It’s nice having a dog to welcome you home. There’s nothing quite like seeing a big ole wiggle butt heading your way.
However, Mr. Bruno has started to get possessive of me, so we are nipping that in the butt right away. “Tough love” they call it. I need to become higher up on the chain of command, and show that I do not need protection (#independentwoman). No couch snuggles, no praise unless in training mode and he makes a good choice, no furniture, he has to work for his food (sit/stay). I tell people about this, and I get he look that means “You’re doing that to a dog you just rescued?”
Sounds mean – but it WORKS!
In two days, I’ve noticed a marked difference in our walks and his behavior in the house. He looks at me, he listens when I get him to sit/stay. He follows me with his eyes, but no longer needs to be in every single room with me wherever I go.
Progress is a wonderfully powerful motivator.
As for the cats… we’ve made many strides in the week he’s been at our house. Bruno has not yet accepted that the cats are higher up on the totem pole then he is… but he will. We’ve made strides thanks to my Mr. He did what I couldn’t – he started the integration. During the periods that we’re home, Bruno wears a leash so that if we need to grab for a correction, we can.
I feel terrible for quarantining my little furballs to cat prison the basement when we’re not home. I keep telling myself, it’s for their own safety. I know it is. In all actuality It’s a mostly finished basement, with their food, litterbox, two bedrooms and lots of cat toys to play with. So I know they most likely are not looking like this.
We need to teach him to ignore them. This will work.
I don’t need them to be best buds, I just need to him to learn that cats are not for eating or chasing. Bruno is still stressing out when they are near, and will always get up to look for them when they leave the room. He doesn’t trust them. They can be jerks, but I can’t wait for the moment when I can relax with all of my animals present. It may be a year… maybe 2, but I’m determined that it will happen.
BFW rescue has been fantastic, answered all of my questions tirelessly (and there have been many). What a bunch of gems.
Stay tuned for more on Bruno’s progress. Slow and steady…
A rescue dog isn’t for everyone. It’s clear to me now how much effort goes into making it “work”. Worthwhile work, but not for everyone. I’ve been an animal rescue advocate my whole life, and this is the first time I’ve welcomed an adult dog into our little pack. Let me explain – It’s been a tough transition for me, and by all accounts Bruno is a gem. It’s not his fault. You don’t know, what you don’t know. The transition can be a tough process for all, I have to work at staying consistent and rewarding all the good behaviors. I’m jumping the gun a bit, I know… it’s only day 4.
First impressions of Bruno
He’s good with other dogs
not destructive in the house
adores people including kids
Not motivated by food (How is this possible for a Bernese?)
loves a great couch cuddle
eats and sleeps fine.
So, you ask – what’s are the issues?
It’s not the anxiety, it’s not the indoor marking, it’s not the fact that he doesn’t know his own name or has zero recall (after all he doesn’t know us enough to come back to us…). These things do not intimidate me, it’s within my comfort zone to work with him on all of these.
The kicker? He doesn’t like cats. We were told he did, and that he co-existed with cats at his foster mamas. Maybe it’s just our cats, they’re jerks after all.
I know I’m not helping the situation here, I’m an overprotective mother bear about my two indoor cats. I see a dog snapping at them and I worry about their safety instead of allowing them to handle themselves in a safe environment. I’m making it emotional and it shouldn’t be. Knowing and doing are totally different beasts entirely.
I need to adjust my mentality pronto.
So far, we’ve been keeping them separated by a baby gate when we’re home so they can see and smell each other. At some point, despite the snapping, we have to start the proximity training without the gate. I can see the “leave it” command being very popular over the next few weeks.
Bringing an adult dog home that has been in four homes over his four years, has proved to be a very different experience then bringing home a 10 week old puppy. Some things I was ready for, some I definitely wasn’t.
Unfair to Bruno to say the least to compare the two experiences, but in truth – that’s all we know. My family had rescue dogs, but all from puppies. We had Newton from a puppy. It’s a very different experience.
It’s not an immediate connection, as I don’t trust him yet, and I suppose I didn’t expect that. I feel bad admitting its not an instant mushy kind of love.
I’ve always been able to trust my dogs in the past. I see now that I had unrealistic expectations of how I thought it was going to go from the start. I now see that this will take time – slow and steady we will bond, slow and steady he will learn to co-exist (or ignore) the cats. Slow and steady we will come to love and trust each other. After all, it’s what Bruno deserves.
At the end of the day, Bruno has all the potential in the world, we just have to learn how to let him shine in his own way. I’m getting that. I have a feeling he’ll be teaching me, as much as we will him in the coming months. A reminder to myself to stop freaking out.. it’s only day 4.
I know, I know – I’ve been extremely slack on this. Well, that’s all about to change…..
National dog day, one of my favorite days – August 27th – It usually means that I get to “like” everyone’s super cute social media pictures of their dog.
This year however, it brought us the “unofficial” email announcing that we were selected as new parents to this guy.
Meet Bruno. He’s a four year old Bernese Mountain dog currently fostered the next province over from me.
He was surrendered to BFW (Bernese Friends Worldwide) because his family recognized that they no longer had time for him. Sadly, a story we hear all too often. However, I’m thankful his family recognized this, and saw his potential to have a fantastic future with another family that had the time to give.
What a ragamuffin he was in his “before” pictures. After countless grooming hours he became the beautiful Berner he was meant to be. His painful mats were finally cut away, he received a bill of good health from the vet – and finally he was up for adoption.
His adoption photo got around on facebook (YAY Social Media), and I had about 5 different people send me his bio. (I meant LOOK at that face)
The process was more intensive then I thought it would be. Being on the receiving end of this was much more emotional than I thought it to be. An emotional rollercoaster that lasted a week! It brought up so many memories and learnings from Newton. As they asked our past dog ownership history, I used the only examples I knew.
The committee questioned me on everything from training methodologies to my opinions on vaccinations, emergency situations and dog food preferences. It was evident, they want the dog not to go to the best home on paper – but the best fit for the dog in question.
As intensive as it was, the process went fairly quickly (After two interviews, a Skype house visit and references checking out), and we found out on August 27th that we were the chosen as Bruno’s new forever home.
I haven’t met Bruno’s foster parents yet, but I have to give a HUGE shout out to them. I’ve asked about a million questions already, and they have patiently answered enthusiastically. Selflessly, they’ve given Bruno a home, albeit temporary, loved him and cared for him and facilitated the process that allowed us to find him. A process that we are very grateful for. WTG Foster parents – you rock!
There’s a odd sense of guilt associated with the process of bringing another dog into your house. I was prepared for that, especially today of all days. Timing is a weird little duck. Today August 29th, It would have been Newton’s 4th birthday, we signed the papers to adopt another 4 year old Bernese Mountain Dog.
Dates are always weird for me – Certain ones stick out. Today, in another lifetime, I would be shopping for Newton’s 4th birthday present(s). Instead I’m in the store choosing all of his favorite things for another. (Thanks Newton for showing me how valuable a stuffed Kong could be!).
However, with time comes clarity. For me, that meant getting to a place where I could celebrate his life and be grateful for the time Newt-dawg was with us.
The totally over the top factor for us is that we’re giving a new home to rescue pup. It makes both me and my Mr. get a little misty eyed when we chat about it over wine. In our own way, paying back to what helped us through a very tough time. As ridiculously excited as I’m getting, I’m attuned to what lay ahead.
Stay tuned for more on our next chapter…. Starting tomorrow!