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Tinsel's Journey

Discussion in 'Rescue Stories' started by Tagg, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. Tagg

    Tagg Forums Enthusiast

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    Tinsel is a 2-4 year old blue merle sheltie male that was seized in the puppymill bust back in September. The good people of Sheltie Ontario Rescue brought him to us on Dec. 5. When he arrived he was pretty stinky, had sores healing on his body, looked like he was permanently in the pose to defecate and was really weak in the stifle, especially on the right side. He cannot completely close his mouth but we don't know why as his dentition - other than a few broken teeth - is nearly scissors. He suffered intermittant lameness, sometimes slight but a couple of times quite bad. He had been neutered a couple of days previously so the testosterone was still pretty high which made him want to mark. His toes are slightly deformed from long nails and probably wire floors. His coat from his loin to his knees had been hacked off - probably due to matting and feces and urine. He has a slight roar when he breathes - ammonia is a silent killer in these places. The first time he was put down on the floor he froze in fear. I wanted to go and hug him but I knew he wasn't ready so I turned my body sideways to him, softened my shoulders like I was appoaching a nervous horse and spoke softly to him. His eyes had no spark. I wanted to cry for him. The sheltie rescue coordinator told me not to place him in an ex pen as he would just mark - his previous life dictated it. Knowing she had a lot of experience I sadly brought out a large crate, bedded it well and let him go into his safe zone. Yes, the crate was all he knew and so while it was his prison it was also his safe zone. With the door taken off the crate he laid and occasionally watched what we were doing but mostly lay there disinterested in the goings on of our kitchen. I put a large dog bed about 6 feet from the crate and sat on it reading to him. Trust is what he needed to learn at this point and so we worked on letting him see that we were not about to push our attention on him. That night, after we got back from making funeral arrangements for my mother who died 6 hours after Tinsel came, he ate 1/4 cup of food - not enough for a sheltie but the first he had eaten since his long trip for freedom when the good people of rescue started the journey down from Quebec the day before. He didn't know what to expect but he was willing to try. That's all we needed for day 1.
     
  2. Will

    Will Forums Enthusiast

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    God bless you - BIG TIME. Will
     
  3. OntarioSheltie

    OntarioSheltie Forums Celebrity

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    Poor Tinsel, I can't imagine what he's been through in his short life. Thank you for working with him and giving him a forever home.

    Looking forward to further updates and some photos. :smile2:
     
  4. Danny's mommy

    Danny's mommy Forums Enthusiast

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    I reiterate what Will said - God Bless You. Tinsel has found his heaven in earth with angels to care for him. Look forward to your posts on Tinsel's journey in learning to become what he was meant to be. Thank God we have rescue groups that get these dogs in need.
     
  5. sheltiemom4

    sheltiemom4 Forums Enthusiast

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    Mar 22, 2011
    Middletown, OH
    Welcome Home Tinsel!!!!!
     
  6. Chris

    Chris Premium Member

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    Tinsel will recapture his sparkle under your loving care.
     
  7. Tagg

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    Brantford, On
    Day 2 was a little better. He didn't want to come out of his crate voluntarily though and this continues even today. We are working on it but it is a slow process. I wonder what they did that convinced him never to leave the crate. With clicker and treats and rewarding him even looking at me it took quite a while to get him to come out. After he is carried to the puppy play yard I have to go and get him to carry him in. He has a definate aversion to going through doorways. When I brought him back in and put him down in the kitchen I fully expected him to run back into his crate and the whole process would begin again but no, he saw the dog bed I had been on the night before and headed for it. Yes! Treat. I got his breakfast ready and he devoured it pacing anxiously back and forth between mouthfuls. I hadn't introduced the girls to him yet so I brought Phoebe, our 10 year old westie and the head honcho into the kitchen. Right away he goes into studly doright mode and lifts his leg. A soft uh uh stops him in his tracks and he ran for his bed. I took him back outside and he peed some more and also defecated. Yes. Treat.
    Phoebe was put back over the gate and I decided that we better give him some time to lose some of the testosterone before having them meet in the kitchen again. I went and sat beside the bed and we read some more. If he looked at me I clicked and treated. After a couple of hours of this he started to nose at my hand while I read. Yes, click, treat. Now I could approach him so I slowly brought my food hand out and tickled him under his chin. He pulled back so I dropped my hand, laid it flat on the bed beside him and waited. Sure enough, his belly was stronger than his head so he nosed my hand again. Click, treat. The biggest issue was that he couldn't hold a treat in his mouth. He had to drop it first and then pick it up so I wondered if the lesson was getting through. I tried all kinds of stuff but same thing. I talked to the rescue coordinater and she suggested chicken weiners cut small. It worked! Over the next week my goal was only to prevent him from marking or defecating and to get him to allow me to touch him but only from a sitting position. A rescue from Illinois I think suggested building trust points for at least the first 4 days or longer if necessary. That's what we did. He was rewarded when he let me touch him, when he looked at me, when he took a step off the bed and all touch for the first few days was with us on the floor.
     
