Silver lifts his head from slumber and the look on his face changes in an instant. His face went from just being happy to see us home again to one of utter joy and excitement and happiness. He got up faster than I have seen him get up in a long time and went about the business of meeting his new canine friend. LOTS of behind sniffing and licking and…PLAYING! I didn’t realize how badly he had missed having another dog around with him until that very moment. It brought tears to my eyes. Freya, for her part was interested to meet him but a little leary after a while, because Silver DID NOT want to leave her alone. It was a combination for Silver of happiness to have her with us and the fact that she was still recovering from her spaying. Silver has always had a nose for injury and her healing spayed area drove him nuts. He just wanted to lick her until she was completely healed. She LOVED playing with him but got a little annoyed and freaked out after a while with the constant attention from him. Here was this huge stranger pestering her ALL the time! LOL!!!
The 1st few weeks, Silver played with Freya as much like a puppy as possible. The new has worn off now and Silver is back to being a tired, gimpy 15 year old proud dog. He is still happy to have her here but warns her when she is being too playful. His bones are old and tired and I don't blame him. I take up the slack in the play department. We run around outside and all over the house. We play games that involve alot of running and touching her nose to stuff and chasing balls. She is good at finding hidden stuff too.
I showed her the doggie toy box and she was over joyed. She couldn't believe for the longest time that they were all for her to play with. Freya couldn't decide which one she wanted to play with 1st. LOL!!!! The Kong or the Giggly Wiggly ball or the different textured tennis balls or the treat cubes or the Kong bar bell or the knotty rope toy. She LOVES to hide her rawhide bones and chew flips. I find them on chairs, behind sofa cushions, under the dog bed in the living room, in my flower pots, under chairs. EVERYWHERE! LOL!! Now it is like having a toddler in the house. Toys strung from one end of the house to the other. A Kong on the stairs, the knotted rope toy on the floor in the kitchen, bones on the couch, Giggly Wiggly ball in the living room. We go through every night and pick them up and put them back in the toy box and she always has to pick 2 back out. Funny girl!
Her face has changed in the 2 months she has been with us. Yes, she has gained weight and gotten more healthy but it goes deeper than that. When we 1st met her, I didn't know what her persoanl body language was saying. When she looked at me, it was with no special connection. No love or animosity, just curiosity and slight nervousness becasue we were strangers. I looked at her and saw a mystery. Now, after 2 months, her face has gained a little more trust, more openness toward me and her surroundings. She looks at me with something that is starting to be love.
Now on to the cats and Freya. She is not as mellow with the cats as I had hoped she would be yet. She was in foster care with a large Chocolate Lab puppy that she played with and had fun with. I don't think she wants to eat the cats, she just wants to play. Our cats are 18 and 15 years old. They DO NOT want to play. Unless she is in an over stimulated mood, she will just chase one of the cats and then take her 2 front teeth and sort of nibble on their skin, like she is trying to pick him up to carry them around. That is really what it looks like to me. She brings her toys to the cat and puts them down by him sometimes as if to ask him to play. Of course the cat looks at her like she is nuts. LOL!!! That is what makes me think that Freya doensn't want to harm the cat, just play with the cat. PLUS there have been times that the cat AND Freya are both sleeping on the dog bed in our room. It is a weird relationship right now.
