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JAZZ: Continued Improvement

December 23rd, 2012

Jazz continues to improve and her social skills are becoming settled and dependable. Along with that security comes the inevitable push to see if there are rules that she can bend or break. This is good. It means she’s beginning to trust her world enough to engage in independence and use her new found trust to test some limits.

Both grandsons were over for the day on Monday and, at first, Jazz had a hard time of it. Two boys playing on the floor, HER floor area, made her a bit stressed and she fell back on some old, undesirable habits. I quickly put a stop to that and made her sit and watch. Within a short time she was evidencing self-control again and so was allowed up. She approached the boys and was curious as to their actions. This is the first time she has interacted of her own accord with the children. She was very curious about the toys and the boys’ activities. However, she stayed calm throughout the interaction.

When the boys began to chase each other she had a few moments of confusion and worry, but quickly placed herself out of the line of their speed laps and sat watching. She kept her stress low and curiosity high. The fact that she could self-manage is a big, big, big improvement in her skills.

She is also testing limits, a natural and inevitable evolution. It is one I’m happy to see. Another success is Jazz will self-correct when told to quit. Prior to this she would simply melt and return to spinning and hyper-activity actions.

She has begun to ‘shadow’ me and I won’t allow it. Part of improving Jazz is ensuring I not act as an enabler. This type of shadowing is not a healthy action, mentally or physically, in a dog’s development. The first couple of times she did it, I allowed it to happen so she could see where I was going and what I was doing. After that, I put a stop to it. She is becoming comfortable with the idea I can leave her sight and the world will not implode nor will she be abandoned.

We began a new cold spell in Montana and while I don’t think the house is cold at 69*, it may be nippy for her. She is a small dog and her body mass is not all that great. I will not, however, put a stupid sweater on her. There are a variety of reasons for this thinking on my part. Jazz must deal with the reality of some physical things and solve them for herself. It is necessary that she build some tolerance to the nippy air as she must go outside where it is frigid. I am not going to put her in a dog sweater simply to go outside and go to the bathroom. She is not out that long. Nor am going to do it for her to stay in the house. She has taken to sitting by the wood stove when chilled and that is absolutely fine. She is very content there with the cats. She also cuddles up to Niamh, a very kind and tolerant space heater of sorts. She is thinking of acceptable solutions to a small problem and her choices are good.

A friend came to visit this past weekend and Jazz had a few moments of barking and excitement, particularly as a new visiting dog was introduced into the group. Jazz settled quickly and well and only needed a couple of gentle, verbal reminders and she sat quietly and was nicely social in her interactions. I was very pleased.

I refuse, unequivocally, to allow anyone to baby talk Jazz, pity her, or make excuses for poor behavior. It is guaranteed to send her to hyper-space. She is fairly smart dog and she must be treated as such. To do less is both demeaning and damaging to her and I don’t want her improvement to be undone.

I refuse to allow her to NOT follow the rules. I may adjust them if she’s working on a new one, but that adjustment is only for the first couple of attempts. After that she must follow the rule(s). It’s not as if there were many of them. Some of the rules she mastered quickly and with no problems. One or two she continues to struggle with, but I see improvement as time progresses. I have every belief she will get them all down pat.

Several people who have been reading this continuing saga of Jazz, or have seen her in person, have voiced the hope that those who do dog foster and/or rescue in Great Falls will read these entries and learn something about how to correctly rehab a dog. They are referring to two specific individuals within the GF community that are “well known” and work with, or within, a couple of non-profit entities. My answer: they won’t.

These two people are long on rhetoric and short on dog knowledge and abilities. One hired me, long ago, to come work in-home with some dogs. The dogs were living in a neurotic, hyper, fearful state, but by GOD, they’d been rescued. Nothing was learned by the FP (foster person), nor implemented for the dogs’ improvement or well-being.

The other person? Well, the other person cannot (according to the client who payed this person for in-home help and didn’t get it—actually several clients have regaled me with stories about this person), differentiate between an aggressive dog and an aggressively behaving dog and worked from behind a baby gate. So frightened of the dog was this person that they never came into contact with it. How can one help a dog when one is frightened and cannot engage to correct bad behavior or correctly direct an owner in how to do it? Answer: You can’t. It’s as simple as that. This person cannot, despite the fact that they attended one of my Clinics, as well as gaining other “education”, A) understand what was taught, B) implement what is proven to be successful, C) know dogs.

The dog, and his behavior, is ALWAYS the determinant of if what you are doing is correct or not.

Actually it’s all of the above when it comes down to dog behavior. I’m so happy that Jazz has not had to come into contact with either of these people. She would continue living a life of misery, fear, and psychosis, in a shelter, foster, or adoptive situation. Kudos to the FP who actually wants Jazz to be a whole, healthy dog.

Doing the right thing is not always easy. But doing the right thing is ALWAYS right.
A Christmas gift for Jazz

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