Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Re-Training Bandito

The shot to the left illustrates how cheap, yet inventive that we are here @Carole and Gene's Tiny Farmette.  This is what I've had to do to keep my foster dog out of most of the house. The most appropriate doggy gate available is $80, because it has to be free standing for us with no gadgets to fiddle with in order to get it open. So, I searched the house (what a dump) for a free doggy gate and came up with a Priority Mail box and a mounted John Lennon poster.

I have to train myself first - how to housebreak and train a dog, because I've proved to be hopeless at this task. I've been lucky my whole life - all my dogs have either been already trained when I got them or they were Border Collies...enough said. This one is a little thing, part Chi and part...I dunno - something tiny with long legs that loves to run. Look at that face...if you could dismiss him because he's small, yappy and hard to train, then go grow a heart.

His previous mom became terminally ill and gave him up. He came to me needing a lot of love and security (that's a worn out Thundershirt he is wearing) and I can't bear to adopt him out, because he's been through enough. I don't know what brought him to Life4Paws before his previous adoption, but it probably wasn't a good life. He's one of many abandoned Californian dogs who are lucky if they get to be one of the rescued dogs that are taken north by volunteers running adoption services in the NW and Western Canada. Most of the dogs are on the small side - you can get more of them into the rescue van. They are surrendered to the volunteer foster organizations by shelters that are over burdened and those that don't make the cut are the unlucky ones that get euthenized.  Bandit has been through the whole experience, incarcerated, shipped to Oregon, fostered and finally loved by an adoptive mom... and then sent back into the foster system. He has some issues to overcome...

I was told that he's housebroken, which turned out to be not really true  - someone has trained him to do it in the bathroom. He's right on target most of the time, too. Poops on the bathroom floor and will pee there too, if we don't keep him outside long enough. My sarcastic thanks to whomever thought this was the best way to handle it and I don't care what their excuse is. If you can't get to the door to let the dog out, have a doggy door and a fenced yard and hire someone to pick up the yard. It's tough to untrain this kind of behavior and this is another reason why perfectly good dogs end up euthanized. He's lucky that he ended up with Life4Paws, where we don't give up. Gawd, I hope he doesn't get frustrated with the doggy "gate" and pee on my John Lennon poster...damn thing is an antique. 

But, why is it not an issue when we go to the dog park? If he hasn't recently dumped on the bathroom floor, he poops within minutes after we get into the park. The only thing on his mind is tearing across the park to run with the pack and apparently he knows that he's got to unload first, even if it's not where he was trained to unload. Think like a dog....but can I apply that some way to his re-training? Probably not...

He's always the smallest dog at the Hondo Dog Park and he draws a lot of comments about how cute he is and how amazing that he keeps up with the pack of big dogs. He's learned that, while it's fine to run with the pack, it is dangerous to engage the bigger ones in play and best to seek out a buddy of similar size. There's always at least a couple of smart ass bullies in the bunch who zero in on Bandit like he's fresh meat. When we can go to the small dog yard, he'll run himself ragged playing with one or more little guys and when he makes friends with one in particular, he falls in love and has to be carried off when it's time to go. 

Retraining an adult dog is a huge challenge. I've had him for 5 months and the biggest thing either of us has learned is that I don't know how to train dogs and with my particular disability, it's an enormous challenge to learn how... but it can be done! If I can do it, then it follows that the Bandito can do it...

Does anyone really think Bandit will end up back in the foster system? 

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