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Mary, I am familiar with that blog and that story in particular. It is, indeed, the funniest dog story I have ever read. The first time I read it I had to get up and walk away from the computer because I was laughing so hard and could not stop! But....I had forgotten that particular part, and seeing it this morning made me laugh and feel good. Although I know that Kelso isn't Simple, he nevertheless is a dog, and it is so funny what will work on dogs sometimes, isn't it? That image is definitely describing Kelso these days! :lol:

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Wow, wow, wow! that's me, barking with glee. :DKelso walked on a leash!! :D :D !!!

 

In my last post, I told how I got him to go out the door and be unafraid with the squeaky. This morning early we went out and played, and then I decided to walk him again just a few yards down the road, if he would go, using the toy to keep him going. After several yards, he looked away from the toy and I quietly slipped it into my pocket and just kept walking. Jes and Kit were, of course, happily ranging ahead and sniffing. And Kelso just trotted along behind them on the leash!! I have a leash that is about 10 feet long, and I had him on that, with a soft slip collar so that he couldn't get away if he were startled. We live at the end of a 2/10th mile long dirt road 20 miles outside of town, with no traffic except the 4 neighbors I have. Kelso trotted along and sniffed and kept his head up, with me grinning along behind him watching his every move for signals. We got about half way down the road and suddenly he stopped dead, as if he were thinking, "what am I doing???" and turned back toward the house. Of course I simply went with him, keeping the leash slack at all times. And we trotted back to the house, and had breakfast.

 

This is SO big! I cannot believe the sudden burst of progress he has had in the last week. It is amazing. And it teaches me something: with Kelso it will not always be one step after another. There will be periods of no apparent progress, and I mustn't get discouraged, because there will be another burst of forward movement eventually. I am so happy for Kelso, and for the first time I am starting to have daydreams of him riding in the car, going to a park in the city, maybe even to someone's house eventually, and Petsmart to pick out a toy. One small step at a time.

 

I feel so very lucky to be able to share this journey with Kelso!

:D

D'Elle

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We got about half way down the road and suddenly he stopped dead, as if he were thinking, "what am I doing???" and turned back toward the house. Of course I simply went with him, keeping the leash slack at all times. And we trotted back to the house, and had breakfast.

That's extremely encouraging. Repeat that a few times until his confidence grows and he'll be going everywhere with you.

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When I first started this thread, I knew that this would be my way of "keeping a journal" of Kelso's and my work together, and his progress. I am so glad that I have done this, because today for the first time I re-read the posts, and found out that I had already tried to use the squeaky toy one time to get him out the front door and it had not worked. I posted that about a month ago! How easy it is to forget stuff like that.....Just more proof that these things happen in their own time. At any rate, without all of you reading this and encouraging me, I probably never would have kept this record, and it is valuable to me. Many thanks to all of you. I will have to try to copy the thread eventually and save it on my computer.

 

Also, although I said he came to lie by my chair for the first time last week, he actually has done it a couple of times before. So the fact is that it has happened, but has been very sporadic.

 

Each day now he gets several minutes of TTouch, especially right after we come in from playing. He is less apt to shy away from me now. He doesn't approach me unless I have food or the toy, but he will allow me to approach him without shying away as long as I do it properly. Putting on the Dreaded Leash still takes me following him into the laundry room; he won't stand still for it. But once there, I can slip it gently over his head, and once it is on him, he will run to the front door and out with the other dogs to play. It now being Summer In Tucson, outdoor play is limited to earlier than 6:30 AM or just after the sun goes down and before it gets dark, but we get it in every day. I get up early, anyway :)

 

Kelso is getting a little farther down our road each day. Our routine now is that we go out and play a little while, with me running him around me to get him some exercise, and then we walk down the road. Yesterday a barky but harmless dog came out of his yard and Kelso freaked out completely. I was too busy trying to keep him from strangling on the leash and telling the barky dog to go away that I did not have an extra hand to hit the squeaky toy in my pocket. But once I did, he came out of it, although he wanted to go home and so we did. This morning he was nervous going by that place, but the dog didn't come out and we went farther down the road than before. Each day a little more.