She is also mouthy at times. She is getting better about that too. When she gets too mouthy, we enclose her in the living room by herself with the doors closed. She REALLY doesn't like being away from every one and contained in a place where she can't have her nose into eveything. She is getting better on that too. I questioned before about who's dog she would be. I think she has attached herself mostly to me all though she really likes every one. My husband is gone for 48 hours once a week so I am the primary person home all the time plus I am the food and treat giver. She DOES do this Snoopy/Tigger running bounce thing when hubby comes home that is funny and crazy. She is SOOOO excited to see him. I think she just wants the whole "pack" to be together the way we should be. LOL!!!!! When we are all in the house, she keeps an eye on every one but mostly hangs out with me, sleeping by my feet or following me around "helping me" take laundry to the basement or do dishes or cook dinner. Don't know if she follows me primarily because I now have treats in my pocket all the time to reward good behavior, ie...NOT chasing Taliesen, NOT barking at my study door and sitting for me instead, or does she follow me because she is most attached to me. Doesn't really matter because she is a family dog but it is interesting to watch all of our relationships develop. I think she gets jelouse of the other pets and our other dog at times. She will sometimes nip at Silvers ears when I am petting him which causes Silver to tell her to back off, but she achieves her purpose in the fact that we have to stop petting Silver. Not all the time, but sometimes. I think part of her cat chasing is the same reason because the cat gets the ultimate human closeness becasue he can sleep on the bed with mom and dad. I have been giving her "time out's" when she gets that way with Silver and then go back and give Silver extra attention. The time out's seem to help with this. She is smart. She is starting to learn that when she gets rude with Silver, she gets seperated for a little bit from the rest of the house hold. I have begun working on not only rewarding the good behavior and energy but have been experimenting with non-verbal communications. The other day, she was getting over stimulated and mouthing my hand and leg and shoes. I as frustrated with her and I formed a mental image of how her behavior seemed to me. (Aggressive, attacking, scary) She IMMIEDIATELY stopped, licked my hand and sat down nicely. I was shocked and happy. I am going to work on these mental word pictures more. I have done it a few times now and it has seemed to work. I was upstairs and Freya was down stairs. I focused on the image of her face and thought that I wanted her upstairs, sitting by me. With in seconds, she came bounding up the stairs and sat by my feet as if I had verbally called her. I KNOW she is trying to assert herself but even more, I think she is just trying to be the "top" dog so that she won't have to leave. I tell her that she isn't going anywhere. I tell her that she will some day be the elder statesperson and that if we bring in a young dog, we will accord her the same respect that Silver has earned. She is SOOO bright and so smart and can be cute but not in that snuggly, lick your face sort of way. She brings her toys and drops them in my lap if she wants to play or if she wants to keep her bone or toy "safe". She lays on my feet and looks at me in such a way of total surrender and affection at times. It just melts my heart. Her occassional need to be close to me warms my heart. Her exhuberance and excitement really tickles me. She is starting to realize that there WILL be more chew flips and treats and food and toys. She is beginning to realize that Mom has enough love for everyone and that if she is polite, she gets alot more tummy rubs and behind the ear rubs and treats for being a good house mate. She is starting to realize that if she plays with us in a way we like with out mouthing, we play longer. It has only been about 2 months and we have made some good progress in the integration process. We have a long way to go though before our house is totally smooth running again. I really DO love the toys every where and the excitement she gets from playing with every single one of hers. She seems more of a seeker Shepherd where as my others seem more like herding dogs to me. I LOVE when we play the target training game. A few times a day I will make sure the cat is sleeping safely away and Silver is sleeping out of the way and get the game going. I choose one of her balls generally and start the game. I point to the top of the stairs and tell her "Go, Touch". She will run up the stairs and touch her nose to the top stair. She sits and waits for my next command. Then I tell her "Freya, Door, Touch" and she runs and jumps full speed down the stairs, into the great room, touches the door with nose, comes back to me and sits, waiting. We do this several times and then I add the ball to the mix. As she is running, I throw the ball and she will either catch it in her mouth or run after it, and then touch the target. We have even added her jumping and touching my open hand with her nose as she is running. We don't play the game for long at any one time but play it a few times a day. She and I sort of came up with it together and she seems to enjoy it. She always has a huge grin on her face as she is waiting for me to tell her to go again. She seems much more mellow with the cat and with Silver when we are done with our game. Any way, this has been a long blog but there is always so much going on when a new member joins an established family structure. My father in-law was right I think when he said that given a year of training and working with her, she will be a perfect family companion for a very long time. He just loves her energy and how bright and affectionate with out licking she is. So do I. I won't say there aren't moments that I wonder what I got myself into because there have been but more and more we are all getting to know each other better and all learning how to communicate in such a way that we are becoming a fully integrated family. Freya is slowly learning that she IS home and that even when she misbehaves by chasing the cat or getting Silver going, she might get time out but then she will get love and affection after that time out. I love her and she has challenged me to think outside of my own comfortable box to look at the sources of some of her behaviors from a fresh perspecitve for fresh ways of re-directing the energy, emotions and behaviors. She now looks at me not only with curiosity and affection but also something that looks like trust to me. Any thoughts, questions or suggestions are encouraged and might prove to be useful in continuing to build a healthy and happy relationship with our newest energetic and beautiful fur girl.