I am pretty silly sometimes. I rescued a little Papillon that is mostly black. He was about 6 months old and as fearful a dog as I’ve ever seen. He had a big gash across his head so it wasn’t surprising.
His rescuer had done that to him. She decided to have him put down because he was too crazy. I took him out of her arms and took him home. Don’t you know that was a manipulation? It worked.
I took the little guy home and named him Raven Black.
We have had a hard time, Raven Black and I. He had already decided “come” means violence. He would hide under furniture if I called him or if I walked past on my way to another room.
He would sit a room away from me and stare at me all evening. He would not eat his food until I was out of the room. If I looked at him too long he would start hysterically barking at me. I was thinking he wasn’t noticing the hand that fed him.
All the time I called him Raven Black and he stared at me like I am an axe murderer. I have talked vicious dogs down in a half hour or less. Really, I am not an axe murderer of little guys like Raven Black.
Every chance I could I picked him up and petted him and talked soft to the poor little guy. At best he would lean as far away from me as possible and get away from me if he could.
This went on for over a year. I discovered that I am not comfortable with being the monster in the house. I considered finding him a different home. People are not so patient with dogs and he obviously had emotional issues.
Raven is a small dog and I don’t give him much in the way of snacks. Usually a bit of meat from my plate and put in his bowl.
One day he shocked me by coming up to the table and sitting up to beg and putting his paws together and asked for his meat. I do not know where that came from! After I recovered from the shock of it, I gave him a piece of meat from my plate. Big no no but I had never been successful at getting him to take food from my hand when we were getting acquainted. Grab and run was about it. Even my boss’s 5 year old black lab who was bad for snapping food out of your hand learned to sit and take a snack nicely in a couple days.
So there he is sitting on his hindquarters begging. When I offered the meat, he took it as slowly and delicately as you please.
Every tiny move toward me has been fraught with fear.
The first time I caught him voluntarily touching me I woke up one night and he was curled up against my legs. As soon as he realized I was awake he shot off the bed like a cannon ball.
We have progressed a long way in the past two years. We play fight and he is prone to try to get between me and a book looking for cuddles. He is skittish but not too often anymore. He would never come when called.
Then one day I said “Come on little guy.” and he came right to me. After all this time, I just realized his love name is Little Guy. He was just hauling my shoe off to chew on it and I said no, Little Guy, bring that back. He did. I have asked him to sit down and so long as I use his name he will. We are now tight buddies and he is responding well to voice commands. I haven’t tested him with strangers in public. We’ll see.
The other half of the story is that he trained me to let him sleep on my bed and feed him tidbits of meat at the table. All things I would never let my big dogs do. He is still working on making me go to bed at bedtime when he takes my and tries to drag me to bed. I am resisting that one.
But that crazy Raven Black is gone and Little Guy is here. I don’t miss Raven a bit.