Monday, April 9, 2012

Coco’s Black Box

We can only guess at what will make Coco into a healthy, happy dog. All we know about her was told to us by the rescuers from whom she came.  (Ruff House in Long Island) I wish she came with a "Black Box" so we could look at her past and know how best to help her. We know that she was a breeder dog, but the rescuers said she was from “a good place, not a puppy mill.” And “Puppy Mill Breeder Dogs are not adoptable for at least a year after they’ve been rescued.”  It makes me wonder what they do to those dogs, because Coco has some behaviors I can only describe as crazy. 

Like: she circles. Not like a dog trampling down grass to make a comfortable bed (although she does do that, too.) No, she paces and circles when she’s not in a crate or being held by Libby or Morin. She jogs back and forth like she’s looking for something, and she skitters away from anyone trying to catch her. Have a look:

Then, there is her potty ritual. I’m guessing that she used to relieve herself in her cage, because first of all, she WILL go in her crate if we aren’t around. Crate training relies on the notion that dogs won’t go in the place where they have to eat and sleep. Does this mean poor Coco had no choice but to do this? 

Here’s the disturbing morning ritual that I witnessed yesterday and the day before: I took her out of the crate and brought her outside, placing her on our grassy area. (It’s not actually a lawn. We’re working on that, too.) After pacing and circling and pacing some more she seemed to get the right scent and began to whirl around in a very tight circle, faster and faster until at last she could crouch and do the deed. Then the agitation doesn’t stop there: she kicked around the evidence. Does this mean she had to clean her own cage back at the “better that a puppy mill”? And can we possibly hope that she’ll become comfortable in our yard where nothing is threatening her?

We had a little set back yesterday morning: I brought her outside first thing and she paced and twirled for the better part of an hour before she even piddled. Eventually the family’s attention went to morning showers and getting dressed. We thought we’d closed her in her crate but somehow the door was left unlatched (or Coco is keeping her safe crackin’ skillz under wraps) and we ended up with an “accident” on the upstairs rug. This wasn’t an accident: Coco had every chance to do this in the great outdoors. OK, Great Dog Whisperers of the Web--how do we deal with this?

No comments: