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2008 Merry Kerry Rescue Mickey


© 2008 Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation

From: Eileen Andrade
Subject: Update
Date: January 9, 2007 8:05:30 AM PST

Just thought I would update everyone on several of the kids from the October rescue out of Ohio. Tracey Campanello pulled six 7 month old pups out of a mill and shipped them to a variety of places. Four of them made their way to the west coast and three of these have now been placed. Bonnie Blue is now happily ensconced in her new home in Salt Lake City UT where she has a male companion and is happily bouncing around in the snow. Her sister, Quinnie, now lives in Santa Rosa, CA with a male Lakeland Terrier that she adores. Jack is still in foster care, but improving from his extreme shyness with every day under the tutelage of Larry, Christine and his Kerry foster sister, Ruby.

The shyest of these kids was Mickey. First fostered with my minister and his family of two kids, two dogs and two cats, Mickey was a trembling mass of nerves. In the beginning he wouldn't walk on a leash - he just belly crawled, but he was happy to sit in your lap for hours on end - drooling the whole time but melting into your arms. After the first three weeks he was placed with former Kerry breeder Georgia (Starkdom) Swann and her two miniature poodles.

The following is part of the text of an email received from Georgia several weeks later:

Mickey seems to be trying really hard to be friendly but he still has reservations. We let him come to us instead of trying to force him to come when he doesn't want to. He is very shy about being touched. He plays with Max and he likes for me to play with him in the backyard. He loves to run. He still barks and nothing seems to be a deterrent. We get him on the couch or bed and he turns into another dog. He will come up to me as long as I don't try to touch him. He is still very shy when others come into the house. He loves to watch the Animal Channel with Max. They both stand up in front of the TV and watch the other animals. He is so sweet in the bed and licks my face and hands. When he gets down he turns into another animal. Frightened and shy. It is so confusing to me. He had an eye infection and it is now cleared up. He doesn't have the mucous discharge anymore so I think it is fine. T he vet said he is healthy but can gain a few pounds. He sometimes has his tail at half mast instead of curved under. That makes me think he is a little happy. He loves to take all the toys out of the box so he can experience new ones. He gets on the couch and takes all the covers off and puts them on the floor to sit on. We really love him and hope he decides to trust us eventually. When Bill is gone he sits by me but seems to fear coming around me when Bill is here. I think he has a fear of men for some reason. I would like to know what happened to make him so skeptical. We do care a lot for him. Just wanted to let you know his current status. I will keep in touch. Thanks.

- Georgia

So this past Sunday Lesley Ferguson and I made a trip to visit Mickey. We took scrumptious treats just for him (dried salmon and chicken) and spent several hours cuddling him, observing him and spoiling him with food. Mickey is still very shy and runs if you stand up or approach him, but when you are sitting down he will cautiously approach you and eventually allow himself to be picked up, following which he melts into your arms and will stay for long periods of time. He isn't drooling any more. We worked with Georgia on exercises to build his confidence.

For a dog this shy there are several things that we suggest:

  • Leash him to you on a long line so that he has to go where you go.
  • Feed by hand. Every morsel that he eats should be directly from your hand. On the long line feed at your side without making eye contact with him.
  • Use a crate to define a safe harbor for him. Put him in this when expecting strangers so that he knows he is safe. Once guests are in the house and settled down open the crate door and allow him to come out under his own steam when he is ready.
  • Never chase him down and corner him, instead let him drag a leash and step on it to allow you to approach him.
  • Work on "targeting" by placing food in your hand, put it in front of his nose and praise him when he touches your hand, then give him the food. Change types of treats frequently if he wearies of one type. Use a wooden kitchen spoon with aerosol Cheez Whiz on it if need be (if he won't approach your fingers at first).

Last night I met Georgia, Bill and Mickey at a local obedience class that I have used before. The two trainers there knew that we were coming and knew what Mickey's issue was so they were prepared for us. There were about 15 people and 5 other dogs in the class. While Mickey didn't make any progress towards sit, watch me, wait or heel - he did make progress with his own issues. By the end of the hour he was readily targeting, taking treats from Bergit and Nancy as well as the three of us and hadn't tried to hide under our chairs or startle significantly when other people passed close by. We all feel that he made GREAT strides with this and we're looking forward to the next five weeks of class.

I'll keep you posted on his progress as over the past three years, as in the case of Emma from the Alaska rescue some years back, we are finding that many of these mill dogs are extremely shy of people. If you have a rescue that has some degree of this shyness please have patience and take heart, there is a better life coming for them. Some of these dogs will never lose all of their reserve but we have certainly seen great improvement over time with the majority of them. If you have a rescue who exhibited these issues and has improved I'm sure that others on the list would like to hear about your experiences - what did you do that worked and what didn't? How is the dog now? Let's share and see if we can't improve life for all of them.

Eileen Andrade
- Rescue Coordinator for the Southwest

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