Minnie Update

p72300051Tonight will mark the end of the first week Minnie has been a member of our pack. A stable pack of dogs is an incredibly powerful force in dog rehabilitation and she has fit in seamlessly. Of no surprise to us was the fact that Gunner, our German Shepherd, was the one she gravitated to, following him around and mimicking his actions as she absorbs the pack rules. Even though he’s the youngest, Gunner is our version of a Wal-Mart door greeter, but without the blue vest.

What Minnie presently lacks in obedience training she more than makes up for in social skills. She is extremely quick to learn, intelligent, and curious in all the best ways. In the presence of clear leadership, she has proven to be courageous beyond her size. Her new regimen of healthy diet and exercise has been a good fit for her, but that much excess weight can’t be burned away overnight – something else humans need to learn from dogs.

In our work with dogs, particularly new ones that are being evaluated and rehabilitated, we regularly use controlled exposure to p7230007normal daily life situations as well as some unusual ones. On the right is Minnie meeting a horse which she saw at a distance and scrambled eagerly toward. They sniffed each other calmly and at no time did either of them react with anything more than calm curiosity. Eventually the horse had sniffed in all the air it could hold and released its pent up breath with a snort that nearly blew Minnie over backwards. She didn’t like that at all, but recovered from the surprise in a few seconds, approached the horse again, finally sitting down to admire it.

She also met a cat that she initially showed the same amount of interest in until it hissed at her after which she ignored it. She showed neither a desire to give chase nor to withdraw.

p7230015Last Friday she had her first visit to our veterinarian, Dr. Barry Falkenham of Seaside Animal Hospital in Lunenburg. We further trimmed her nails to the point where they are now almost the proper length, had her blood tested for heart worm and Lyme disease, and had her inoculated against all the normal threats as well as Lyme disease, something we consider absolutely essential.

Minnie’s blood work showed no infections of any kind, she accepted the blood being drawn and the shots being administered without complaint, and even took having her nails cut in stride. She had never met Barry before but drew her cues from us and, while she clearly would rather have been somewhere else, didn’t show a shred of defensiveness nor did she attempt to flee. Other than me, Barry was the first man to have physically handled Minnie since she came to us. While she was reputed to have a dislike for men, she has not shown this behaviour here. She accepts food from my hand, doesn’t flee at my approach, follows me well on walks, and often seeks me out in the house, staying with me as I go about my business. She shows no particular preference for Diana or me and happily accepts affection from both of us. Lest this be misconstrued as a statement of my exceptional nature, that isn’t what’s happening here. Minnie is reacting to me as one of her Pack Leaders; the fact that I happen to be male has no relevance to her.

p7260029On Sunday Minnie had her first chance to “run with the wolves” in the many acres of pine woods and streams we are fortunate to call our back yard. All the dogs travel on lead as a safety precaution, a subject we’ll deal with in more detail in another post yet to come.

On the right is Minnie surveying the view from the bank of the stream that flows about a half hour walk from our house. The trip took a bit longer than usual as it was necessary to follow a route best suited to be traversed by an overweight, under exercised Min Pin. Even so, she exhibited no signs of distress, and willingly accepted being carried through areas of unusually thick brush.

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She wasn’t on the trail long before we discovered one of her other talents: snapping mosquitoes and deer flies out of the air with an accuracy that is amazing to behold. We’re not sure what percentage of her body weight she ate in flies that day, but it must have been substantial and she clearly enjoyed it.

On the left is Gunner with Minnie who is in the process of chewing up yet another insect that was pestering her guardian.

More to come as Minnie progresses. We’ll wrap up this post with a short video Diana shot of Minnie enjoying Nature’s culinary delights.

 

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