Routines, Mistakes, and Steps Backward

This blog isn’t just about the positive experiences Callie or I have, but also about the negative ones, and the mistakes I make.

Over Thanksgiving, Callie did fantastic with some jumping around, first spending the night with us at my wife’s parents and the next night at mine. She was exhausted afterward from all the high energy activity, but happy. However, we learned that my brother-in-law on my wife’s side is allergic to dogs.

My mom and Callie
My mom and Callie

So for Christmas, we decided that Callie would spend the night with us at my parents on Christmas Eve and then she would stay again, without us but with my daughter and Nana (my mom) whom she adores.

My mom also has a rescue, Angie. A is young, about 2.5 now. My mom has had her for about a year and a half, and she has become fairly well adjusted. A is also a HIGH energy dog, very different than Callie and it took C a few visits to get used to Angie, but now they do well together.

Anyway, the point is we decided she would be ok spending the night without us at my parent’s house because it is a place she is relatively comfortable. Christmas morning was fun, even Callie had a blast. Then we took off midday.

When we picked her up Monday morning, around 11 am, we walked in the house, and my daughter was holding Callie in a position she knows she is not allowed. Callie gets uncomfortable and scared when G moves her too much, particularly when she keeps her upright like most dogs hate. Callie looked relieved to see us and desperate to be removed from my daughter’s arms.

My exhausted mother had run out of energy correcting G regarding Callie, understandably, as G was taking advantage of breaking every comfort and respect rule we had set in place.

Callie also spent the entire time on the couch because my mother was worried that Callie might pee. Callie occasionally has had accidents there, so it’s a fair concern, especially considering that she doesn’t want Angie to start peeing in the house. My mom felt like she was stuck.

We disengaged Callie from my daughter’s arms, assured her she would see C again on Thursday, ran a few errands and came home.

It doesn’t take much to throw any dog’s routine off, but for a rescue dog, especially a recently rescued one, those habits are critical.

Goal: Reclaim the Couch and Rest.
Goal: Reclaim the Couch and Rest.

My wife and I were both floored to discover that Callie had reverted to being incredibly fearful of being reached out to from above, to having her neck touched first, and to being picked up by us when she would ask to get on the couch. The sofa being the one place she seemed to want to be most, sleeping between us.

She didn’t lose her newly learned skill of sitting or waiting, she hasn’t stopped responding when she called to; but we broke her trust, she’s reverted back to her initial fears, and I think it’s because we weren’t there at night more than anything else.

I haven’t left Callie alone for extended periods of time. She hasn’t been without me for more than a few hours yet. Part of that is purposeful, Callie is intended as a potential therapy dog, particularly for myself, and part is situational. I work from home and don’t go many places for hours.

Right now, as we’ve only had her for two months, I feel a bit like an idiot. I’m not surprised that she is reacting this way. At the same time, I worry that in the future she still won’t be able to be without us.

My parents are my planned go-to dog sitters, and maybe it would have been better if my daughter hadn’t been there exhausting Callie, or maybe Callie is going to struggle with going back to her fears.

I’m stuck for the moment on this issue.

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