I'm very proud of my girl for the way she handled herself last night (Monday). A longtime and very good friend of mine, who we'll call B, stopped by for a visit, when - long story short - plans went awry and he was in the neighborhood and left with no where to go (that's what happens when all of our friends are home from college and plans don't get finalized 'til the last minute).
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Due to Marge's issues with the front door (and with men), I kept her down stairs in the basement with Jessica while B entered the house. Once he was seated in the kitchen, I called her up to me and fed her an entire slice of cheese, bit by bit. I had told B to pay absolutely no attention to Marge, and, unlike so many of our house guests, he was willing to help.
Marge had no problem with his presence, for the most part. She did give him one grumble when too much pressure was put on her, but I think it had a lot to do with the fact that she has come to expect treats from all people, including scary ones, so she was vocalizing her wish for a snack in addition to the fact that she was slightly nervous by the situation.
Otherwise, she walked around the room as usual, came up to bop B with her nose a few times, was comfortable enough to drink water, lay flat on her side, and try to get the remaining pieces of treat out of her Waggle toy as we chit-chatted for a couple of hours. She acted pretty much the same as she normally does. She gave lots of tail wags and even jumped up on him a couple of times.
I gave her lots of cookies and a lot of verbal praise. For once, I can say that she experienced an almost purely positive meeting with a male visitor in my house. Thanks, B, for all of your help - we don't get to do stuff like this very often, so I cannot express just how monumental this was for Marge! A little help can go a long way.
Maybe, eventually, the "accepted persons list" will be expanded to fully include people like B. I'd say this was a great start. This gives me hope that Marge doesn't have to "hate" all men by default - in the right situations, she can really flourish and become friendly with people. They just have to be able to ignore her and not pet her - which is the hard part, because you can't control people. It is for those reasons why Marge is now so completely enamored with my boyfriend, Louie. In the beginning, he simply left her alone and let her approach on her own terms - now, they are inseparable!
At the end of our visit, I leashed Marge and walked B out, and we girls went on our first night walk in nearly a week. It was short, but she enjoyed herself. I was quite glad for that; given how well she did in the face of a stranger, she deserved a little fun. Good girl!
MargeBlog started in early 2009 as a training journal for my newly adopted, skittish Lab mix, Marge. Marge's world was small back then; her fears really limited the things I could do with her. Aside from trips to the park and attending beginner training classes, Marge was mostly a stay at home gal - not because either of us wanted her to be, just because the demons from her unsuitable upbringing continued to haunt her.
Slowly, the fear diminished, her world grew. Now, Marge is a fun-loving, squirrel-chasing, winning Agility and Rally dog who accompanies me to a wide variety of places. Here, you will frequently find detailed training updates, snippets from Marge's every day life at home, and photo-filled posts detailing our many outdoor adventures.
This is more than just a dog blog - it is an actual look in to what one shelter dog's life ultimately became when she found her first and forever home and began to blossom.
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A rescue from Georgia bounced around from shelter to shelter and state to state with her siblings, Marge did not have the luxury of living in a home - my home - until just past her first birthday. A life behind bars had taken its toll on Marge, whose obvious fear of people, noise, and city life in general left a lot for her to learn about how to get by in New York.
Marge is a different dog now than she was back then. It took years of new, positive life experiences, but her fears, which used to consume everything we did, are now only one theme in a great big book of adventures.
These days, Marge enjoys going to training classes, taking trips to agility trials, having play dates with friends, and eating anything that's even remotely edible - not bad for a dog who spent her puppy days in cages.
My time with Marge has been a learning experience for which I am ever grateful. As my first dog, she has taught me and continues to teach me so much more than I ever imagined about dogs, training, and behavioral/fear issues. She's a fun dog with a sense of humor who loves life and learning.
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