Wolfskin's diary part 5
Sunday, May 1st, 2016
Now a whole week has passed. Spring has arrived and we have beautiful weather outside. It breaks my heart to see Shunka frolicking outside and Wolfskin not there...
I was able to put Wolfskin's collar on without any problems and then put on the short leash on Monday. At some point the long drag line should be attached so that he can move freely in his enclosure without pressure on his neck. That's the plan.
But Wolfskin doesn't want to get out. He prefers to stay indoors, either in the bathroom or on his new favorite spot under my desk. He makes such a happy and secure impression there that I sometimes wonder if a few things became clear to him when he went it alone... Well, in any case he can hold his business - small and large - for the whole day, if necessary two, just so that he doesn't necessarily have to go out. However, another event is probably to blame.
On Monday, as always, I drove home from work during the lunch break. Wolfskin was already waiting in the hallway, apparently he actually wanted to get out! I put his short leash on his collar (this currently only works when he's lying in a corner somewhere and feels safe) and let him into the stairwell, where I just wanted to attach the long leash to him, as it had worked well before . However, at that time I had put his towing line on the short chain outside and not in the hallway.
Up until then, Wolfskin was calm and not at all excited or scared. But this time he panicked so much when he saw the long tow line that instead of fleeing back into the apartment he broke through the lattice to the basement stairs, literally levered it out and disappeared into the basement with its 6 open rooms. big sh... ! Three quarters of an hour passed before I could get the mouse back up from there. Of course, that catapulted us back by days, and I'm annoyed with myself that I didn't want to comply with the request to no longer let Wolfskin into the enclosure without a leash. He's just not there yet, and we're taking it a notch slower now. Baby steps, one small at a time. He's built up quite a bit of trust now, and I'm not going to destroy that under any circumstances. We give him the time he needs, he's been through enough bad things.
To see what our mice are up to while we're at work, I ordered a surveillance camera. I'm still too stupid to install it but I'm hopeful that I can do it... And I also hope that I don't necessarily get to see such pictures, hahaha....
It's progressing. Wolfskin is becoming more and more trusting, courageous and interested. He goes out regularly again; he's usually already waiting for me in the hallway when I get home from work. We practiced putting the collar on and taking it off and on and off. Sometimes things go really well, other days he relapses into his fear. But those days are getting rarer. Wolfskin is building more and more trust. When we go outside, he waits quietly next to me until I open the front door. We then also closed the door so that he wouldn't run right back into the house and crawl into his corner. The first few times he walked along the fence, totally excited and insecure, always looking longingly at the closed door. That has also improved. He accepts the closed door and is even able to relax enough that I can crouch next to him and brush him without any problems. Little connoisseurs like that! The last few days it was even like that, despite the open front door, he didn't jump back upstairs immediately after doing his business. Wolfskin stayed in the front hut and let himself be petted extensively. That would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago! I'm getting the feeling that he doesn't think his life is that bad after all... The years in Romania shaped him. Together with 800 dogs in the camp of the animal protection organization, always noise, fighting for food and a quiet place. I think he's enjoying his peace now, always a nice place to rest and feed all to himself. And lots of attention and cuddles. And once we have solved the leash problem, his life with walks and romping around will be really nice. He just doesn't know yet...
He now prefers to lie next to my bed under the desk. This is his castle, his place where he feels safe. Almost every evening I lie under the table with him for half an hour and I tell him about my day and pet him. Wolfskin relaxes completely, sometimes even almost falling asleep. If I take my hands away, his head shoots up and he looks at me questioningly. No more turning away, no more stand by. And that's such a nice feeling. During the day he has gotten into the habit of moving his resting place to my bed. At first I only saw it because there was a lot of hair on it and the comforter was dented. As soon as he heard the apartment door, he quickly disappeared into his hiding place. But recently I caught him in the act. I didn't scold him, didn't put him down and talked nice to him. Since then it doesn't bother him anymore when he gets caught on the bed :-) But he still won't let me sit next to him, so he jumps down. Now Wolfskin is coming to us more often, just see what we're doing. Suddenly he appears in the kitchen behind me, or curls up in Josy's mini basket in the living room when we're lying on the couch in the evening. Maybe he's already looking for us?
Next weekend I will try again to get him used to a long leash in the enclosure. Just put on the collar and leave the leash. What does it mean - everything that causes other dogs to dance for joy is a hard fight with himself and his deep-seated trauma for Wolfskin. But we can do it. He's such a great boy and we've come a long way in the 8 weeks he's been with us. What are 2 months in relation to many years of dog misery?
