Thank you for the follow up message. I had planned to call again this coming week with another update, but e-mail is even better because I work overnights and I don’t always remember to call during business hours.
Reba is now known as Artemis. She is fitting in well in our household; with Kyle and I, with Kyle’s dog Kane and with our cats, birds and reptiles.
Although her progress is slow, we can tell that she is moving forward with a lot of different issues… some we expected and others we had no way to anticipate. Her triggers are many and we have not yet observed any pattern in them. Anything we do can cause her to “hit the deck,” void a few drops of urine, shake and cower the next time we do it. The way she closes her eyes so tightly and the way she crawls along the corner of the wall and floor is discouraging because we know we have accidentally frightened her. At the same time we know we cannot let our fear of doing the “wrong” thing stop us from engaging her. When she does cower, we encourage her to get up and reward her when she does. We realize that it will take time and trust (in us) for her to overcome this, and are fully aware that there is a possibility that this reaction will never fully go away. If it ends up being a permanent part of who she is, we will adapt to her by setting up more ways for her to succeed.
Her path to success began with minimal feeding/bathroom routines while giving her choices in between. For the most part, she chooses my bedroom on the second floor as if to “hide” as far away from the rest of us as she can. She has to be coaxed down from the bed with food, and sometimes she needs to be leashed in order to get her to come downstairs. We want her to get used to the idea of having privacy in the first floor bathroom in order to eat. Once she finishes her food she is taken outside and walked to stimulate a void, for which she is immediately rewarded with a treat and the ability to return to the house.
Again, there are her “triggers.” She will have a string of good days, then suddenly she will have a bad day in which everything that previously worked seems ineffective. Then the next day, we can be back to where we were as if the bad day never happened.
One of the strangest things I have observed is at night, when I am jolted out of a sound sleep by her erupting out of the bed and flying out into the hallway as if being chased. She usually stops before she gets to the stairs, looks around and then walks tentatively back into the bedroom and cautiously hops back up on the bed.
One of the biggest factors in her success appears to be Kyle’s dog, Kane. When we let Kane come up to the first floor, Artemis gets to choose if she wants to stay in bed, to watch from the top of the stairs or to come downstairs to join the group and participate. Every day she is choosing more participation. Although it is hard to tell from day to day, the physical difference over two weeks is noticeable. She actually physically looks like she is opening up. She holds herself differently, and wags her tail more. When Kane is around, she stands taller and more confident. She allows herself to be more curious, following him and investigating the things he looks at after he is done checking them out. Kane is a “busy” dog, and will often look at the same things multiple times so this is great for her. The two dogs sniff each other but don’t make a big deal of each other and we watch them closely so she doesn’t feel like he is invading her space.
Going back to her feeding routine: It took a couple of days but we were able to get her to eat consistently. During that time I mixed a little canned pumpkin with each serving so she didn’t bind up. Getting her to drink is a whole other story. I understand that dogs will sometimes reject the water in a new home when they move from one area to another. After two weeks, she is still reluctant to drink. Last week I boiled down a frozen turkey carcass that someone gave me to make a bone broth. I pour a little in a bowl and fill it the rest of the way with water. The diluted liquid seems to do the trick because she drinks it and my goal is to add more and more water until she is used to the taste of our water. I am not sure if another issue with the water is that it is not “moving.” I knew people with dogs that will only drink running water but I am going to try the bone broth transition first and if that doesn’t work we can look at other options, like trying a fountain.
That is all I can think of. A lot has happened in the first two weeks, and we anticipate that a lot more will happen as time goes on. We are enjoying that time (despite the challenges) and appreciate the care with which HSBC handled the process of matching Artemis with us.