 

I have not told you much about Kelso's good behavior in the house. I have not had to watch him for fear of peeing for several weeks now, and consider him housebroken without my having to work at it. I corrected him one or two times when I caught him peeing by saying "ah-ah" and taking him outside, and he hasn't done it since. He never makes a single sound. He doesn't chew anything. He doesn't counter-surf or get into the garbage. Now that it is summer, I leave the dogs indoors while I am gone so they can be in air conditioning, and for a week or so I have left them all free in the house all day with not one single incident of anything. He takes treats with the utmost gentleness. He has amazingly good manners for a dog who came from where he was. I am so lucky to have him. I can hardly imagine having a shut-down unsocialized puppy-mill dog who was also a problem in the house. That would double the work and make it stressful. Kelso is a joy.

 

This weekend I am going to have a friend videotape us playing outside. I will try to post some of it here if I can figure out how to do it. I am ok with photos, but don't know a thing about doing anything with video yet.

 

Kelso is teaching me so much. I am ever so grateful to him. His presence in my life has been and continues to be a blessing.

D'Elle

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I feel so happy this morning. Kelso made a sound, for the first time! I got up later than usual, and so had to hurry all three dogs out for their morning walk before it got too warm. Kelso will now trot beautifully along on the leash with me, as long as I have the squeaky toy in my pocket to keep him going when he gets hesitant. If he tells me that he has gone far enough and wants to go back to safety, I always let him take us back to the house. He will not go far from the house yet, only about 2/10th of a mile, but it is a good start.

 

When we returned, I decided to play out front with my dogs only because it was soon going to be too warm for them to run. I popped Kelso in the house, and started throwing the disk for Jes and Kit, and immediately there was the sound of Thundering Paws, as Kelso raced back and forth in the house. And then I heard from behind the screen door a distinct whine! Kelso did not want to be left out. Immediately I brought my dogs in and we went out into the fenced back yard to play so Kelso could join us. He looked so happy!

 

I still cannot approach Kelso directly without his moving away but if I come to him sideways and not looking directly at him he will stay put for me to pet him, and once I am there we can hold eye contact for a few seconds. What I see in his eyes touches my heart deeply. Inside, he is a fine and gentle dog, who wants to learn to trust, I believe. If you all could see into his eyes the way I do........

 

Saturday morning I had friends for brunch. Kelso hid in the bathroom the whole time and of course I did not ask him to come out, but four people individually went in one at a time and, without looking directly at him, approached him slowly and put down liverwurst. Each of them then stayed with him for 5 to 10 minutes, carefully and slowly petting and talking or singing to him, and each one reported that he eventually relaxed under their hands. I think that is great!

 

Kelso is now sleeping in my bedroom along with my two dogs. Although he will not approach the bed to get petted in the morning when I am having my morning love-in with Jes and Kit on the bed, he does get waggy and happy. This morning he seemed happier than usual, and even stretched out his head toward me to be petted, rather than moving away. He is starting in small ways to make himself part of the pack here, and it does my heart good to see this. :D

 

D'Elle

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Kelso seems to have regressed in some ways, and yet is making progress in others.

 

He used to come and mill around with the other dogs when it was treat time, and now he disappears, and will not come to me to get it out of my hand. He used to be willing to lie comfortably in the same room with me, now he is nervous unless I allow him to go back into my bathroom where he likes to hang out now. He was actually coming close to me to be petted first thing in the morning, now he won't come close at all. He used to eat next to me, now he will not eat until I leave that area and then he creeps up on his food.

 

Nothing I can think of has actually happened to cause him to change, so I can only assume that it is a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing and he will come along again in his own time. His progress never has been steadily forward, so I know better than to think, at this point, that I am doing something wrong.........but I cannot help wishing he would get over this phase and come toward me again.

 

And, while I was bragging that he is housebroken, just last night he started acting that way and I watched him and sure enough he started to lift his leg. I stopped him with "AH-ah!" and sent him outside. <sigh>

 

He still runs into the bathroom when he sees the leash, but once it is on him he is suddenly fine and will wait at the door politely with my dogs and then dash out when released. That wait is really the only thing I have taught him so far. He is walking nicely on the leash about half the time; the rest of the time he is fighting it or trying to run. Any little thing will spook him and he wants to go home. But I still consider that progress.

