinion, just as there is no perfect human, there are no perfect dogs. But that doesn't mean that our dog's issues define who they are as a whole. Although Rue's issues are minimal, sometimes quirky, and easier to manage than Chico's,  they are there.  So this post is dedicated to the Miss True blue eyed Rue, who arrived in a frantic panic, frightened, and completely frazzled one year ago.

Completely True Rue-Female Border Collie

Rebellious Rue

When Rue first arrived at our home she displayed, what I would describe as, manic behavior.  Her behavior was so frantic, and her stare so intensely unwavering,  that we, for a moment, wondered what the heck had we gotten ourselves in to!?  Rue ran from room to room, jumped on people, jumped on the counters, door dashed, and played with toys obsessively.  Even Chico, who is three and a half years younger, seemed confused and worn out by her energy. Rue had many homes prior to coming to us.  From the information I have gathered that seems to be the way in which Rue copes with change and adjustments.  

We spent 6 weeks working on house manors and teaching her to have an "off switch". We used massage, calming voices, music, and we removed as much stimulus (stuffed squeaker toys and tugs) as possible. We established a chill out time. Normally the chill out time would commence around 8pm. During chill out time all the toys get put in the toy closet. After about 3 months, Rue was more calm, confident, and comfortable in our home.  Now when we put the toys away, Rue enjoys getting on the couch and snuggling up close to me or my husband. Rue has a wonderful temperament, and a tremendous amount of patience with Chico, kids, and other dogs. She is very easy to love, but initially she was very hard to manage.  You can read more about Rue's start to life in the blog post Who Is Your True Dog

Wild Rue!

Rue meet Pat...Pat meet Rue. Another issue we have had with Rue is her obsessive stalking of our, amazingly old, house cat. Pat the cat, also known as, the Queen of counter tops, and Chico's boss, has had to put up with constant stalking and the penetrating blue eyed laser stare. This a big change from how Pat used to live. She ruled the castle. But Pat has found her own ways of dealing with Rue's behavior. Waiting until Rue is asleep and sprinting past her has become the cat's favorite thrill sport.  We have managed, and thankfully, and minimized this stalking behavior with tons of patience, diligence, redirection, and lots of yummy treats. Pat is no longer the 8th wonder of the world, although she still a ranks right up there.  Rue has learned "leave her" means, put your tongue back in your mouth and redirect that stare to the treats in my hand. Rue has learned the cat is far less interesting than some lovin, treats, or praise. Rue seems to know now that the Pat is part of the pack as much as she is.  The house is a much happier place now that we can manage that behavior. 

Among other things we worked on was jumping.  Like many dogs, Kanga-Rue had a bad habit of jumping on people.  This is something that we continue to manage even a year later.  During the first months Rue would jump up and hit you in the face, often because she wanted attention.  I can't tell you how many headaches were caused from her jumping and hitting me in the nose and eyes.  We curbed her jumps two ways: I taught her to "Leap" on cue.  Yep, I rewarded the heck out of that! And now, look out when I say "Leap!"  Rue is an excellent jumper and my guess is she can leap as high as 5 feet!  The other thing we did was asked Rue for a "sit" which was a behavior she knew. We made it into her default for getting petted.  In order for her to get her loves, she had to be sitting.  This helped her to understand jumping didn't get her what she wanted.  It's made a huge difference and a year later does really well... But sometimes still needs a little reminder. 


The Big Bang "Issues"

Besides some manor issues we also quickly noticed that Rue had separation anxiety. When we were not home Rue was initially crated.  We spent  time playing crate games which seemed to help with her anxiety some, but truly she hated being separated from Chico and missed her people.  So after we deemed her trustworthy, she and Chico (who already had run of the house) earned the privileged of  roaming the house while we are gone.  This seems to have helped her separation anxiety greatly.  She also loves her stuffed Kong.  Every time we leave she's learned that she gets a wonderful treats.  It appears the separation anxiety is most extreme when we are getting ready to leave.  After a short time of our absence she seems to settle in and is much less anxious.  Who could blame her? She's had a lot of homes and a very unsettled life.  

Spring always brings a bang and particularly this year in our home with Rue.  Much to our surprise Rue has a fear of thunderstorms.  Again we took to conditioning her with food, but Rue was so frightened she couldn't eat when it stormed.  We tried the Thundershirt, DAP spray and Thunderstorm recorded CD's.  These didn't seem to help ease Rue's anxiety.  Since the weather is unpredictable we decided to train her to go to her safe spot when it stormed, which is her crate.  Whenever it storms, she goes to her crate and rests quietly.  This is probably the best training for her since we often work when it's storming and can't be there to help.  This training was just what she needed and seems most confident and calm in her crate.  We'll continue to work through it, but at least I know she's safe and as comfortable as possible when we can't be there.

Completely True Rue

It's been a great year with Rue.  We are so blessed that she fit right in with Chico and our family.  The two dogs are great companions and completely compatible.  Even with a few "issues" Rue is Completely True!  I'm curious to know what kind of issues your dog has had?  Were you able to work through them and how? 

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