Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dealing with the Dearborn dogs

Try to put yourself in the shoes (paws) of one the dogs born and raised in the hoarder’s Dearborn home.
What would life be?
You’re entire world, instead of being this large round Earth, would be just a little house. There’s a chance you never went outside of it. Perhaps you never even looked outside of it.
Inside your world were hundreds of your own kind. You enjoyed all the company, but not at feeding time. You had to compete with hundreds of other mouths to get the nutrition you needed to survive.
All of your doggie relatives had left their scent all over the place, pooping and peeing on top of older feces. You had no choice to do the same, and in time, you came to believe that it was proper conduct. In fact, the excrement became such a part of your habitat that it was inescapable.
Everywhere you went, there was doo-doo. And so, you had no choice but walk in, sit on and even lay down and sleep on the doo-doo. Again, it was acceptable and proper conduct in your small world.
I’ve heard these dogs should be available for adoption starting on Monday, and that their health varies from one dog to another.
Since they’ve been removed from their world, they’re probably pretty scared.
If you thought the entire world was a small home populated by hundreds of your own kind and suddenly, you get taken out of that world and exposed to things you had never seen or knew existed before, wouldn’t you be scared?
Fear is one issue these dogs are likely to deal with. The degree of fear — whether it can be overcome easily or whether it’s deeply ingrained and produces other issues, like aggression — will vary from one dog to the next.
Age, amount of handling, exposure to the outside world and the dog’s individual personality will affect how much or how little each dog is fearful. The same factors will also affect how easily the dog learns to “bounce back,” or accept new things.
Food aggression is another likely issue. I don’t know the specifics of the situation and I’m not saying that these dogs were malnourished, I’m just stating what seems obvious to me. Hundreds of dogs were roaming freely about a house. At feeding time, there had to have been competition. Dogs would’ve learned to be aggressive and protective of the tasty little morsels they managed to snag.
Potty training will be a big deal. Again, these dogs have lived in a world where it was not just acceptable but necessary for them to go to the bathroom inside a house, then walk on it, sit in it and even sleep on it.
They have no clue that most dogs go to the bathroom outside — they didn’t even know what outside was until just recently — and that most dogs avoid even stepping in their own doo-doo, nonetheless sleeping on it.
I’ll try to go through some basic ways of rehabilitating these issues in the next few days. Because Sensi is a fearful dog and it’s something I have a lot of experience with, I run the risk of over-doing it on the fear topic.
I’ll try to keep it simple, and perhaps I’ll start with rehabbing food aggression and potty training and leave the fearful stuff for last.

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