Two days in....
Friends have asked how Thomas is doing, so here is a short post just to document his progress. Note: If you haven't read the previous post here, you might want to scroll down to that one first before reading on.
Two weeks ago when I brought him home (directly from the animal hospital after his neuter surgery) he was loopy, still under the influence of drugs and definitely not happy. (Getting a forty-pound dog into the extra cab of a truck on my own without hurting his sore bottom was quite a feat. I think some angels in the form of the dog-loving spirits of my dad and brother were there to help out.)
Needless to say, he was uncomfortable for the first few days. More critical, though, was his fear of everything. Just putting his collar on traumatized him. He would turn his head as far away from me as he could, his tail tucked so far between his legs it simply disappeared.
During the day, he wanted to stay in the yard, and so I let him. He would go to the far side yard and huddle into the corner between the house and the block wall, remaining there until I came to get him with the leash to lead him to food and water and a chance to pee, which he would do quickly, always seeking to get back to his safe spot.
After five days, we did a short walk around the neighborhood. Again, Thomas was terrified of every person, bike, vehicle or sound we encountered. He panted anxiously, and as soon as we turned for home, he began pulling on the leash to get back to safety again.
Each night from the first I would end my day by sitting beside him, talking or singing to him, brushing his coat and slowly massaging his back. Eventually he began to relax, and he stopped flinching every time I touched him. But he never wagged his tail, would not even try to take a treat from my hand, no matter how tempting.
Last weekend I met some of my neighbors while we were walking. Linda and Pete have a Shih tzu named Gizmo, and I asked if they would mind if Thomas got to know him. They were patient and supportive when I described the life Thomas once lived, and we talked about dog rescue for a while. As we did, Thomas stopped trying to pull away and simply stood beside me, leaning into my leg. "Looks like he's starting to trust you," Pete remarked. I smiled.
I've been coming home for lunch every day to check on Thomas and bring him out of his corner for water and treats. On Wednesday, he heard me calling his name and trotted out on his own. I nearly cried. Evidence in the yard showed that he had finally made himself comfortable.
Several nights ago when we returned from our walk, instead of running for his corner when I unclipped the leash, he trotted over to the spot where I brush him. (It's also near the cupboard where his treats are stored.) I grabbed the brush (and a highly expensive organic all natural peanut butter treat--but he's worth it), and we spent some time together relaxing.
Two mornings ago, after eating his breakfast, instead of retreating to his safe corner, he ran around the backyard just as happy dogs do. That time, I did cry.
I have yet to see him wag his tail. He still won't take a treat from my hand, will not even walk forward to get it. But he no longer turns his head away from me, watching me expectantly when I'm in the yard with him. Today we drove to a park and took a long walk around in the grass, meeting other people with dogs and sniffing all the trees.
And yes, the cats are learning to accept him. Fearless Purrl is leading the way, just as I knew she would, sometimes coming out to creep around on the patio while I am brushing Thomas. While Sugie is not happy about sharing her home and yard with a smelly dog, she has not once fled to hide under the bed. In fact this morning, knowing Thomas was in the yard (though in his corner), she crept out into the backyard and enjoyed a nice, relaxed roll in the grass--nothing short of a miracle to me. Looks like those angels are still hanging around, helping out.
Two weeks in....