 

And he continues to be crazy about squeaky toys. The most progress is in his tugging: he now will tug hard with me, and hang on like crazy while I pull back or move my arm from side to side. He's not as strong at it as my Kit, who could tow a car if she wanted to, but his strength and confidence is building at least with respect to tugging. I plan to use the tug toy as reward when I start to train him, and I am hoping the squeaky will help me to get him into the car, although I have not tried it yet.

 

The heat at this time of year limits our time outdoors pretty severely. We really only have before the sun comes up, or after it goes down and is still light out, to do anything strenuous outdoors. Once Monsoon starts it may be a bit cooler some days.

D'Elle

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just saw this thread and enjoyed reading the progress Kelso has made. You have done wonderful with him! He's very lucky to have found you.

 

I rescued Danny on Sept. 4, 2010. He was one of the BC's rescued from the Swafford puppy mill in TN. He was so much like Kelso, it's scary. He's come a long way, but there are still things that he won't do. He still won't walk out front. It's just too much for him. We had a lot of trouble with the potty training, but now he potties on command. He's much more comfortable when people come over..he used to hide, but now he'll investigate, but still won't go too near. He loves his back yard (such that it is), but loves it much more at night. That's when he really lets loose and the puppy comes out in him. He has me laughing so hard at his antics. He'll initiate play with Lacee and the two really go at it. He's ball obsessed, where before he didn't know what a ball was. There's more, I just can't think of them right now.

 

So, just to let you know, don't give up. It's taken me 10 months to get to where I am and we still have hurdles to jump. But he's happy and content and that's all that counts. Keep up the good work!!

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Thanks for your kind words. I didn't mean to hijack this thread. I just love so much hearing about others who are working as hard to make a difference in a dogs life. I might post some short videos of Danny....but it's kind of embarrassing, after seeing all these great videos of dogs herding and such. ;)

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What's wrong with chiming in about Danny here? This is where people will truly understand what you are doing and what you have done. Hooray for both of you!!!

 

Videos are fine - no dog is less a dog and less worthwhile because he/she is not doing something "great" or "impressive". They are each important in our own minds for similar and different reasons.

 

Enjoy! And share your Danny with us!

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Love2napp, I agree with the above posts, and do not feel you are hijacking the thread. For me, it is often very encouraging to hear from someone else who has worked with a puppy mill dog. There have been many times I have doubted my ability to do right by Kelso, have felt discouraged, or wondered if I am doing the correct thing with him. In fact, I seem to cycle through all of those emotions regularly. Knowing that others have had success, and that there are different kinds of success but all are meaningful, is bracing to my spirit.

 

Kelso has been on a no-progress plateau for what seems like a long time to me, and I have to work not to feel discouraged or to doubt myself. The thing is that I never really know whether what I am doing is helpful or counter-productive unless I have fairly immediate results, and that is rare with Kelso. Most often I will try something with him for a week or two, have no results that I can see or measure, and will then have to decide if it is time to abandon that method or not. The difficult thing for me is that for all I know, a breakthrough is just around the next corner, but it is equally possible that my current method is counter-productive. It is not at all like training any other dog I have ever had in foster, even though I typically take frightened and unsocialized dogs. Kelso for me is a whole different experience and it is primarily trial-and-error.

 

His most recent change does seem to be for the better. Kelso had grown a little closer to me, willing to lie in the same room with me and coming to mill around the kitchen with the other dogs while treats were being passed out. Then that suddenly changed and he wouldn't come anywhere near me no matter what I had in my hand. I simply stopped giving him treats. I knew that if I took them to where he was he would have no motivation to come out again. Weeks went by. Just this week he is suddenly back again, taking treats from my hand. I have not been able to correlate his changes with anything I have done or not done, and herein lies my frustration and doubt. All I can do is rejoice when he takes a step forward. More accurately it is usually a step and a half forward and one step back.

