Introducing Momma's Girl Millicent TT, CGC. She is the heart (and the boss) of the house. She's the reason why I started training dogs and the reason why I know so much about them and their behavior. We've been through thick and thin together and she's worth every cent and every minute I've put into her.
Millie. Where do we start with Millie? Way back when she was a puppy. This girl has literally taught me everything I know about dogs. She was a troubled young soul when I got her. 8 weeks old and a monster to have in the house. To date, Millie's destroyed 7 couches, 2 wall-to-wall rugs, a linoleum floor, 18 pairs of shoes, countless books, CDs & DVD's about 4,000 pens and hundreds of other small items.
But that was in the past and I'll tell you how we worked through it. First, once I realized there was a serious problem, not normal puppy hood behavior, I went straight to the best. Dr. Nicholas Dodman is known throughout the world as one of the best animal behaviorists of all time. After waiting 6 weeks for an appointment and going through a 2 hour consultation (along with the 20 page questionnaire I filled out), he diagnosed her with severe separation anxiety. SA isn't something to sneeze at and even though it's thrown around like water these days, it's a very real disorder, but also very treatable.
My job once I had the diagnosis was to work with her to get through it. This involved doggie prozac and a beta blocker for about 8 months to a year along with 2 years of obedience training and tons of desensitization. Millie couldn't handle being left alone (without a human, Skootchie was always with her) and her tiny little brain wasn't firing properly. She was destructive to say the least, and at the worst of it, was chewing holes in her legs because she couldn't handle it.
I took her to at least a dozen training classes, each 6 weeks long. I carried treats with me everywhere and treated her for the littlest thing done right. I learned as much as I could about dogs, their behavior, calming signals, body language and their thought process. We were constantly out and about getting her used to behaving properly in the world. I desensitized the heck out of her by putting on my coat and watching TV. Picking up my keys and feeding the dogs. Getting ready for work at the normal time on a Sunday. Changing my schedule so I did normal heading-out-the-door things at the most bizarre times, to name just a few.
Why would I bother doing all of this work, you ask? Because Millie was a dog I adopted (funnily enough from the same shelter that said I would be cruel & inhumane!) and said I would take care of for the rest of her life. I don't believe in throwing away responsibilities once the going gets tough. I think it may tie in with being taught morals, who knows. But anyway, this was a dog that needed help and getting rid of her wasn't an option in my mind.
So I did everything the good Dr. recommended and years later, I have this wonderful, loving, well-behaved dog that worships the ground I walk on. She is no longer destructive to either herself or my house. She still has a few quirky things about her, I can't leave a pen on the table as she still loves ripping apart that soft plastic. She's not always nice to other dogs on first greeting, but I know her body language well enough that I can change her focus before it becomes an issue. It's rare for me to get her in a crate but it's no longer needed like it was back then.
She truly is my 'daughter' in every sense of the word. I look at her, her tail wags, and my heart smiles.Oh so corny! but true. :)