Pebbles visits for a week

Pebbles stayed with us during her foster family’s Outer Banks beach vacation in late July, early August. Except in looks, Pebbles was nothing like Paisley. She’d come to us, tail high and wagging, enjoyed being petted, confidently approached Wendy and Little Dog and happily explored our yard. And since Peg, her foster, had already gotten her used to a leash we could even take her for walks. At first Paisley didn’t seem interested in Pebbles; she would slink away when Pebbles approached her. Pebbles wasn’t deterred though and continued to try to make friends with Paisley. After just few days I started finding them lying together in the dog area or walking together around the yard.

Peg had offered to take Paisley and Pebbles when she returned from the beach. Since Pebbles enjoyed being with Paisley and Paisley would likely improve faster if paired with a more confident dog like Pebbles this was a promising plan. Peg picked them up August 7th and has been sending me updates. I’m amazed at the progress Paisley had made under her care.

Here’s a video from August 11th:

An email from Peg dated August 13th:

The chicas are doing well, although Paisley isn’t nearly as social as Pebbles.  Today we’re trying to keep them separate, for two reasons.  First, Pebbles (aka Pebs) can be a bit much for shy Paisley (Pazie).  Pebs loves roughhousing, and, while Pazie enjoys that, she tires easily.

We’re also separating them today because Pazie has always had Pebs as a buffer between herself  and us. She takes most of her cues from Pebs and still shies away when one of us approaches her.  I think Pebbles might have some ownership issues—that may be playing into Pazie’s shyness of people, wanting to avoid Pebs’ jealous nipping.

Paisley is doing so much better though—her tail is up, her posture is much better, she sniffs around on walks, etc. Your suggestion of keeping her on a leash has been invaluable—this lets us give her a lot more (perceived) independence to explore the neighbor’s fenced yard and our house.

Pebs and Pazie are also good friends…they do have fun together, and enjoy napping side by side. It’s very sweet.

And from Monday:

Ohmygoodness, Allison…it has taken a while, but sweet Paisley has finally stopped shying away when we go to pet her.

She’d been joining Pebs when Pebs would come up to any of us for a pet, but wouldn’t let us actually reach out and touch her until a couple of days ago.  I think it was about last Thursday that I saw her playing with a chew toy for the first time—she was finally relaxed enough to actually play by herself!!!—and then, lo and behold, this morning she came over to my husband’s side of the bed for lovin’—she just wanted to be pet and loved, and then she went back to bed!

Peg has done such an incredible job gaining Paisley’s trust, I’m so very grateful too her.

Since these girls have become so close, they will be adopted together. Here’s their petfinder page:



Paisley, Pebbles and Holly

Something wonderful happened. Holly found a home during Homeward Trails Clear the Shelters event on Saturday, July 23. Her AC Miranda shared this with me the next day and said Holly was adopted so quickly, Miranda hadn’t even gotten there yet. Once the paperwork has been entered online, Miranda has promised to let me know who adopted Holly so I can contact them. I’m so happy for Holly. And so anxious to learn about her new family and how she’s doing!

And it turns out Paisley and her sister are not pregnant after all. When Paisley first came to us, I was surprised at how small her belly was. After a week, it was just as small. And she was hardly eating or drinking anything, very unusual for a pregnant dog. Except for enlarged nipples – which could have been from a previous pregnancy – she was showing no signs of pregnancy. And Peg who is fostering Pebbles had doubts about her being pregnant as well. I emailed Erin who’d originally sent out the note asking for a foster for Paisley and asked if a vet had confirmed Paisley’s pregnancy. Turns out a vet had examined both Paisley and Pebbles but didn’t have the equipment to do a scan. Because they each had enlarged nipples the vet said it was only possible they were pregnant.

So no puppies for Paisley, which is a good thing. While having puppies might have helped Paisley become more open and trusting thanks to the hormone oxytocin released in the bodies of mammals during labor and nursing, puppies born to extremely shy and anxious mothers are at greater risk of having behavior problems. A puppy’s first teacher is her mother. If a mother dog cowers in the bushes every time a person approaches or a car drives by her puppies learn those things aren’t safe. These puppies are more likely to be fearful and anxious themselves and even aggressive since fear is a common cause of aggression. If these puppies are carefully and thoroughly socialized there is an excellent chance they’ll become wonderful companions. But thorough socialization takes a lot of time and effort. Often owners don’t recognize how vital socialization is until behavior problems emerge later on. Unfortunately, correcting behavior problems is even more challenging than preventing them in the first place.

Paisley has made a little progress. When I enter the dog area, she rarely runs out the door to the side yard anymore and instead remains in her favorite corner. Sometimes she’ll even make eye contact with me when I approach her or pet her. Yet if Paisley is in the side yard when I come downstairs, she’ll hide behind the bushes and trot away from me if I approach. She’ll need to learn to come to me before I can work on important skills such as walking on a leash.

It’s pretty easy to teach a puppy or a confident older dog to come using treats. Shy dogs can learn to come too but it may involve breaking the skill into smaller steps. Paisley for example, was so fearful and anxious she wouldn’t eat a hot dog piece while I was nearby. Now that she’s willing eating a treat when I’m around, I can begin teaching her to target my hand. Given that she’s yet to sniff my hand I need to keep my expectations in check. It may be a while before Paisley is eating out of my hand.

Oh, and we’ve had a visitor this week, Pebbles.  I’ll write more about that soon!