Take the Challenge and Win
What's wrong with a timid dog?
They had held them tight to be able to even get a half decent picture. I couldn't believe that nobody wanted them. Yeah, they weren't full blooded Irish Wolfhounds, but I had dreamed about having Wulfies all my life! Considering that a pup can cost you several thousand dollars, why would nobody want them for the simple cost of a few bucks to get them fixed and vaccinated?!
"They are timid!" OK. SO WHAT? My self-confident dogs always test the waters and have cost me 3 harddrives, a few mice and keyboards, uncountable shoes and more. Not to talk about the jumping the fence thing to take a plunge into the pond in the summer.
My shy ones.... They want to please and be near me! They are sweat and loving and try extra hard to make me want to love them. So I do!
So why did nobody want 2 Irish Wolfhound looking dogs!? Because they are timid!? WOW!
The First 24 Hours
The night I brought them home they were still skittish and stressed out. It had rained like hell and I felt like I had been swimming home. But they needed to go outside and I wanted to calm things down a little. So we started walking around the yard, sinking in mud a little.
First they panicked a lot. Apparently somebody took two three year old dogs and left the whole leash thing totally out of the training schedule. Every time we walked pass the house, they bolted for the door! After the first three laps around 2.5 acres of fenced in yard my arms felt like rubber, my shoulder felt like having been dislocated and found (relocated) a few times, and my pants were covered in mud. BUT...
...we had reached an agreement and the 'Boys' were walking more or less calmly besides us. Lorcan (brindle) is a panic button and not fond of the leash. Rian (black) tends to go 90 miles an hour. But here these two athletes were walking calmly and gently besides us! It was so beautiful to see the first changes. And they had stopped panting that much; were actually calming down and relaxing.
They are creatures of habit and we used that.
Four times a day we would take them out of the crate, walk them outside, bring them in. The first times were ...drag out of crate, run to the door, panic... Then their beautiful inteligence kicked in and the hot dogs did their work! Four times a day I would see the first signs of wagging tails and even a welcoming bark... After only two days!
I had also made it a habit to repeadetly do things around the crate; always with small pieces of hot dog available. If they were coming towards me, I gave a piece of it. Curiosity is a great thing. Simple offers of trust, returned in kind, are a gift only those that have experienced it can understand.
The first 24 hours were spend in two ways:
- No expectations were set to allow them to relax and be themselves; get used to the new place, new noises, new smells.
- We established a routine kept like clock-work! Routine brings comfort and makes things less important! If you engage something you fear over and over again, it becomes a habit! And its 'horror' loses its power! Why fear it!? It was there before, and before, and before!
Another thing was 'Observation'! I quietly and without intruding or pushing observed what the issue was... So I can do what needs to be done and work on the 'big plan'!
Exercise and Relaxation
Cesar Millan always talks about exercise and being calm and assertive. Wolfhounds are bred to run for long distances! So what could be better than to work them out a little and provide the routine that would give them something to trust in?!
I love walking, but walking one or two 80lbs Wulfies can be a challenge. And my schedule is a bit different than my children's at times. But, it worked.
I would walk lap after lap around the yard, talking to the other dogs that were used to these walks, talking about bees and butterflies. No living creature will ever listen better than an animal! Or be more attentive!
The boys listened to me going on and on, saw the 'pack' walk calmy besides and behind me, experienced the bees and the butterflies, enjoyed the warm air on their back.
I have reason to believe that whoever had them, kept them in a crate all day and only let them out for 'business'. First the whole outdoor thing would scare the wits out of them. But eventually they actually started taking interest in what was around them. They smelled the things only dogs can find interesting to stick their noses in, marked their territory, walked around and checked things out.
And when we went back to the house, they became more reluctant to go back inside. They had enjoyed being outside!
Hard Work paying off
It is funny how people react when they hear you have Irish Wolfhounds. I had a few suddenly offer to foster... Where were you people when they were facing death!? They had been literally hours away from dying and nobody had cared because they weren't full blooded! And when I mentioned that they had some behavioral things that needed worked out... The offers seized...
It doesn't matter! They are here to stay! And no, there is no need to ask me again! Especially not since I spend that much time on their comfort and earning their trust! If they weren't worth your interest when they were still skittish, why now?
The first tail wag was a beautiful thing. Routine had taught them that I had my pockets full of goodies and to expect something good when I approached.
To see them acting like normal, happy dogs... Happy to see me! It's a beautiful thing!
We now go outside without a leash. We can work on that in smaller doses now. They listen more and more every day. And are more interested in playing outside more and more every day!
Lorcan discovered his running legs! Once last weekend he blew up in jumps and circles like a bucking bronco and raced back to his brother. Today he went bananas in circles around me, running towards me, mowing me over twice, chasing his tail!
It is a beautiful thing to see a once totally scared dog to enjoy life! They both actually raced across the yard once or twice; usually towards the door, but it is a start. They walk the perimeter of the yard with me, come to me, start playing here and there. And to watch such beautiful Hounds in their elegance and agility... It is such a beautiful thing to watch them enjoy life! If it wouldn't be for the lack of a charger right now, I'll be taking hundreds of pictures of their inner and outer beauty!
Tomorrow, if I feel any better than I did today, we will try the two new paths around my own, privat miniature forest. I wanted to create them for a year, but I figured that the 'Boys' and I would have much more success on a leash if we go off the track and away from cars and trucks a little. And my children are blown away from the beautiful dog walks and bike rides. My Oldest loves to jump the two little 'creeks' we have running in snake lines through the 'forest'. (Hope he stops crashing or I'll never get to see grandchildren!)
So why overlook the timid dog?
I don't get it. It didn't take but a short time to gain the love of two beautiful creatures. Why does everyone always go for the happy-go-lucky pup jumping up at the kennel gate; rather than the quiet one in the corner?
Yes, sometimes it may take longer to earn trust and the "Boys and I still have a long road ahead of us. They took their fist shots and even Bordetella up their nose with the gentleness these giants were born with. And the visit to the rabies clinic wasn't as bad as I thought; despite their determination to leave the car at any given opportunity. We will definitely have to work on that and the leash manners.
When I look at these two 'Boys' (They are still very much doing things together and we are working on separate personalities and them knowing their names.) and think about how close they came to dying, it makes me sick! How many dogs and cats have to die because they are timid or skittish!? Because they are not 'perfect'?!
What is 'perfect'? I always liked a challenge, but rather get challenged to earn one's trust than to get one to not test me all the time or eat my computer equipment!
Perfect is in the eye of the beholder... somebody said! I go for inner qualities; especially if I can make them come to the surface by proving myself worth their trust! It makes every tiny bit of success so much more important! Trust is earned!
So here I am... worthy their trust!
The 'Little Fierce One' - Lorcan
- Lorcan | meaning of Lorcan | name Lorcan
Lorcan \l(o)-rcan, lor-can\ as a boy's name is pronounced LOR-ken. It is of Irish and Gaelic origin, and the meaning of Lorcan is "little fierce one".
The 'King' - Rian
- Rian | meaning of Rian | name Rian
Rian \rian\ as a boy's name (also used as girl's name Rian), is a variant of Ryan (Gaelic), and the meaning of Rian is "king".
The Irish Wolfhound
- Irish Wolfhound - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Irish wolfhound (Irish: Cú Faoil, Irish pronunciation: [ˈkuː ˈfˠiːlʲ]) is a breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), specifically a sighthound. The name originates from its purpose (wolf hunting) rather than from its appearance.