Wednesday, January 18, 2012

# 178 - Is THIS the Same Dog?

Several months ago, our family adopted a rescue dog, a little Yorkie.

I didn't expect to be getting a THIRD dog at this time in our lives, but Belle the Yorkie could not be ignored. She desperately needed a very involved family and some behavior reconditioning.

For one thing, she continually tried to attack sweet old dog who was herself a rescue dog nearly ten years ago. Good thing that Lyla is patient because Belle came to our house so aggressive that she'd run up and nip Lyla in the hind quarters every chance she got.

But, one day, Lyla used her big jaw and big body to pin the little Yorkie against the wall so that they'd have an "understanding." It helped. A little. At least Belle the Yorkie now understood that the big dog was not a push over, she was simply patient, but that patience was wearing thin.

Meanwhile, we were learning techniques that worked with Belle to distract her from her one-way mindset of going after Lyla. This little dog could not even let Lyla take a nap; she wanted to constantly demonstrate some form of dominance and aggression. We found that popping a rolled up newspaper in our hands would often be enough to distract Belle from her ugly task, she did not like the sound of the paper popping and she'd finally snap her head upward toward the noise and decide to do something different. But, the need to do this remained constant.

At one point, this Momma thought it'd never work. I thought that this household would not be the right one for Belle because my Lyla, Big Red, deserves some peace and quiet in her last years...not some neurotic dog who constantly tried to pick a fight. And since this Momma is the one who is the main care-giver of the dogs for the most amount of time, this doggie's address was in danger of changing.

However, a good idea came along. Get the dog a muzzle to wear during her high-stress moments for behavior modification. PetCo had a nice mesh muzzle that still allows a dog to drink, eat and to bark, but not as easily. They just can't open their mouths full jaw open. With her aggression, we decided to give it a try during the high aggression points during the day.

It was a miracle. Over the first week of wearing the muzzle for short periods of time, such as when all three are released from their kennels in the morning...Belle is most aggressive in the first 15 minutes of the morning...the muzzle goes on for these 15 minutes and now we are seeing a huge difference in her personality. Even better, my beautiful Lyla no longer has to be mindful and concerned with grumblings that she's about to be bitten from behind by that little stinker, so Lyla is more at ease in the morning, as she should be.

We've been using the muzzle for the past month and I would never have believed that this little contraption could prompt such big changes in a dog's personality. A gentle form of control has given us a proper way to tame Belle's panicked instinct to constantly be looking for a fight. Yorkies can be stubborn little boogers, known for being killed by larger dogs simply because the Yorkie won't back down. My Lyla is part Boxer and could have Belle for lunch, if she wanted, but because Lyla is such a well-trained, beautiful spirited dog, Belle is given chance after chance and put in her place firmly, yet safely when needed by Lyla's nurturing manner.

Belle is now to the point to where she can lie side by side next to Lyla and be at peace. We've come a long way. They play in the backyard together and Lyla always keeps her eye out for Belle's well-being. She's grown attached to the little butt-biter.

Beyond that, Belle is so intelligent that she picks up on everything Howdy does. It seems that Belle thinks that she's really an Australian Shepherd.

Everything Howdy does, from circling the chickens to playing fetch, she does too. She observes and then jumps right in to mimic his behavior. It's the most incredible thing to see a dog do.

And she's off to run for the ball!

She loves catching the ball. Yes, she can stuff that tennis ball in her mouth. She can jump and catch it mid-air. She's learned to bring us the ball so she can keep playing. She's a barker during these games, but it sure lets her expend her boundless energy.

This week, even though Stefie has been attending college since she graduated from high school, she's now gone off to Texas State to finish her degree to be a Child-Life Specialist. Stefie has done her best to help out with Belle --- she has taken her to the vet, she takes her to be groomed and gives her plenty of attention when she's here.

Stefie spreads some love around to the dogs, yes, even to Howdy who is goofy about her.

However, on her list of things to do during the week before she left for college was to send Belle to the groomer again. This time, she'd give a new place a try.

