Monday, October 6, 2008

Pick Pocket

Oh Pickle...where do I begin? Well, my boyfriend and I decided that maybe Cooper would like a friend. I have always wanted a black and tan shiba and we found a breeder that had a few available in Jewell, Iowa. My boyfriend was moving from West Des Moines out to Denver and we decided to buy a pup before he made his move. We got Pickle at 6 months of age; we thought an older puppy would be more appropriate for us since Cooper's mellowed out and we didn't want to stress him with a young pup. Also, he would immediately get neutered and that greatly helps with potty training.
Alas, in deciding to get Pickle, I had to trust the judgement of my boyfriend when he went to pick out the dog. We agreed on a male about six months of age that was a little on the submissive side. That was the easy part. When he went to pick out the puppy, he wasn't able to "tour the facility" and only met Pickle's mom. I have reservations when it comes to looking around to see how the dogs are kept. Also, the breeder bred several other breeds of dogs including poodles, huskies, carin terriers, and I think that's it. I thought it sounded like a puppy mill of sorts. Anyway, poor little Pickle's first experience off the farm was a 10 hour car trip from Iowa to Denver. When he got to my place, the poor little guy refused to look at me. When we introduced him to Cooper he perked up a bit but once we got them inside the house, Pickle sat in a corner and didn't move, look around, anything. Cooper got a little territorial because he's been an only "child" since we brought Pickle home. The first night Pickle spent in Cooper's kennel and didn't make one sound.
Now, at 10 months of age, Pickle has a ton of social problems we're working with. I believe that he was kept kenneled all day when he lived in Iowa and had very few encounters with people. He freaks out when he sees someone; running in circles and defecating or peeing. When we take him out for walks he constantly circles in a clockwise direction; never counter-clockwise. He's fine with other dogs but when he meets people he just freaks out and can't calm down. I've had friends, strangers, vets, you name it, try to make him feel comfortable by not directly staring at him and letting him sniff them but he refuses to do it. When we have company over, he runs and hides in his kennel. Since we moved to the suburbs from downtown Pickle has had less encounters with people and I wish I could get him out there. We're going to enroll him in puppy classes to see if this will help. He's smart; he just has interaction issues. His constant circling makes it almost impossible to walk next to him without tripping on him and we have tried harnesses, a gentle leader, keeping the leash longer, shorter, somewhere in the middle, and even walking him with two collars and leashes with one person on either side of him. Nothing really helps. However, the circling has become a lesser occurance since we got him in July so I believe we're making progress.
Besides his circling and fear of humans, Pickle is an overall good dog. He is a very quick learner and bascially copies everything Cooper does. He loves to cuddle and will squeeze his way between Corey and me when we're on the couch or in bed. He was a little hard to house train but we expected that. Pickle seems to be fascinated with TV and will watch TV with us for hours on end. Once he started trusting us, his personality just bloomed. He's very playful, happy, and so eager to please. I think he appreciates his new life with us compared to the hell he had to live through in Iowa. He has the stinkiest breath and no matter how much we brush them or give him this anti-tartar stuff, his breath smells like dead and rotting animals. The vet says his PH balance is off and he has a lot of tartar build up so we'll have to get his teeth professionally cleaned every year.
He loves Cooper. I don't know what he would do if Cooper wasn't around for a day. He follows him around like an adoring younger brother which annoys Cooper. Pickle wants to be as close as possible to Coop but Cooper doesn't allow that. But, it is so cute to watch them play together; tackling and running after the same toys. Pickle's more assertive than Cooper and will yank toys out of Cooper's mouth. Cooper doesn't know what to make of this and will usually just make angry noises.
I'm hoping with time and some training, Pickle can start to trust humans and not be deathly afraid of them. So far, we're making slow but steady progress.

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