“The Most Important Moment In Rehabilitation”

Note: This is why I’ve been so quiet this week, my friends – I owe everybody long messages. Sorry!

I teach people not to see a bad moment as a failure. A bad moment is actually a time for you to rehabilitate yourself, and you rehabilitate your dog, so it’s actually the most important moment in rehabilitation when the dog misbehaves.   – Cesar Milan

I’m watching episodes of Dog Whisperer off the DVR to get new inspiration, insights, and encouragement, in my work with Kodi. This quote struck me. If it’s the most important moment, we’ve had a lot of them this week! Rhiannon has been gone for 8 days, since she went to go camping last weekend and has been staying with friends since. She comes back today. It’s not a moment too soon – it’s been a long 8 days.

It’s been raining. Every single day.Sometimes pouring, sometimes dribbling, but always… raining.

Kodi hates to go potty in the rain. And we’re still working on that house-training – if the backyard is dry, he’ll mostly go out the dog door and go there. But if it’s not, he’d just as soon go in the basement, where a legion of dogs have gone before him for one reason or the other.

It’s been 8 long days of constant downpours, constantly being wet from taking him out back or out front on leash, mud (and other less savory things) stuck between my toes (why wear shoes when you’ll just have to wash them? Easier to go barefoot and stick my feet in the tub when I come back in).  Dog prints all over the floor, though those lessened when we gave up on going out into the mud pit (the dog yard) and started going out front.

It’s a little easier to understand, now that we know his background, as to why house-training is such a hurdle – he was locked up on a porch the first year of his life, so presumably got used to going there as he had no other option, and has had only a couple weeks with limited inside time before he made his way to the shelter. He’s never had to learn that outside is the place you go, whether it’s raining, snowing, or whatever. And he doesn’t like muddy feet, but time to be a dog and stop being so prissy footed – we live in a forest!

And the playing… I have thrown his toys down the stairs for him to retrieve over and over, every day, several times a day. Played tug of war endlessly. Given doggie-massages & brushed and brushed. “Claimed” Kasha several times daily as she nursed an injured wrist from a canine collision – she didn’t feel like playing, to which Kodi reacts with constant barking at her.

Did I mention it’s been a long 8 days?

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention what else rain brings to my life…

Migraines. Every day. Sometimes bad ones, sometimes not quite as bad, but is there any such thing as a good migraine?

Here are a few choice quotes from messages I’ve sent Rhiannon this week – someday, I’ll look back on this post, and laugh:

“He woke up with me at noon totally full of shit. There was biting which he thinks is wrestling but didn’t feel too good, then fed him, then he stole a little scrap of sheepskin out of my room and we played keep away for a long while. Finally extracted it. Got his toy & threw that a couple times. He lost his grip on it & lunged for it & about broke my wrist in his zeal to get it back. I was not amused. He seemed subdued or apologetic for making that sound come out of me – the hurtmommy sound.”

“…he snatched a book off the dining table down there & tore back up the stairs with it. A long, long game of keep away later, I retrieved the soggy, filthy book from him & deposited it in the trash.”

“Yes, there are times when even I wonder if I love the boy, but the fact is I do, and I’ve been thru very similar things with pups before. Wolf-dog pups are the absolute worst pups on the planet – there was a time when every book I owned & every piece of furniture had teeth marks on it. At the rate we’re going here, it won’t be long before I’m back to that place! He’s just really hard to discipline – he’s eating a basket at the moment. He thinks I don’t know & he stops every time I look at him. But mama hears all. That’s what I get for having a basket on the floor of my room.”

“It is like living with a piranha! or a shark! or a crazed beast! He has to go pee at 4:30am. Okay, sure, I don’t care that’s its raining Kodi. Outside we go. Then he comes back in full of shit. I’m trying to get under the covers while he’s biting my arms & then he takes a chunk out of my shoulder blade!
He jjust finished vigorously digging a hole in my bed beside me! Twice! Raking up the covers & making a nest to sleep in!
This dog is nuts & my back hurts! He snagged all the skin over my shoulder blade in his teeth.
Gggrrrrrrrrrr!
(done venting)”

“I am watching dog whisperer for inspiration. I have decided already that I talk to him too much. But cesar’s tsst & touch doesn’t do jack shit on him – in fact it makes matters worse, as he gets the snarly face that says don’t mess with me. He also gets ramped up when you point a finger at him. I’ve been seeing a lot less of the snarly face, mostly when he’s barking at Kasha & I’m blocking him & claiming her.”

“He jumped up on the futon & I had to drag him off, but instead of going for the collar first I instead touched him real gentle & gave doggie massages. He barely bit me at all, very lightly putting up a protest.
“He barely bit me at all…” That’s a great statement about doggie-rehab, isn’t it? Well, I guess we’ve actually come a long way, it just seems like there’s a long way to go. I’m covered in bruises, btw. I keep trying to wash them off my legs but they won’t come off.”

So, we are making progress. It’s just slow, and I’m trying multiple approaches to getting this boy straightened out. I think the biggest issue we really have now is the biting-which-he-thinks-is-wrestling. I’ve gotten the aggressive-crazy-eyed-dog-biting down to near zero and can actually lead him with my hand on his collar.

But he wakes up raring to go, while I’m not so raring to go. He grabs my arm or wrist or whatever body part is handy as a way to ask for playtime, and while he is play-biting less hard, it would be really nice if he’d stop doing that altogether. Usually I respond with a chest scratch and that will settle him down, but not always.

He needs more exercise. Needs to be worn out – so tired he doesn’t want or need to play-bite me.

We need a treadmill. Seriously. Wonder if there are any used ones we could afford on our budget of zero dollars?

Did we bite off more than we can chew with Kodi? No.

Did we get more than we expected? Yes. Most definitely.

Will we get it sorted out eventually? Yes.

I do think he’s finally learning what the word “No!” means.

Now that’s progress!

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