This week marks the eighth week our new dog, Ember, has been living with us. I am delighted to say that our choice to adopt an older dog was a wonderful decision! Our family is smitten with her, as is our other dog, Abby.
Taking in an older dog permanently was something completely new for me. When we were driving her home from her previous life at a fabulous lab breeder I kept thinking what a huge chance this was to take. Would she get along with Abby? Could she have behavioural issues that might surface? What would she be like with other dogs that visit our home to board?
The past eight weeks have been very positive; she quickly adapted to our family routines and city living. What I have enjoyed the most is seeing her reactions to so many new experiences. I can almost sum it up to parenting a small child. I daily anticipate a new adventure or skill learned that is a first for her with us.
Upon arrival to our house she learned to climb our stairs up to the second floor. It took a few attempts as this was obviously something she was not familiar with. Her initial approach was to gun it up the stairs without stopping. I think that climbing the stairs quickly might have been less unnerving for her. Coming down the stairs seemed scarier for her, but quickly this emotion passed with practice and our encouragement.
It took her three days to master fetching a ball and now this is at the top of her list for a favorite activity. She adores being brushed and I swear she smiles when this is being done.
She has adjusted to the city life from a country upbringing. For example, she is now used to increased traffic, kids playing on neighborhood streets, the noise of lawn mowers and construction work on homes and on the streets.
We have discovered that she loves carrots as a treat. If the fridge is being opened and she hears a rustling bag she zooms in to check out if there could be a carrot hand out. Her love of carrots also benefits her health, as we think that they can help with the tartar on her teeth.
Ember knows where our dog treat jar is and, like Abby, sits near it after a walk or when coming inside.
On leash she has improved over the weeks with us. She never pulled on leash but initially zigzagged back and forth in front of us, not knowing where to walk with the supply of smells along the way. My friend Jon Fowles, a dog trainer and co-owner off Follow the Leader, a dog training school, suggested shortening her leash to help with this issue and it was the perfect suggestion. Thank goodness for this solution, as we would almost fall over her at times with her quick cut offs. Follow the Leader Dog Training School can be found at http://followtheleaderinc.com. I will be doing a post on their great work with dogs and their owners at another time.
She is terrific in our car with other dogs when we head to a nearby off leash park. I have been working with her to jump into our van but she hesitates eighty percent of the time. If I jump in and encourage her she will hop in but since this is impractical and I know that she is capable, I again asked Jon what to do.
He suggested having a very desirable treat on me and toss that in the car first for enticement. It is still a work in progress but she’s getting better. I figure that she has accomplished so much with her transition that this is a tiny blip.
Ember’s park nick name is “Hooters,” given affectionately from one of her fans. Because she was shaved when spayed a few weeks ago, her feminine side is quite exposed for all to see. She brings many a smile running with a retrieved ball with swinging, swaying nipples. She has produced three litters in her life time. She has dropped a few pounds in the last two months from added exercise and looks terrific.
It was really fun to see her visualize and greet other dog breeds initially at the park and in our neighborhood. Previously she was primarily with labs. She actually recognized her sister at the off leash park after almost eight years apart! https://dogstwentyfourseven.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/dog-siblings-reunite.
Ember always sleeps with her back against a wall, couch or bed. Sometimes she lies by our front door with the radiator against her back. She likes to be in cozy tight spots. We have found her squeezed into narrow places blissfully sleeping, for example between our dresser and bed.
We have three dog beds in our house but she has shown no interest. We have encouraged her to try them out but they are not her thing. Perhaps in time by observing other dogs using them she may indulge.
This past week she finally learned to drink from the off leash dog water fountain. It was kindly donated by a dog owner whose dog died the year before. It gets a lot of use and is so appreciated! Ember would go to it panting from chasing a ball and could not be convinced. I would encourage her verbally and cup some cold water in my hand to tempt her, but to no avail. I would give her water once back at the car to quench her thirst but really hoped for a break through
This past week she decided to drink when the water was not free-flowing, just when the bowl was full. This might be a good tip for owners whose dogs are not keen on water fountains. When she drank she earned lots of praise from me, which resulted in a full body wag from her as she was very pleased with herself.
Our gal has been spayed which was the right thing to do. She can now enjoy her deserved retirement with us. Our vet at the Laird Eglinton Pet Hospital has been so supportive of our taking in an older dog needing a forever home, http://lairdeglintonvet.com/site/view/137475_AboutUs.pml. The staff is the best you can get and the service top-notch. They seem to be just as delighted with Ember as we are as a family. Ember had her shots updated plus Heartworm/Revolution to keep her in fine form in the months/years ahead. With a few visits under our belt she has already added her vet as a positive place to visit with lots of friendly faces and added pets.
Abby is showing her the ropes like how to lie down when asked. This took a while but has been mastered by Ember. They share the many toys in our home and choose to be near each other at times.
I feel like Ember has been with us always and “feel” her gratitude by her eyes looking at me with devotion. She is quite a cuddle bug and nuzzles in close beside family members for the ultimate experience. I highly encourage people to consider rescuing an older dog. We skipped the challenging puppy stages and fast forwarded to the perfection stage. There is still a bounce in her step but also an ease about her that is truly wonderful.
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