Wolfskin's diary part 6
We've had some great successes again this week. On the whole, everyday life works quite well; Wolfskin stays wonderfully alone when we're at work. The only thing that really stands out is that he seems to have developed a soft spot for my pillow. I hide it under two blankets, but Wolfskin always manages to dig them out, drag them to the floor, and lie on them. Usually only the head, the body next to it. Clever little fellow - he actually knows why that thing is called a pillow...
On Wednesday morning I was totally surprised. As always, I go my rounds with Shunka first, then (sometimes before) Wolfskin comes down to the enclosure and does his business. First he went straight back upstairs to the apartment - now he stays downstairs more and more often, lets himself be pampered, brushed or just enjoys the morning sun and being outside... And the kiss with Shunka. What a nice picture! That always breaks my heart. Wolfskin has not yet responded to Shunka's requests to play - until Wednesday! I couldn't get out my cell phone so quickly to film everything... But I managed to do one bit. Shunka was just as surprised - and Wolfskin probably at himself too. I was so happy!
Yesterday, Friday, we went outside with him on a leash for the second time. We first had to wait for a new collar, because the previous one would have given him the opportunity to bite through it somehow. The risk was too great. New collar, chain leash, long drag line, waist belt - off we went. Wolfskin didn't hesitate for a second at the open enclosure. We had planned exactly where we were going and carefully removed all parked cars to prevent him from crawling under them. As planned, he ran straight to the small meadow by the house. A little tugging and throwing down, a little biting of the leash; then he slowly calmed down. Stay calm and assess the situation. He then ran across the meadow a few more times, not nearly as panicked as the first time, but still a long way from being relaxed or even happy. But it will definitely get better every time. He will learn that the leash is not a bad thing and that he can have a lot more freedom with it on his body. When we steered him in the direction of the enclosure, he disappeared in no time and took his place in front of the closed front door. Please let me up into my cave!! We then took off his band and leash and stayed with him in the enclosure for a while before we went back to the apartment. Once at the top, Wolfskin was completely his old self again - in his favorite corner under my table, but also often near us and always ready for a treat. It will!
An exciting week is coming to an end! I see progress almost every day; I'm happy about every step that Wolfskin takes towards me.
Finally, last weekend, the huge field directly above our paddock, which in turn is directly connected to our house, was mowed. The way is clear! On Sunday we went with Wolfskin (may I keep calling him Skina??? Is less to write...) on the long tow line to the field.
For the very first time, Skina stood calmly in the middle of the enclosure while pulling on the leash. The emphasis is on STANDING, because otherwise he would have sat or even laid down in a corner. Enclosure - and nothing happened. We had to persuade him to come outside with us. It started with the usual tug-of-war and lying down, but then he calmed down and ran a few steps, but Skina kept biting the leash (chain leash) - no chance, my dear, that it lasts! But he never went the full length of the leash, and from one second to the next... Micha whispered, totally surprised: That doesn't exist, look at that!!! ... Skina snuggled up against my legs and walked next to me. He almost crawled into me! My first thought: He trusts me! The whole thing with the leash is still uncomfortable, strange and unsettling for him - and he comes to me and seeks protection! I could not believe it. From that moment on, he only moved a few meters away from me, and immediately came back, circling me. The knot had broken. Clearly. I cried out from sheer emotion and joy, and so we both squatted in front of each other on the huge field; I couldn't help but pet and cuddle Skina and press my tear-stained cheeks onto his soft head. And he let everything happen. We then turned around and went back to the house, of course not civilized and joyful like a "normal" dog, always with many pauses and circles, but by no means panic anymore.
We did the same again on Wednesday. Micha was there with the camera to be able to evaluate the whole thing afterwards. And it worked even better! This is only the fifth time we have been on a leash with Skina outside the enclosure, and I would never have expected him to be so good with the leash. Only 2 weeks ago he disappeared into the most remote corner at the sight of her! He's still biting into the chain, occasionally throwing a tug of war with me, circling me like a herding dog around his herd. But it gets better every time. He no longer throws himself on the ground, no longer trembles, no more wide-eyed with shock. Every now and then you can even recognize a slight joy in his movement. Of course he doesn't like the chain on his neck, but he's no longer scared to death. He still doesn't really know what all this is good for and how going for a walk works. But it will. He learns so fast. And the most important and most beautiful thing: He has learned to trust me.
Wolfskin has been with us for 13 weeks now.
I could cry. Crying with happiness. Wolfskin is making strides beyond my wildest dreams. Every day now we are on a leash out in the field. And every day it works better. I've found that Wolfskin walks better next to me when he has a certain boundary from the left and right on a path (our driveway in the video). He's slowly moving more confidently, even if he's still fully focused on me. He trusts me and that's such a nice feeling!
