Age: 5 Years
Weight: 37 lbs
Fenced yard required: No, but must be leashed
Location: SE Michigan
Foster Home: Jo
BC Experience Required: No
Good with dogs: Yes
Good with cats: tbd
Good with kids: tbd
Commands: Sit; Stay (about 90%); Come (about 40%)
Almond Joy and Heather (raised together and would prefer they be adopted together)
Their owner passed away. When Police, EMTS and Animal Control officers came to pick them up, they were relatively calm. Almond Joy was a bit withdrawn. These beautiful girls were taken to the County Animal Control where they remained for about a month. Both girls passed temperament tests (including interactions with other dogs) with flying colors and staff at the shelter were able to handle them all over including belly rubs. Almond Joy (the mostly white one) is deaf and tends to rely on her sister, Heather, for cues. They entered foster care on August 17, 2021.
Prey Drive: mild
Food & Treats: Gentle taking food from your hand. If the treat is high value, she gets grabby (not aggressive) and may get your hand with her teeth.
House Manners: She is not being crated in the house and she has not bothered anything she is not supposed to. However, if I leave food unattended either on the kitchen counter or where I am eating, she will try to sneak it.
8/17/21 – Day 1
Terrified; following Heather to know what to do. She met 3 other dogs on day one and all got along. When it comes to human interaction, Almond Joy is very skittish. In fact, for you dancers out there familiar with a dance move called the ‘death drop’, Almond Joy is VERY good at this. If you walk near her, she will drop straight to the floor, head down.
Feeding time: Almond Joy simply sniffed the food and walked away – nervous probably. After she watched the resident dogs eat, she showed more interest but I ended up hand feeding her till she went to her bowl. She did not show any food aggression with me or the resident dogs.
8/19/21 – Day 3
Terrified. Upon waking up from naps, Almond Joy is immediately coughing. I saw she was vaccinated for Bordatella but I was concerned. Reading her paperwork, I saw that she had been treated for an Upper Respiratory Infection at the shelter. I began giving her coconut oil to help soothe her throat from the coughing. Still doing the ‘death drop’.
8/23/21 – Day 7
Still scared. Still coughing so I took her to the vet. Vet said it could take up to 4 weeks for the URI to work out of her system. No meds were administered. Eating on her own now.
8/24/21 – Day 8
Took her to Pet Supplies Plus to have nails trimmed – she cowered and would not stand up but did tolerate it. She was well-behaved in the store but was cautious with new people. She is fairly good on a leash and will stay with you.
8/25/21 – Day 9
Coughing is beginning to diminish. Still acclimating to foster care. Doing a great impression of a floor potato and still dropping to the floor.
8/27/21 – Day 11
Almond Joy got put on a leash tonight to try to get her used to me. She would always come for licks and head scratches w/ one hand but as soon as the other one came close, she would bolt. Although I don't know for sure, it looked like the kind of response when someone has tried to grab at a dog with both hands for possible correction. Anyway, I started scratching her head and then got her to lay at my feet and even got her to turn her belly to me (even though the tail was tucked) and she let me put both hands on her and rub her. She did relax and I made her stay there past the point of relaxation to leave in that positive state. I will work on that every day with her.
Did find out that (FOR HIGH VALUE) treats, Almond Joy is a bit grabby.
Almond Joy is hardly coughing much now. Maybe only one really good cough per day.
Well, I'll be darned, the leash trick really worked because while I'm typing this, Almond Joy just presented her face and then her butt to me for a scratch. With this progress, I might be able to move forward with sign language without her shrinking away from me.
9/4/21 – Day 19
Today, she let me and a friend clip the mats out of her fur. Brushing is still tricky with only one person. It scares her.
Bought hot dogs as an incentive to begin training with a combination of dog commands and ASL (American Sign Language). She didn’t respond to the hot dogs and instead, retreated in fear shaking.
No longer using a baby gate to separate Heather & Almond Joy from the resident dogs; all is great!
9/11/21 – Day 26
Most times, Almond Joy’s MO is, if you try to pet her, shrinking to the floor. She plops to the floor – HARD! Those plops are starting to diminish ever so slowly. But her barking has increased a bit as she becomes more comfortable with her surroundings. And if Heather alerts her to a dog on the other side of the fence, she will go and bark until you block her away from the fence. We are learning the sign for "NO" really well.
I have started a combination of regular dog commands and ASL Signs. Most times if I show Almond Joy a sign, she doesn’t respond. We are working on “no”, “come”, “eat”, “yes”, “sit” and “stay”. They are also learning ‘back up’ when I am near the door and don’t want them to follow or when I want them away from the kitchen. She doesn’t understand any of it but we have to start somewhere.
She is still hesitant about everything.
9/12/21 – Day 27
Tried separating Almond Joy from Heather today for training purposes and Heather barked her fool head off in the crate and Almond Joy shut down almost completely, trembling in a corner.
At night, these two can't get much closer together while they are sleeping. They are rarely apart unless I force them apart.
Still working on previously mentioned commands and are also working on ‘roll over’ for belly rubs and brushing. Because of her timidity, it is very hard to teach Almond Joy because she immediately goes to the floor if you get near her. Still afraid.
9/14/21 – Day 29
I've finally got her to stop cowering so much when she sees me. She is a skittish girl. I have been using the ASL ‘yes’ sign when she does something I approve of.
I am starting to see Almond Joy come out of her shell. Almond Joy is no longer cowering just because I walk past her and she 'came' to my ASL sign today. She is also no longer cowering when I give her a "yes" sign. Yay. Also, Almond Joy is not doing the 'death drop' hardly at all anymore.
Yesterday we started sign language for "cage". I gave her the command first and she went into the crate with a simple coax on the leash through the bars and then I gave her the 'cage' sign again and rewarded. She was intent on my face so I make sure I do the commands close to my face. Hopefully, with practice, this will work.
Finally got all the mats out of Almond's fur and she is finally letting me rub her belly without gouging me with her back legs.
Almond Joy seems to be less fearful of women and responds better to them.
9/17/21 – Day 32
Well, speaking of baby steps, guess who, besides Heather, is a counter surfer???? Timid little Almond Joy. I guess she's feeling more comfortable now. I have to be on my toes because, if I hear them moving things around, I have to run from wherever I am to catch them. Thank goodness her foster mom has good hearing!
Tomorrow, we start working on ASL signs for 'cage', 'peek' and 'settle or enough' (no bark).
9/20/21 – Day 35
Some firsts for them with me:
Today, using her 'sign' name (and NOT on a leash), Almond Joy came to me twice when combined with the come signal. I'm not sure she really knows what it means yet, but TO ME, that is progress.
Today was the first time I've gone to pet Almond Joy and she didn't shrink in fear and then she wanted a butt rub (while not being on a leash)! (Heather loves them).
9/30/21 – Day 45
Almond Joy is becoming more active and self-assured. She is now sitting when given the command (with and without treats). She wants more belly rubs and has started venturing from the floor to the couch. Her foster siblings have become more interesting to her and she is giving them face kisses and sniffs and is going to them a bit more.
Tried teaching her to go through a tunnel. She will only go so far to get the treat and then back out of it. I feel good about her trying something new.
Almond Joy follows me most everywhere I go. When I work in my office, she is content to sleep on the floor. When outdoors, she follows me if I’m walking through the yard.