(NOTE: This post was part of a previous domain and comments were not migrated over.) Can you believe today marks the six month Mister Gizmo came to live with us?! When I see him navigate the house like a nearly “normal” dog, pick through the (many, many…) puppy toy bins for a particular chewie, pop into the car for a ride – it’s nearly impossible to think he almost didn’t get these things. That he almost stayed, for life, Dog # 232. It warms and saddens my heart all at once.
They say it takes about 6-8 months for a mill survivor to become fairly normal – with what we expect to be double for Gizmo because of the extent of his emotional damage. Yet I feel like he is right around the corner from making even bigger milestones. You guys, he is doing SO WELL. There were absolutely moments in this journey so far where I thought, “Dear lord, what DID we add to our household!?” but I am so glad we did!
We don’t really fear bark anymore! We still like to lecture Sean – but more in play 🙂 Actually, since Sean does the laser pen game each night around 10 or 11pm – from 9pm on? Gizmo has decided Sean must be reminded of laser pen and will play bow, beep, and bounce around until it happens…. even if that’s like an hour away. We will grumble and bark really quick to tell newcomers that we want a wide berth while we check them out, but for the most part, he’s just a normal chatty Cathy!
He is really coming around on being touched – He loves his chin/ears to be scratched, so he after nightly laser pen (and you guys – you should see him wait for laser pen! the miiiiiinute we head upstairs for bed, he’s all wiggles and yips and bounces and then does his “best” to sit and wait patiently, but no sitting politely dog could possibly waggle more, his entire body vibrates), he comes up and does Socially Awkward Gizzy: The now patented creepy side stare, waiting for pets, while standing practically on our heads.
His progress in trusting men, and therefore Sean, is getting so much better. He’ll get excited and come over when Sean gets home, allowing occasional scratches, with the other dogs – all while wiggling, even if he chooses to stay about two feet away. We like to say Gizmo’s mouth might say anything, but his wiggle-butt tells the truth. 😉
He has a sweet tooth – or at least he thinks he does, since he doesn’t eat sweets. All my dogs are hopeful hover-while-you-eat-ers, Gizmo included. But for a dog who doesn’t like much human closeness, if I am eating anything with sugar while sitting on the loveseat, he will stand on top of me. Literally. Fears be gone! THERE WERE SKITTLES IN THERE! (Okay, first and last Hangover reference, promise).
We went to the vet for our annual vaccines! The idea of having to take Gizmo, who has only been to a vet once in his life, to get handled by staff for shots? Made me nauseous. New strange people? Scary. Touching him? Scary. With needles? Scary. Yet he proved me a needless spaz, as he waited in the front area like a champ – even sniffing a toddler because Bailey was! The staff was amazing with him and went sssslllooooowwwww with their movements and did minimal, super gentle touches. I totally sent them cookies after.
We celebrated by testing him in a large, bustling group for the first time today: We went to the Farmers Market! It has a very narrow sidewalk, so navigating that with three dogs and oodles of people meant Gizmo was forced to believe in himself (and us) in busy and unpredictable situations. He did really well – it was hot and so busy that it was just a little too crowded, so we only stayed about 15-20 minutes to pick up a few things, but he did pretty well. One little meltdown and I carried him for about a minute to “refresh”, but we were insanely proud.
We are on a long journey with the food bowl ever since his collar tags momentarily snagged between his bowl and it’s elevated stand many many months ago. We swapped out hanging tags with a slide-on tag to eliminate clinking hanging tag noise (which now FREAKS him out), which allowed us to move from hand feeding to eating out of a bowl that we hold. Eating from the bowl on his own is still too scary, but Sean has commandeered this project and is getting him ever so slowly back in the game. We did confirm it was the tags – and his rescue explained many mill dog’s tags get caught in their cages and they can be stuck for days, so I’ve no way of knowing if Gizmo experienced this same horrific experience – and even now, if his slide-on tag clinks the bowl somehow, he shoots back several feet and has to be coaxed to the bowl again. Poor bubba, we’ll get there.
We’ll just keep truckin’ with touching. We’re currently making progress on the fact feet, legs, and backs can be pet without The World Ending. 😉 He’s starting to believe us.
We are now working on more social activities to get him more comfortable with group settings, new people and more bustling situations. Go, Gizzy, Go!