February 19, 2016 Friday. Another major milestone today! I’ve been working hard to coax Ty to come to me while in the fenced yard. I have seen a real desire in his face, but I also see his very real fear. What will happen if he actually does come to me? It has to be tough on him.
I’ve tried sitting, standing, kneeling and all at different spots, looking for something within his comfort zone. So far, I’ve found nothing that makes any difference. Yesterday, I was sitting in the swing and caught his leash as he flew past. Now I had him.
I gently reeled him to me like a fish on a line. Every few steps I’d let him stop and praised him continuously. He reached me, his tail tucked tight, ears down and shivering. He was so scared. He would not look at me as I petted and praised. Then I let him go. He took off like a streak. I let him make a few fly by’s before I caught his leash and repeated the whole thing again.
That was yesterday. Today, I was kneeling, partway between the swing and the gate and I called for him Again, he broke into his crazy pacing and eye rolling thing he does so well. Reminds me of a wild horse. I waited, hand out, repeating “Come, Ty.”. He slowly came closer, rushing past and made his circle. Next time he was a little closer and slower. Then past. Next pass-by was a little closer and slower than the last one. Then past.
Finally he stopped long enough for me to touch him on his skull, between the ears. I petted and praised, half afraid to breathe. Contact!
Tail tucked, head down, shivering, peeking at me each time I said his name, his brows puckered with worry. It broke my heart that after being together 11 months, he was still so scared to be touched and so close to me. But I was also glad he was trying to be brave and work past his fears.
We repeated those steps a few more times, each time lasting just a few moments. I started being able to touch him up by his ears. Next time along his ruff. Then his shoulders. After about five minutes of regular contact, I decided he’d done enough. It was time to go inside for a treat. He earned it!
February 20, 2016 Saturday. Dog park trip. He lasted twelve minutes before he hit his threshold. He’s been asleep in the corner of his cave since we returned. He woke long enough to go to the store withe me and eat his dinner. I wonder if yesterday’s breakthrough wore him out and sort of stressed his fine-tuned nerves.
February 28. 2016 Saturday. We went to the dog park again. This time he wanted to stay longer than his normal length of time. He didn’t really play with anyone in particular. He just ran around everywhere, checking out all the dogs and people. His usual threshold is around 12-15 minutes, today’s visit was a record-breaking 40 minutes before he signaled he was ready to leave. I’m pretty happy with that. I’d call it another milestone.
He no longer follows me into the bedroom when I go in for errands like he had been doing. In fact, he barely sleeps in there at night now, preferring-of course-his cave.
That change started a few weeks ago when I had a terrible cough. I sounded rather like a barking walrus most of the night. And angry walrus. After a couple of nights of that noise, he just left the room. Now that the cough is pretty much gone–finally, he still only makes a brief visit in and soon returns to the kitchen for the rest of the night.