Louie is a 1yr old collie . Although still a youngster, he was already on his third family. He’d started with one family but, fortunately for him, had been taken away from them after being badly treated. Then he went to a foster home.
When I got a call, he was with a new family on a fortnight’s trial. He’d been with them less than a week, so that didn’t sound too good. It seems that Louie went ballistic when he saw another dog on a walk & they had great difficulty holding him. And, naturally, he was rather alarming in this reactive mode.
However, when I arrived to the family home & tried to put him through his paces – to sit, pay attention, or walk with me – I could get no reaction at all. Louie didn’t want to do anything. He just stood with his head near the ground. It was like he was emotionally shut down.
So we went for a walk but not before I changed him from his collar & lead to a dedicated harness. I also showed his owners how I was going to attract his attention off the ‘target’ dog back to me.
Louie duly reacted in his OTT manner with the first dog we came across. However, almost immediately he managed to re-direct his attention back to me. That was a good sign. I was also secretly pleased that he had actually come alive!
After two visits when we walked him around the neighbourhood, did some basic training, & numerous phone calls & emails in between, I persuaded his owners to come to classes. As predicted, the first session was a nightmare for them as Louie was staring & reacting to every other dog. I hadn’t expected anything less than that but it upset his owners. The next lesson, I got a brainwave & put him in his own little place with poles all around him as protective barriers & all the family half-blocking his view. Thus he was able to manage to do the training in situ while the other members of the class moved around the room but well out of his personal space.
In the intervening week, I did an oil test for Louie & arrived with the oils over a weekend. The dog that greeted me that morning made my heart miss a beat. His eye was lively, his manner genuinely friendly & most of all, this was a happy dog, at ease with his prospective owners. He couldn’t get enough of the oils & has been taking them since.
Out on walks, he is so much better. He’s not one hundred percent bomb proof but his reactions are much less frightening & his owners can cope. As they gain confidence in dealing with him, so Louie gains self-confidence.
But the real revelation came in the final two weeks of classes. Louie performed so well on the third week. He remained in his own space but concentrated on his owners. The other dogs walked by with no problem. And in the final week he sat without batting an eyelid in the middle of the room while the others walked around him. It was a moment to saviour – especially the wide grins on both Louie’s & his owners’ faces!
They are keeping Louie much to everyone’s satisfaction.