On Friday we walked a piece of the road for the first time, over our bridge in front of the house to another meadow. My darling mastered that as well! Until recently Wolfskin did not accept any treats on the leash, he was much too excited and nervous to notice any external stimuli. This has also gotten better - the liverwurst from the tube now also tastes good on a leash :-)
And I dared something else. Go into our garden with Wolfskin. We have a beautiful large garden around the house, bordered by a 1 meter wooden fence. I have never been inside with him before because I was always afraid that he would get tangled with the long leash on the table and chairs and other obstacles or even crawl under it. I just did it, and: NIX. No problem! Wolfskin stayed by my side so well and didn't even try to bite the leash or hide under a bench! He sat quietly next to me. He hasn't noticed much of his surroundings yet because he's always fully focused on me. But at least!
We've been thinking for a long time how best to lure Wolfskin into the car so that we can take him to all the beautiful places that Shunka has long taken to his heart. There are only 2 alternatives: Either at least 1 kilometer along the road (where really big agricultural vehicles thunder along from time to time) or drive him by car. Then the absolute highlight on Saturday: We put Shunka in the car in her box, opened the large sliding door and went to the car with Wolfskin. Either he would panic under the car for cover or...... OR! Yes! He just jumped in, immediately lay down in the empty box and waited for things to come. He looked anxious - he didn't know what to expect. The last time he was in this car was 33 hours on the road, being dragged in against his will with great difficulty. It was all the more amazing for me that he went in straight away. He looked at me anxiously and of course I rode with him in the back of the hold. Then he calmed down too. After a 3-minute drive we were already at our destination: a beautiful, quiet forest path. Without hesitation he jumped out of the car and we went for a really nice walk... It was a dream. He's not totally relaxed yet and he's still bouncing around me but every now and then he sniffed at the edge of the forest. We often stop and I pet and praise him. It really looks like he's waiting for those little breaks. After the walk, Wolfskin jumped back into his box as if he had never done anything else. It was so gorgeous!!! Of course it's all exhausting, and after a pig's ear as a reward, it's time to rest, preferably on mom's bed with her T-shirt... or wherever you can find a place. And if it's next to the toilet :-)
We haven't reached our goal yet and my boy still has a lot to learn. But the hardest part is behind us. Now your life really begins, Wolfskin!
Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
Exactly 4 weeks ago today we dared to leave the enclosure with Wolfskin on a leash for the very first time. And it was a nightmare for me! He unleashed the full spectrum of a model scaredy dog: biting the leash, throwing himself on the ground, rolling, trying to hide, lying apathetic with panic. I cried that afternoon because I couldn't imagine how we could ever do it... Today I cry tears of happiness almost every day because I'm so touched and proud of my boy.
Since Wolfskin has been with us, I have had one big wish: that he can one day go with us to all the beautiful places that Shunka and Josy have known and loved for a long time. Whenever we have been in our favorite bay "Kolmanneset" in the last few weeks were at the fjord, I said: Oh, if only Skina could be here too! It happened a lot faster than I could have ever dreamed: We were at the fjord with Wolfskin! Finally! Everything seemed very mysterious to him, I think he had never seen such a big "water bowl" before. And salty too... He walked around a bit with his feet in the water, very skeptical and trying to process the many new impressions. But it was so nice to see him there in this beautiful landscape! Now that Wolfskin jumps into the car (and out again) as a matter of course, there are hardly any limits to our excursion options.
The day before yesterday we had another huge surprise. Sohnemann has visitors from Germany, his best friend and his girlfriend are here, and on Thursday evening they stayed with us for an hour. They asked about Wolfskin, and I said that they would probably not see him, since he retreats to his corner as soon as he hears strange voices or if strangers are still around. Totally wrong thought! 10 minutes later my wonder boy was standing in the living room door, slowly approaching and benevolently accepting treats! Even stroking was allowed! From two total strangers he's never met! I thought I see not really... honey... always good for a surprise. I took it out with me at the barbecue last night; after all, there were 7 strangers on site who all talked and laughed together. Although Wolfskin kept his distance, he didn't panic or show any signs of running away. He sat down next to me and watched the whole fuss for a while. I'm about to burst with joy! Now it almost always comes with me in every room I stay in for a long time - preferably in the kitchen. Of course. There's a good chance that something will fall out of mom's hand every now and then.. ;-)
I think Wolfskin is slowly beginning not only to accept his new life, but also to consider it "quite okay".