Saturday, January 28, 2012

bella's beautiful progress

Last year, after the joy of adopting Bella, we faced the struggles of her unknown past. I haven't posted anything about her since, so let me remedy that now by telling you about her progress - both as a beloved member of the house and as a dog recovering from abandonment.

  • Bella learns our routines quickly, and amusingly. When we first got her, she knew that my post-breakfast glass of ice water was the last step before she went into her crate. So as soon as she heard the ice clinking into my glass, she would go sit by the basement steps. These days, she goes WILD in the morning after Able-Bodied Boy gives me my morning kiss goodbye; this means he's about to take her downstairs for food.
  • Speaking of food, we overfed her and she's really turning into quite the chub. We're currently working to get her weight down by 20%, and as such she constantly hunts for sustenance elsewhere. We are obviously letting her waste away and she reminds us frequently.
  • Bella has gotten 100% comfortable with our Tuesday night gang. Her first "incidents" were with two of the guys on Tuesday night, and it took all parties a while to recover comfort and confidence. But now she can't get enough lovin's from them. And we recently added Purple Monkey and her infant; Purple Monkey has already gotten belly offers (this is when we flop on our back and wiggle around to show you a warm fuzzy belly that you know want to rub, right?) and the infant is a mild curiosity.
  • Bella has always been great with little kids. Our first encounter with a toddler was a little traumatic for the toddler (more on that in a moment), but she otherwise just flees in the presence of the unpredictable young ones. She'll yelp if accidentally hurt, but never anything more.
  • Bella doesn't know how to play. She chews hard bones. She chews soft cloth toys/blankets/towels if we allow her. She barrels into you from a running start, if you let her. But otherwise, she won't take balls, rope toys, frisbees, or anything of that sort. If you throw something in the yard, she runs after it, past it, and enjoys watching you fetch it. Which is why, the first time she saw a toddler, Bella barrelled into her from a running start... because that's the only play she knows. We would love to teach her how to play, but really have no idea where to start.
  • Bella is quite comfortable with my family now, having spent a bit of time with them at their various houses lately (with the holidays and all). Her main issue now is with the other dogs. They do fairly well for the first few days (maybe a growl here or there to remind them that she likes her space), but after a couple of days, the tensions start running higher and they get into a scrappy fight. All this has mainly taken place at other's homes, and we haven't had the other dogs to our place in a while. It will be interesting to see how she does with that, if the occasion arises.
  • Bella was wonderful on her first long car ride. We went from a longest trip of ~2 hours to a 9-hour trip. A little whining in the beginning, and a little whining at the end, but otherwise she was content and had no car-sickness. At each stop, she gladly hopped back into the car. I think she would just do anything to be with us.
  • We are becoming better at identifying her signs of discomfort with other people, know when we are better off just leaving her isolated (which she tolerates/understands more now) and at providing rules to "strangers".
    • If she is laying/sitting on her bed, that is her territory and you should not approach her.
    • If she is laying/sitting near me, I am her territory and you should not approach her.
    • Ignore her. Let her sniff you and do not try to pet her. Ignore her. If she wants your attention, she will come up and sit by you and look at you. Otherwise, ignore her.
  • We used that last tip with my parents the first time they ever met her. Within three hours, she was sitting at my father's feet, begging to be petted. I call that a Win. Of course, there are still some who, after listening to the rules, say "Oh, dogs love me!". I am happy to say they are still in possession of all fingers, but may be a little less confident in that personal assessment.
  • Bella still makes some of our friends and family uncomfortable. So we send her to boarding (which she now tolerates much more, now that she knows we always return) instead of traveling with her, or lock her away upstairs while they are at our house. It doesn't bother us to do so. It's all about the comfort and safety of all parties involved. There are some situtations in which everyone wants her to be present, but Able-Bodied Boy and I don't feel like it's appropriate. She is our responsibility, and if we can't always be watching her but feel like we need to keep an eye out, we have to decide if we have the time and energy to devote to her introduction to the particular group. We take our responsibility seriously and judge each situtation independently.
  • My favorite part about the whole thing, about wanting a dog for so long, about working through that with Able-Bodied Boy, about finding Bella and dealing with all her quirks and all the coordination to keep her - ya know - fed and happy and alive... my favorite part is that Able-Bodied Boy LOVES her. Loves her so much it makes my heart ache. Loves to get down on the floor and play with her and use his playful kid voice. And that means more to me than anything...

Do you have similar stories of 'time healing all things'?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


1 comment:

  1. I'm so very happy to hear about the amazing progress that Bella has made! She looks so cute, can't wait to meet her! And while I'm a dog person, I will definitely abide by the guidelines you've set; being a dog person means I know that dogs have their rules and quirks that you have to abide by ;)