Monthly Archives: November 2011

Daddy’s Little Helpers

Roxie was always a great little helper. Whenever I had to change the bedsheets, she’d jump onto the bed to “help.” She loved getting caught under the fitted sheet (which is what we called helping). When Wes was building something, Roxie was always right in the thick of things, growling or barking at (and sometimes attacking) the compressor whenever it kicked in. When we worked in the garden, she helped us dig the holes (when she wasn’t biting the shovel!). Here’s a picture of one of the last projects Roxie helped with—the building of a backyard shed in 2008:

Roxie "helping" Daddy build a shed. It's the nail gun at the very front of the picture that had her attention before she noticed the camera. She always barked at the nail gun. (Boy, do we ever miss her!)

We have a bit of a different experience with Dusty, Cora, and Hogan. Dusty’s the most like Roxie when it comes to “helping.” He wants to be wherever we are. Cora is usually napping somewhere else, and Hogan’s usually on the lookout for squirrels or enjoying a break from Dusty’s relentless litany of “Let’s play!” A couple of weeks ago, though, both Dusty and Hogan decided they wanted to help us out with the finishing of the basement:

Dusty thought maybe he could use his tail to help me paint the undersides of the trim pieces.

Hogan was trying to learn Daddy's technique for installing door jambs.

I was downstairs at the time, but I bet while Dusty and Hogan were helping, Cora was looking something like this:

Cora recently discovered that the leather armchair in the living room is pretty darn comfy. It's her new favourite spot!

Best Buds Dusty and Hogan

Dusty and Hogan have been best buds since the day Hogan came into our home (July 1, 2011).

They wrestle:

Dusty and Hogan wrestling in the backyard

They nap together:

Hogan and Dusty were fast friends. I took this picture the day after we adopted Hogan.

They fight crime together:

SuperDusty and Batdog Hogan

They practise their alphabet together:

The letter L

And they play games like chase together:

They really love each other!

Dusty and Hogan kissing


Cora Learning to Play

Over the past few weeks, Cora has started to play more regularly. Almost every morning, she starts the day by waking Dusty and wrestling with him. He plays so much more gently with her than he does with Hogan. It’s as if he knows he has to be cautious with her or she won’t play with him. Whenever Cora sees me watching them play, she stops, as if she’s not supposed to be doing it. So I try not to let her see me. I tried once to get their wrestling on video, but activity stopped immediately.

However, earlier this week, I managed to get a video of Cora chewing a toy. This is a big step for her. Fortunately, Dusty let her have the toy. All too often, when he takes a toy away (as he does in this video), she walks away. This time, though, she took it right back from him. Girl power!

Update on the Retraining of Cora

This morning, Cora cowered when I went to pet her. She almost never does this with me anymore. I can’t help wondering if the elimination of L-Tyrosine from her regimen has had a negative effect. We’re going to go one more day without it, though, just to try to confirm what has an effect on her and what doesn’t.

In the next few days, we’ll move on to Plan B: the DAP diffuser.

(Read more about Cora and her fear issues by selecting “Cora” from the Categories menu in the right-hand column.

The Retraining of Cora

In the first few weeks after we adopted Dusty and Cora, our niece Sara (by the way, she makes really cool cards!) and her husband, Daniel, came for a visit because they were excited to meet the dogs. Cora was shy and nervous, as we’d come to expect, but succumbed to petting and seemed to want just as much attention as Dusty was getting.

Cora at my mom's. She felt uncertain of the unfamiliar surroundings, although she'd visited a few times before.

A few weeks ago, when Sara and Daniel were here again (they’ve also babysat the dogs on a couple of occasions), they reminded me of that first visit: Cora was actually more social (although equally as nervous) when we first got her! It bothers me to think that we’ve done something that has created more fear in her. I wonder if we’ve been overprotective to the point of making her more nervous. It’s the only thing I can think of.

Distressed and uncertain about what to do, I purchased Debbie Jacobs’s little book, A Guide to Living with & Training a Fearful Dog, and had some email and Twitter conversations with Debbie. Her book is really excellent, and so we’re taking her advice and starting over with Cora. When people come to the house, we ask them not to talk to Cora or even look her way. On a couple of occasions since we began this a couple of weeks ago, Cora has come out of her safe spot to join us and our guests. I give her treats when she does this. I think we’re making progress. But Cora nevertheless feels anxious when other people are in our house—and being familiar with how uncomfortable a feeling anxiety is, I want to ease Cora’s.

This is a posture we see Cora in often: sitting with her front paw raised, which is a sign of trying to appease.

The vet has suggested that the supplement we’re giving Cora for her hypothyroidism—which in the beginning gave her new life—may be contributing to her nervousness and anxiety, so he’s recommended that we take her off the supplement for a few days to see if we notice a difference. He believes if it is the factor affecting her behaviour, we’ll see a less nervous dog that quickly. So starting yesterday, we’ve taken away her L-Tyrosine. We do have a Plan B in waiting (a DAP diffuser), which we’ll start on Monday depending on the effects of the L-Tyrosine removal. And so Project Cora continues….