Thursday, December 10

Dakota Digs Deep

One of the nicest things about rescuing small dogs is that, if you have the foster families willing to try it, dogs who might otherwise be euthanized for behavior problems can get the attention and care and training they need to be retrained and eventually to be very carefully placed in qualified homes.

This is Dakota. He is such a hard case that he had his family afraid to go into the same room with him. He is so reactive to touch, being medicated, having to go to the vet--essentially, to any loss of control--that he was on the brink of taking the long sleep, though his family did not want that for him, and they tried trainers and behavior modification and heaven knows what all.

But a week before their baby was due, his family had to come to grips with the fact that they would have to use their kitchen more often, and Dakota would soon be relegated to an even smaller space where he got even less interaction.

The experienced and willing foster family who had made such progress with Pippin volunteered to take this dog. Everyone knew it would be a long term foster placement. The couple was aware of his problems and had a great system of backup and support from the same trainer that helped them with Pippin. In the months since Dakota made the move to their home, he has made progress in leaps and bounds. There is a long road ahead, but remarkably, Dakota has surprised many of us with both his ability and his willingness to change.

Here is the latest update from Dakota's foster family:
"There is not a whole lot of new news regarding Dakota; we are in the long haul stage of working with a dog that is trying very hard to relearn how to react. The best news is that although we still have moments in which his switch is flipped, he has not made any skin contact with biting us. When his triggers are being pushed, he still reacts, but the level of reaction and how quickly he returns to good Dakota is what has improved most. He hates to come out of his bed where he is snuggled in like a blanket wrapped burrito, does not like getting his twinkle toeses wet to go potty, and if you do ANYTHING resembling grooming or applying meds, the growly boy is back. He is welcoming attention, still shakes or trembles sometimes if he is unsure. He gallops and hops to us in play, sings along in a second to any howling session and mimics TJ perfectly.

We have now given him 2 baths (that's a 10 on the trigger scale) and finally tackled doing his nails (that's a 20 on the scale of 10). I taught him to put a cone on, photos to follow in next posting. The bottom photo is one of the techniques Kim explained to hold Dakota securely while working on his feet. He actually relaxes to a point, but he may never be able to have grooming done without restraint. At least he didn't have to go and be sedated again, we feel comfortable doing this work with him.

Dakota starting to feel at ease being held and touched, the one where I am holding him on my shoulder is a real milestone, he does not like to be off the ground or held in any way. He is ready for battle in case you decide to put meds on him.

This is TJ getting him relaxed before I apply his medicine for his itchies on his feet."

For want of experienced and willing foster homes, we shudder to think how many reclaimable dogs are euthanized each year. We are deeply grateful to the foster families who give so much of themselves to rescue dogs in need, one dog at a time.

What you see here and elsewhere in this blog is a spirit of love and giving that rescue families live out every day of every year, acting upon their values and quietly doing good works to the admiration and acclaim of

The Frog Princess


Anonymous said...

Bravo! And, God bless you!

Two French Bulldogs said...

AWESOME...we love those human peoples.
Benny & Lily

Anonymous said...

Dakota is in the surest, most capable hands imaginable. He came to the Portland Frenchie meetup for the holiday fundraiser and acted just like any old frenchie - galloping and zipping around. Steph and TJ were so relaxed (yet attentive) and it really was something to see. They are amazing.