  8. Lahree

    Lahree Forums Enthusiast

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    Your posts made me cry. What an awful life that poor dog had.

    God bless you for taking in this dog and working with him! I wish every single day I could do that. Maybe when I retire.
     
  9. Tagg

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    Tinsel and my husband ended up with a set back on day 3. I was crawling around on the floor - not a great thing for this old lady - but keeping myself unimposing and he was starting to come over to sniff me. Then he decided to lift his leg and mark me! Hubby's immediate reaction was to yell NOOOO. Tinsel ran back to his bed, I took him out and he finished his pee. Now he was a little nervous with hubby so hubby took to reading to him and tickling him and treating him without making eye contact and his Tin Man has almost gotten over the indignity. Maybe I should have been flattered.
    He was now letting me stroke his body and chest, his head and chin but not his back legs or his ears. Interestingly he didn't object to being carried around but don't touch his back end or he would scoot away.
    Day 4 and 5 I continued with the stroking lessons but longed to get a brushing lesson started. He smelled so bad but couldn't be bathed for another week due to his neuter surgery. My hands were getting raw from washing them continuously and I probably will come down with some strange disease from the kissing he started to let me give him to the top of his smelly little head. His first kiss he bestowed on hubby. Smart little sheltie! My sister and her husband came by to meet him and my brother - in law immediately sat on the floor and started reading the book we left on the counter above the dog bed. Interestingly it was a copy of Reaching the Animal Mind. Tinsel allowed Paul to stroke him.
    Not a lot was accomplished that evening as we had family coming from out of town for the funeral. The next day was more of the same. Every time I had to put him in the crate I cringed inside. My dogs are NEVER crated when I go out but I had to use my head instead of my heart. He didn't seem to care as it is what he knew but I knew that it was not what I wanted for him. He did do something that made us know that we might just have to keep him. He put his head in my lap while I sat beside him.
     
  10. Tagg

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    On Saturday, Day 7 my daughter came up for a visit. She is owned by two lovely shelties and is really well versed in operant conditioning. She started to teach him to target on her hand. This works well to introduce common things that he might not want to venture near. For example, I went to put Rhiannon's lighted collar on her tonight and he was afraid of the blinking lights. I turned off the lights and we did target work on the collar and then after several "touch" and rewards of just my saying Yes! with enthusiasm, he was then able to "touch" the lit up collar without fear. This is a daily thing now. I try to introduce him to several objects that are foreign to him. I showed him the brush on Day 8 and he bounced away but then after several "touch" commands he allowed me to softly start to brush him. No layer brushing yet but careful, soft strokes trying not to hit the snags in him. Tinsel isn't really noise sensitive but can be reactive to movement. Slow movement scares him as much as fast so we tried to just move normally around him as if he were any other dog. If he jumps back we ignore it but if he comes up behind us we praise - not too enthusiastically but with a lilt in our voices. It seems to work with him. We also needed to start work on getting him to allow us to reach down to pet him so we started from the floor going over his head. The other thing that started showing up was a limp. It would come and go but was not too bad. I wonder if it had something to do with the weakened muscles in his topline and his legs as they adjusted to being able to move around so much. I called the rescue coordinator and we agreed to meet at the vets the early in the week to investigate this. He also passed a large number of tapeworm segments so we needed to take care of that right away. He had been treated for other parasites but the product used doesn't cover the common tape.
     

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