 

Kelso now tugs with me very vigorously, and this is helping him to grow stronger and finally build some muscle for the first time in his life. He has not yet learned to play tug with Kit, although she has given him many opportunities. He still runs away when he sees the leash, although once it is on him he goes out the front door very eagerly and loves to go for a walk. However, once he decides he has gotten far enough away from the house that is is scary, he demands to turn and go home again. If I try to get him to go farther he quickly descends into hysteria, so I allow him to choose the return time. On the way out he walks with perfect leash manners. On the way back it takes a long time because he always wants to bolt for the safety of yard and house, and I stop and stand still every time he pulls on the leash. In spite of many repetitions, it has not yet sunk in to him that if he trots nicely he won't have to stop.

 

Kelso is not stupid. I see a lot of intelligence in those eyes. But he has never learned how to learn from a human being.

 

He is beautiful, gentle, and playful. He has no bad habits and I have never seen one smidge of any kind of aggression. But he may never be a friendly dog. I hope that some day there will be someone who wants him. Someone who doesn't think their dog needs to love everyone or be outgoing or be an agility champion. Someone patient, who is willing to let him be who he is while encouraging him to stretch outside his comfort zone.

 

When Jester came to live with me 8 years ago he had, to my knowledge, never been abused. But neither had he ever been allowed to form a close relationship with a person until he went into foster care in the rescue. For the first two and a half years that I had Jester, a person could come to my house, stay for hours, and never even know I had a dog. He spent most of his time hiding in the farthest, darkest corner he could find. 8 years ago I did not know what I know now about positive reinforcement training and I simply let him be. I didn't like it that he was not outgoing but I figured that this was the dog I chose, and so be it. He was a good learner and smart and playful and an extremely good natured companion, so I would allow him to be who he was. Jester came out on his own. Now, he performs doing canine freestyle with me. He loves the crowd and gets excited when he dances with me and the audience cheers. Meet-and-greet is one of his favorite things, and everyone is a friend. I didn't "do" anything to make him take this path. He did it on his own.

 

I have thought in retrospect that if I had known what I know now I could have gotten Jester out of his shell much faster and it would have been beneficial for him. But now I have Kelso in my home and I have tried all the things that I have thought I could have done with Jes in those beginning times, and none of them have "worked" on Kelso. By which I mean, Kelso is not out of his corner, not by a long shot.

 

Now, I know Jes and Kelso are not comparable at all. Nothing compares to having been kept in a tiny wire cage and never having been allowed to be a dog or have loving attention. But it does make me wonder if this kind of thing really relies more on the dog's own sense of timing...the pace of the dog's own process...rather than on what we do. On the days when I feel discouraged I tell myself that just giving Kelso the space into which he can, when he is ready, come out and be loved may be enough, and may in fact be the best I can do at times. There is no way of really knowing if this is true or not.

D'Elle

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Kelso is not stupid. I see a lot of intelligence in those eyes. But he has never learned how to learn from a human being.

Like Mary, I also was really struck by your observation. And it's amazing where your patience got you with Jester! I am so impressed by your work with Kelso. Have faith.

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I can only assume that Kelso's options were limited if you had not taken him in. Everything I have read indicates to me that he is making postive, albeit, tiny steps forward and it is all because you have worked so hard with him. Kelso is a very lucky boy!! Kudos to you for sticking with him!!

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D'Elle, you're doing a GREAT job.

 

I just finished reading this thread.

 

YOU SHOULD TOO! :) Go back and read the whole thing over again, where you were with Kelso when you got him, and look where you are now. You've made tremendous progress!

 

Don't get discouraged. It took me 3 weeks to coax Bessie up to the back door (she and her sister were cowering in the back yard, in the rain, and wouldn't even get under the breezeway because it was too close to the house). Bonnie, her sister, still wouldn't (Bessie is the more adventurous) for another couple of weeks. Now, this was to get them up to the door with chicken. Several more weeks to actually get them INSIDE the house. I left food out and it was gone every morning, and they were obviously eating it, but it was tough sledding. I didn't rush them, just kept at it.

