Monday, May 5

Duke News

Duke and Puddy were surrendered together last month and the owners were hoping they could be placed together. After a shocking attack on Duke by a group of ordinarily goofy lug-dogs, Duke was moved to another foster home to recuperate in a calmer environment, away from Puddy and the others in the foster family.

Duke is an odd dog among the usually buoyant and happy frogs of our acquaintance. He seems to expect to always be the low dog on the roster, and he generally gets that spot. In a recent seminar on dog behavior, we learned that the omega dog, the lowest dog in the pack, serves an interesting function--a necessary function for the health of the pack. He can be a scapegoat, absorbing the pack's tension and serving as a kind of whipping boy; he can be a clown, for example, distracting two dogs who are preparing to engage in a serious fight; and he is expendable in times of famine or attack. Duke appears to have internalized this low position, to the point that he has no self-confidence and will not defend himself. In his new foster home, his mom is working to raise his confidence to a more normal level. Here is her most recent report on Duke:

"I finally have a few minutes to tell you all about Duke and what he is working on. Duke is afraid of most everything. He is afraid of new people. He is afraid of new dogs, he is afraid of loud noises and of raised hands. He hangs in the background of everything that happens, good or bad.

"Some of this could be post-traumatic stress issues from the dog attack, but I think much of it is deeper seated than that. When he was fostered in his previous foster home, he never solicited attention and was a bit uncomfortable receiving it. He was the same when he first came to the Ranch. I am slowly (and not so slowly) de-sensitizing him. Murpheee and Lillie and even Rosebud are an incredible help, too.

"Today, Duke and I spent several hours gardening. He went from sitting out in the middle of the lawn with his head held in the most weary manner that I have ever seen. He is just sure that something scary is about to happen. In an hour's time, Duke was by my side sniffing as I gardened. My goal is to make Duke healthily curious, as dogs should be. So I began to trim the lavender. "
As I did, I handed a sprig to Duke to smell. I repeated this several times. He loved this, so we moved on to other plants. Each time I trimmed a plant, I handed him a sprig to smell. New things are good! He still has frequent moments of insecurity, but tonight he is thinking of moving into my lap as I type this. He moved into the kitchen to take a drink by himself. (Usually, he waits for Murpheee to go have a drink and then goes with him.)

"This morning, I fed him by hand with Lillie being fed by hand sitting next to him. That began as uncomfortable for him, but ended well. He played gently with Rosebud today, but then she began to play more forcefully and scared him to death, so back to lying on the lawn with head hung in anticipation of something bad. Trust me. You have to be a pretty frightened boy to be scared of wee Rosey."

We are so lucky to have wonderful foster homes who can give our physically and emotionally needy Frenchies the time and attention they need to find their forever homes!

The Frog Princess

1 comment:

RHz said...

Keep your head up, sweet Duke. If I had room for your, I'd take you in within seconds!