Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong (shadesong) wrote,
Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong

Towards a More Pettable Dog

So we adopted Nicodemus in late December. Full story here, but the info you need is that he was a stray for some undeterminable amount of time and had all the puppy PTSD you'd expect. He bonded hard to me and Elayna, and very much wanted no part of anyone else; it took him about a month to get comfortable with Adam, even. And... he was not a pettable dog. Which was a sadness, because I wanted to snuggle him! He did curl up next to me from the very beginning - his natural position = pressed against my thigh, when I'm sitting on the couch. He'd just tense and snap if anyone tried to pet him. So we had to sit back and let him adjust, let him start feeling safe enough.

About a month ago, he finally started to ask for very brief pets - tiny whine, hopeful look, his paw tugging at my forearm. Still, one or two pets and he was visibly Done.

And then came last weekend's party.

Nick's progress has been measured in a bunch of way. His growing food security (he used to wolf down all available food instantly, not trusting that he'd get fed again; now he nibbles over the course of the day), his comfort with other people being in the house (oh man he was super defensive for the first few months! but now he settles down quickly, ceasing the barking in the first few minutes), and, as the party showed, his comfort with large numbers of people in his space.

The last time I had a bunch of people over, he was visibly tense, and I had to be vigilant lest someone try to pet him or pick him up.

This time?

He played with people through the entire party.

Guests realized that he loves it when you throw his Boba Fett for him! At one point he had a three-person game of fetch going on. Oh, and he actually plays fetch now - rather than getting toy-defensive and hunkering over Boba, snapping when you try to get it? As of Saturday, he brings Boba back to the person who threw it, drops it at their feet, and does not snap or charge when they pick it up.

This is all huge. PTSD pup feels safe, not just in normal household situations, but in loud parties with lots of people, many of them strangers. He played for hours. He snuggled and licked people he'd just met. It was amazing. <3

And that, I think, flipped a switch in him - because now he loves being petted. I first discovered this when I was putting his leash on and he clearly demanded headskritches. Nicky, who used to snap at being touched at all, is feeling safe enough to plop his throat down into my hand.

So many skritches this week. <3

I know eight months seems like a long time, but for stray/probably abused animals, it's really not. He's made huge progress in leaps and bounds, and continues to do so - he had his first dog park experience Sunday, too, and was safe and happy with a bunch of new dogs in a new environment!

So I just want to thank everyone who's been part of helping Nicky realize he's in a safe, stable, and loving place. People who were kind and patient with him during his first outing at Arisia right through people who played with him last weekend. Everyone who gave him time and space and told him he was a good boy. Thank you. It's working. <3
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