 

Today (3 years later) Bonnie is living with my buddy in Arkansas, is his constant companion, does flyball, does couch potato, sleeps in his bed with all 4's in the air, lounges, likes all his friends and their dogs, and basically is a happy, healthy, much-loved companion...

 

And at my house, Bessie is a sweet, loving, playful BC who loves nothing better (other than a walk....) than to curl up by my chair (or better, in my lap). She plays with her "sisters" Lucy and Ethel, naps on the couch, wards off the bad guys (she's a great watch dog; those trash men and mailmen better watch their step!).

 

You WILL get it done! It's only been since April! Don't get discouraged, don't give up! Kelso will be fine one of these days, and you'll look back on all this and smile.

 

 

(Oh, and: Bess still doesn't like sudden loud noises, is not fond of thunderstorms, and panics a little when introduced to another dog (besides her "sisters"). She may have these always. It truly is two steps forward, one step back).

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"But he has never learned how to learn from a human being."

 

I've had two rescue BCs and both have had to learn how to learn. Ellie Mae came to me when she was 10 years old and I started to train her just to have something to do with her. At first, Ellie would lay down and die. ("I can't possibly do what you want, whatever that is. Can't you see I'm dead.") Later, as she started to get the hang of it, Ellie would panic when she didn't know what to do. ("Oh, No! I don't know why I lost my first family, but I sure don't want to lose this one!") We persevered, used lots of treats, and gently got Ellie to do what she was supposed to. It took more than a few months for Ellie to become comfortable with training, but it worked. Ellie finally got so into training that when she didn't quite know what to so, you could see the wheels turning while she tried to figure it out. ("Lagrange polynomial, no, Bessel function, no, Schrodinger equation, no, maybe she she just wants me to do a broad jump.") There was no panic or hysteria, just heavy duty dog thinking. Ellie Mae loved training until the day she died.

 

My second rescue, Roscoe, came to me when he was about a year old. Roscoe and I are still working through some of his "learning to learn" issues and I've had him almost five months. When he first arrived on the scene Roscoe had no clue that he was supposed to do what the human asked. Roscoe is a tough little dog with no where near the rescue issues that Kelso has so I don't get the dead dog or panic attacks from him. Right now, when he gets stressed, Roscoe either chases hummingbirds or pretends I'm not there ("Don't you know, I'm both blind and deaf!") and I have to find the long line, get the squeak toy out, and double the amount of weenies I'm using. Roscoe is getting better all the time and I know we'll succeed.

 

My advice is stick with it, use lots of treats and squeakies. Make sure Kelso gets lots of encouragement and feels comfortable making mistakes. It takes a lot of time to learn about learning but it will happen.

 

Good luck and I certainly admire your patience.

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Thanks to all for the encouragement!

 

Yes, I think it is a bit like the Helen Keller story (thanks for that film clip). First, one has to understand that there is a thing called Learning. That is where Kelso is.....not just bumbling around totally in the Dark and Scary any more, but not understanding yet that he can learn from human beings and it will be to his benefit.

 

This morning, though, we did go for several yards toward the house on a loose leash, so it will be very interesting to see if this is something that will be repeated tomorrow.

 

Malvie, thanks for the encouragement - especially your stories of foster dogs. I do believe that it will simply take time, more than anything else, and the safe space I try to provide for him.

 

CebakaLaika, you really gave me a laugh with your post. ("Can't you see I'm dead" :lol: ) It helps to inject a bit of humor into the situation, to be sure!! Kelso has his funny moments, too. :) There's nothing healthier than laughter; it will get you through things that literally nothing else will.

 

I have never once worked positive reinfrocement training with a young puppy without immediate and delightful success. It never takes more than a few minutes to teach the puppy to sit, down, come, and "front". It is so easy. And if you continue, the dog will always be ready to learn whatever you want to teach. It is such a waste of potential, and so wrong, when people mistreat dogs. I just hate it and would give my life if I could change that. But I take comfort in what Mother

Teresa said: "You do not have to do Great Things, simply do small things with great love". I am dedicated to helping this dog, and then this dog, and then this dog. It's small compared to what I wish I could do for dogs in general, but it makes a difference in this dog's life.

thanks so much for all the support :D

D'Elle

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