Friday, June 14, 2013

Socalizing a Puppy- In Slow Motion

There are no books or resources out there about rehabilitating a dog like Nova.  Everything about dogs who are total wrecks talk about teaching them to trust AGAIN.  Helping a dog who was failed by people, abused, who LOST her owners, who was ABANDONED by people.  Or a dog who was LOCKED UP in a puppy mill by people, or who was STARVED by someone.

Nova can not learn to trust AGAIN when she did not do it in the first place.  She didn't LOOSE people, she never had them.  To be ABANDONED you need someone to abandon you.  Being STARVED implies it was done to her, she was starving because she was on her own.  It was a state of being not something a person imposed on her.

I grasped at straws when we got her.  I tried to read more books, talk to every dog trainer in my life (and in my circles there are quite a few) and while they were helpful to a point- no one had a real solution.  This has been a learn as you go process for everyone.  Nova must feel like she was abducted and is now on an alien planet.  All she knew was living on the streets, eating cockroaches, doing all she could to survive.  While we do not really know what happened to her as a puppy I strongly suspect she was either born on the street, or dumped there at 8-12 weeks.  How does such a little puppy survive out there like that?  If you met Nova you would know.  She is smart, cunning (a trait I previously thought dogs were not capable of), strong, brave and resilient.  That is what makes me so sad about her puppies- she must have tried so hard to keep them alive.  I try not to anthropomorphize dogs, so I really don't think I am by saying this- but loosing that battle had to have been hard for her.  But for all that hardship there was no abuse.  She has no memories of bad people.  So often it is a struggle for me.  

Do I push her in this situation?  Do I hold back in that one?  From a training standpoint it is not exactly easy to make a game plan here.  That is until I figured it out.  I am socializing her for the first time.  I don't need to get rid of bad habits and experiences- for the most part I need to just add new ones!  As far as living in the human world she is a blank slate.  So I am going about socializing a puppy.  Just in SSSSLLLLLOOOOOWWWWWWW motion.  Her brain is developed, so she is not as open to new experiences as a puppy is, but she is young, and for the most part game for new things, so there you go.  Since gaining this new perspective Nova has made leaps and bounds.  In my next post I will get into what exactly we are doing with her.


  1. Good luck with little Nova!


    PS: Yes, that's an XXS Ruffwear Webmaster harness in Twilight Grey! I love it so much. It fits Nola perfectly. She's 9lbs, with an 11" neck and a 16" girth. It can go from 13" to 17" in girth. Here you go:

  2. We wish you and Nova well and we look forward to hearing about your adventures together. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. That is wonderful you are embracing the project of filling that little package up with good experiences to draw from. Look forward to hearing more about the process.