By Huw Le Lytle
Well, that was the week that was! It’s hard to believe that little Jefferson Airplane has been with us just a week, it’s like he has always been here. He loves sofa wrestling with me, crazy zoomies with Aubrey, smoochies with the kitties, and eating his body weight in ribbies if he could (which is actually not that much, ha ha!). He sleeps in the big bed, likes to join in any meals by chewing a ribbie in Leo’s kitchen chair, loves to sit (with the kitties) in the washing in the laundry on any given laundry day, loves to watch the cleaning routine for the kitty boxes (but wouldn’t dream of interfering with any of the cubicles in their toilet block, he’s so polite), and he has been winning the hearts of everyone he meets with his irresistible Jeffness.
And it’s been a week of firsts. Jeff has registered with his new doctor, Dr Fabulous, got his first coat, got his flashy red tags, visited his first pub, visited his first coffee shop, had his first kitty kisses, set up his first Twitter, and had his first zoomies in his first big parks.
And Jeff has also done his best to tell us a little bit more about his history …
The Stair Master
When Jeff arrived last Thursday night we knew he had a curious phobia about stairs. The first few minutes he sat at the bottom of the staircase and screamed (like a child’s scream!). He did this only once, and then he was carried up and down the stairs for the first evening. But the next day Human noticed he had no phobia about the steps in the garden (steeper and arguably much more precarious!) and would bound and leap everywhere without thinking twice about it. Risk averse he is not. And it certainly wasn’t a height issue. Our diminutive fellow is quite the athlete, he can even leap on the big bed. So we wondered if perhaps he wasn’t allowed upstairs with his first humans and that they used to chastise him if he tried, possibly quite severely, resulting in one very scared puppy. So the next day we did a stairs session. Aubrey and Human sat on the stairs and treated him as he progressed, moving up a step at a time. And eventually Jeff did one flight. And then the next day he ran right to the top and back down again with us all! And then ran up and down about 100 times, to great cheers from everyone! Now, the stairs? What stairs? Jefferson Airplane takes off!
Jeff’s first humans also hadn’t housetrained him. In fact, it looked more like they had “trained” him to be scared of going in front of people (a not uncommon side effect of being scolded for early mistakes). So we just went back to puppy basics and he’s progressing really well there too, not making any mistakes and sleeping right through the night. The first night included a lot of trips outside (ie very sleepy household next day) but now he is doing great! And the smile on his face when he goes is so wonderful – his own special brand of toilet humour. He even rushes over for cuddles when he’s done. Jeff still prefers to toilet only in his own garden, but imagine the fanfare when he finally goes when we are out on a walk! I suspect it will get its own hashtag! Ha!
Jeff’s huge achievement in just a week is his recall. Jeff had never had any lead training when he was surrendered into rescue and we knew we had to work on this. So we started the week with a long line in the park. Long training lines are excellent, they can be tied to a person for extra safety, and they are slack all the while the dog is playing, so the dog can learn. And so we practised each day his recall on the lead. Then we went to a small, safe square and practised off lead. And then we let the lead go in the park so he could just run around and come back when called. And finally, yesterday, he went off lead altogether and he was amazing! His recall is super fast! Jeff is a quick study. Just six months old and he’s smart, he’s eager, and he’s wise. He’s a terrier!
So that was the week that was. It has been full of the joy of seeing a little pup turn his life around, facing challenges and making strides! And behind him stand so many wonderful people who helped him on his way. Eileen Jones, Ann Holley, and all the team at Friends of the Animals RCT, thank you!
If there’s one thing we would like to do, it would be to make sure that every dog has its day, every day.