You just look for the smallest of all available
Basket out .... your legs have to be outside
This morning I had a great experience with my Wolfskin... He can now be stroked and touched. No problem. For a few days he has chosen my bed in my room as his lawn, but only when nobody is at home. He doesn't feel safe enough there, with nowhere to hide, no "roof" over his head and no cave feeling. That's why he always jumped down as soon as I "caught" him. Something really nice happened this morning, check out the video for yourself! Still a bit skeptical, but less against me than against the thought that he might not be allowed to stay there... Of course he can, if he lets me into MY territory. He got it, and last night he didn't even look up when I stretched out beside him! It's such a wonderful feeling that only other anxiety dog owners who know how happy it is to make even the tiniest step forward can probably relate. And how happy to be able to approach his own bed without any problems, hehehe....
Over a week has passed since my last entry here. A week without far-reaching changes, but with many small, important steps forward.
Wolfskin is becoming more and more trusting. I no longer have to approach him carefully and from the side - I can walk up "normally". approach him without him turning around and disappearing into his corner. Sometimes he just stands there and waits to be petted. Of course he never waits in vain ;-) We also continue the leash training. In the meantime, he can be put on both the short and the long leash without any problems. And that's huge progress! Until recently I only had to get close to him with the leash or chain or he would hear the snap of the carabiner - then he was just a rolled-up pile of fur in the farthest corner. We practiced that and practiced it, now he sits, lies or even stands still when I hang up the leash. I can also lift them up, over his head and over his back. Not a big problem anymore. He just doesn't feel comfortable walking on it yet. He just lays flat and stays there. Preferably in front of the closed front door, always with a longing look that it may open soon and that he is rid of the annoying thing himself... If I can motivate him to take a few steps, I'll be happy like a king. But his posture is crouched and afraid, always along the fence. Just completely typical of a scared dog. But we'll manage that. Soon we will take him outside, out of the enclosure. That's what he needs. With the long towing line, loose and without pressure on the neck. Then he will soon be able to forget the leash as an instrument of torture and understand that "outside" is not just stupid leash training, but super nice and interesting! Romping around in the meadow with Shunka - he knows from his "trip" how nice it is. And soon he will know that freedom is "outside" and his safe and comfortable "inside" connected to each other and he no longer has to leave here.
Such a place in the sun is something fine!
Sunday, May 5th, 2016
A lot has happened in the last two weeks. Wolfskin is making such great progress! Last week, for example, I came home from work and, as usual, Wolfskin stood in the hallway and waited for the door to open. But this time - I couldn't believe my eyes! - he actually wagged his tail! Not this whole body shaking like Shunka does in her joy, but a short but clearly visible movement of the tail. I was totally happy.
Last Sunday we dared it for the first time and left the enclosure with Wolfskin on the chain leash. It was awful. We've seen the full range of anxiety dog behavior. Throw on the ground, roll, bite the leash (happily it's a chain!), try to crawl somewhere. It's so bad when you see and understand what the poor guy went through to feel such panic. But at the same time you shouldn't feel sorry, but must radiate security and sovereignty in a calm and relaxed manner - and that's not easy when your heart is almost overflowing with pity! Every step was praised, in between caressed and rest. It wasn't easy to get Wolfskin back in the direction of the enclosure either, but he almost fled the last few meters - purely to safety. We still have to change the collar and leash a bit before we try again - the chain is just too heavy and unwieldy. Now we thought that he wouldn't want to have anything to do with us for the next few hours - far from it! From that moment on, Wolfskin became even more affectionate! He comes with me on the balcony comes very close to the couch and hardly takes her eyes off me.
We had yesterday too two wonderful experiences again: we had a visit from our tenant and Wolfskin didn't flee to his corner! After a few minutes he even graciously licked Marco's ice cream spoon! He's never gotten so close to strangers. So glorious!! And the second "sensation": For the very first time, Wolfskin has quietly eaten a pig's ear in the enclosure, without nervously looking around, with the front door closed. So far he has hardly accepted anything tasty outside because of his nervousness, at most some liverwurst. What goes fast and you are not distracted. But yesterday and today - he chewed his pig's ear in a relaxed manner, even with an undecided Josy at his side, who didn't really know whether to make do with the allotted pig's tail or rather to acquire Wolfskin pig's ear... Because that's not Problem - Wolfskin retreats immediately if someone goes for his food. But he got to keep it and enjoyed it!
A tiny little "incident" there has been, but given all the progress, I confidently dismiss it as irrelevant and, in view of hundreds of similar videos on the internet, as typical dog behavior. I had to strip my bed because someone (whose name is known) with very dirty paws used my bed as a trampoline. Apparently, the bare mattress turned out to be an excellent way to pass the time. Even if I didn't catch the culprit in the act, the guilty conscience in his eyes and various pieces of foam between his toes left no doubt that Wolfskin had been overcome by boredom. Heck, it was just the top foam layer of the mattress. So the thing turned around and the damage was fixed.
I've also noticed that Wolfskin always rummages through the dog blanket on my bed to lie down on my pillow. What's great to think about? I have more than one pillow in the house, so I gave mine to Wolfskin and he is now sleeping blissfully in his corner under my desk - on my pillow of course and, as always, close to all sorts of cables and wires. Splendid.