Needless to say, we barely recognized Belle upon her return. Our mouths dropped open. Is this a Yorkie or a Gremlin I wondered? I dare not use the "U" word for fear of hurting her little doggie feelings, but all that beautiful hair is GONE! What were they thinking? It's WINTER for goodness sakes. She had NO fleas and NO matted hair, just a few tangles at the top of her head that were no big deal. The rest of her body had hair still too short to get tangled, but it had been curly and luxurious.

Now...she's just...shaved...from head to toe...shaved. I think her feelings are wounded. This little dog has made great strides in changing for the better, but after this haircut, I don't recognize her. Is this the same dog?

I've been there Belle. It'll grow back, I promise. Hang in there, it'll grow back.


LindaG said...

Hope you don't use that groomer again.
Poor Belle looks quite upset, too.
But yes, it will grow back. Fortunately.

Enjoy the rest of your week! :-)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Aw, the poor baby. We used to have a blond dog who we believed was part collie and part German shepherd. Beautiful dog, but one time I let the groomer talk me into giving Buck an alleged lion cut. The poor, poor thing. Not only did they shave him painfully close, but it turned out he had a bazillion moles and warts that were now visible on his almost-naked body. Plus, of course, he had foo-foo balls of hair around his feet, and a bushy "mane" and a wad of hair at the end of his tail. I'm ashamed to say, when my kids and I went to pick him up, we got hysterical. Poor thing knew he looked ridiculous (no thanks to our laughter, no doubt) and he took to hiding when we got back to the house. We never, ever got him a lion cut again.

Charade said...

Shame on that groomer. Just get Belle a cute sweater and keep telling her she looks so pretty.

We lost our Yorkie Bubba to a big dog who didn't appreciate being told to back off by a five-pounder. I sure hope the muzzle has done the trick for your precious one.

Michelle said...

What was that groomer thinking! Poor baby. said...

Linda --- It was Petco. The terrible part is...Stefie had been so happy that everything was exposed during the grooming. Stefie didn't like the idea of her little doggie being behind closed doors during grooming, but I think Petco took the EASY route in this case. Stefie had specifically asked for, as usual, a "Puppy Cut," but what she got was her dog shaved close to the skin. We were all shocked. Plus, Stefie and I had bathed Belle the night before her grooming, so we know she is an extra clean dog. Oh well.

Susan --- You had me laughing, but feeling so bad for the guy at that time! Poor Buck! I guess anyone who has had to get a haircut knows about being on wrong side of those scissors. But, the Lion's Main and foo-foo parts is hard to beat! My grandmother told me, long ago, that dogs definitely are embarassed after a grooming...they are touchy about their fur. She is right. Poor Belle looked pitiful after her grooming and we tried to give her extra attention. She just wanted to sit in Deputy Dave's lap and sulk. It was comical.

Charade --- Stefie bought her a sweater, but it was a tad too tight. But, she's been getting extra attention as the only lap dog around here. And your little Yorkie...AUGH...just proves that these dogs think that they are a Grizzly Bear or something. Belle will head to the back fence and begin jumping, ready to do battle with the two Great Danes that live behind us. I can see that if a strange dog came up to us, she'd be likely to be snapped in two. This was the entire reason we got Howdy as our last dog, I wanted to have a dog that was big enough to not be carried away by a bird and to withstand some heavy duty physical predators. I think Belle would go for an attack every single time. I'm sorry to hear about your little doggie, but now that I've experienced this breed's attitude toward feeling invincible, I can see how it can easily happen. :-(

Michelle --- I think my daughter is going to re-consider my own offer to groom the little doggie. I think I could do it. At the least, I could do no worse than this last haircut she's gotten. I am going to take the reins and be in control of keeping the hair that grows near hear eyes and around her face trimmed. I'll only have to take her in for a nail trimming and filing. Much better for her and a lot less money and no more "bootcamp" looks. said...

Susan --- I just drove myself nuts by posting Lion's Main instead of Lions Mane. My bad.

:-) Lana

Alicia said...


Alicia --- my Spanish is bad, but here I go...Muchas Gracias. Yo amor todo mi perritos. Yo es loco por mi perritos.

:-) Hope you can figure out what I'm trying to say in my baby spanish!!