Friday, January 30, 2015


It took 3 months, but we finally got the girls healthy - no more skinny-baninny bones sticking out, no more parvo or UTIs, just fat, sleek sneak thieves.

Being right in the trenches, it's hard for me to see the results of my literal blood, sweat, and tears, but the changes are incredible...

Mighty Midna

Zelda the Thieving Turd

Although the physical changes are easy to measure, their behavioral changes are a little more difficult to get a handle on. The girls are much more confident with me, but their socialization is... difficult. They hate strangers, especially men, and won't have anything to do with any of my social experiments, so we're changing tactics to work on their personal confidence first before moving up to meeting new people.

Spooky Midna wants no part of strangers... even if they offer her a Cheeto.

The Twins are endlessly curious. I think if you were to sequence their DNA, you'd find they're made of equal parts burning nosiness and skittishness. Their initial reaction to anything is fear - everything new is scary, and we must retreat and chuff at it from a safe distance. This includes: moving any piece of furniture in the house, mysterious piles of laundry that appear while being sorted, setting the groceries down in the kitchen floor, or random objects moving in a breeze.

One thing that we do to help the girls overcome fear of everyday things is to include them in household chores. They're comfortable enough with me to follow me around the house and investigate what I do, and only occasionally do they get spooked and tear off, leaving nothing but the sound of skittering toenails and the sporadic puddle of urine behind them.

Last night, the Twins helped me load up the dishwasher. This sounds pretty blasé, but realize this means I have multiple, unknown objects in my hand at any given time and stack them up in a big, cavernous box that opened up in a previously solid cabinet. Add in a fear of forks, and you understand why this is a big step for us.

I admit, I'm not a dog trainer. I don't know all of those fancy terms like R+ and R- (I made have made those up, in fact, I'm not sure), I just sort of muck about to find out what works and what doesn't work for my specific dogs. For Bast, who had a lot of confidence, it was a matter of getting him to remember he's a big boy and most of the world isn't out out to get him.

The girls have required me to reassess my strategies, because they've never had any confidence, and up to this point, the whole world HAS been out to get them. Getting them to understand I'm not going to hurt them and nothing in my house will intentionally hurt them, either, is taking some time.

I didn't realize it, but subconsciously, I must have reverted back to my meager experience handling horses growing up, because we've adopted a pattern of showing the girls various items, letting them approach it on their own terms, and then running the item across their bodies to let them see it doesn't hurt them, much like introducing young foals to leads and halters.

It makes sense now that I actually analyze it - the girls are more akin to unbroken horses than puppies, what with their intense curiosity and their tendency to flight before fight. Also, they leave giant prairie pies in the backyard, so they must be at least part pony.

Anyway, we did this song and dance while loading up the dishwasher, and although many of you out there will cringe thinking of me running my silverware across the back of a grody wolfdog, let me tell you, my standards for what is "gross" are nowhere near as high as they were before owning a wolfdog. Like first-time parents initially balking at changing a diaper, you just get over that.

Each item, I held out in front of me as an offering, and the skittering little phantoms came close, low and slinking, to cautiously put their noses against it and investigate. When they seemed sufficiently at ease, I let the object move from their noses to their faces, around the top and under their chins, until I could lift and remove it from their heads and they didn't flinch away. Then I put it away in the dishwasher, safe and innocuous, and we moved on to the next item.

As the girls learned that kitchen objects aren't as scary as they thought, I also learned which ones are much scarier than I thought. From my observations, I compiled Zelda and Midna's List of Scary-Ass Kitchen Utensils:

Forks - Kinda spooky at first, but then we remember they usually have food stuck on them. Pass.
Spoons - Ditto on the food particulates. Pass.
Knives - Dunno. Not allowed to lick these for some reason, but not overtly spooky. Pass.
Spatulas - Vague unease. Why are they so big? It doesn't have food on it. Why do you want this? Pass.
Whisk - Jesus wept, what the fuck IS THAT? WHY DOES IT HAVE SO MANY PARTS? IT'S... Oh, okay... It's got some sort of egg smell on it, that's pretty rad. Okay. We can deal.
Pie Server - No. Just no. There is no amount of delicious pecan pie stuck to that thing that will ever make it okay. Put it away. We won't come back until you do.

Our experiments in relative object spookiness will continue...

1 comment:

  1. Haha! Oh my goodness you're describing my house to a tee! Willow won't have me have a tub of butter in my hand - but the hoover...that's her best friend! I can't get my head around it! A single innocent leaf in the garden....all the hells NO! The hairdryer?? It's THE BEST THING since gravybones! ;)