Monday, August 12, 2013

Nova Update!

Since I am stuck on the cell phone for blogging right now (ya know- sitting backstage at the theatre waiting for one of Kerri's cues) I thought it might be time for a little Nova update.
It has been almost 8 months since Nova was trapped behind the tire store, 9 months since her puppies died, and about 7 since she came here.  When I put it like that it is actually pretty amazing how far she has come.  Lets start with her health status right now.  For starters she finally has a full set of straight whiskers.  When she came here her whiskers were very curly and brittle.  If you pulled on them too hard they fell right out.  My personal theory on this is that she robbed her body of all fatty acids in order to develop the brains of her puppies.  She was eating mostly cockroaches and trash as far as I can tell.  In the last few months, for her pregnancy and maybe a bit before she was being thrown occasional food from the workers at the tire store.  I assume this meant dog food, but actually I am not entirely sure.  Even if it was dog food I am confident it was just the cheap stuff you can buy at the gas station.  No matter I bet it was not really enough to sustain healthy puppy growth.  A few months on a good diet of mostly local, mostly grass fed cattle and other critters, with a good dose of green lipped muscle oil for Omega 3s and she is like a different dog.  Smooth, soft coat just like Kerri, straight long whiskers and a healthy weight.  She is also now on a supplement for tendon support to help with her luxating patellas and poor structure.  The theory is that her joints did not form the best because of a combination of genetics and poor nutrition.  The good news is that now with this diet and supplements she is much more stable.  When before she was skipping once every 20 or so steps, now she goes whole days without me seeing a limp at all.  I am confident that there is no need for any surgical fixes in the near future.

As far as her behavior goes things keep going in a generally positive direction, or at least not going backwards.  She continues to excel at clicker training.  We have mastered sit, down, high five, touch and crawl.  She LOVES the clicker because it is something that is predictable, consistent and she has control over it.

Her relationships with people seems to be improving- but she still has trouble with Ben.  We are working on it, and it has been slow going.  I don't worry that she will bite him anymore, but every time he talks or moves around the house she starts barking/growling and goes on the defense.  I control this by crating her a good bit when we know it is going to happen and we can't deal with it.  When Ben is able to deal with it we have had to resort to the spray bottle.  First I tried spraying her for barking/attacking him but that made her very nervous.  We have settled on Ben spraying her.  I am not entirely sure how much good it is doing for her love of him- but she was getting to the point of actually attacking him and we needed to stop that at pretty much all costs.  It is impossible to live in a house with a dog trying to rip your legs up.  The more confident she gets about the house the more defensive she started getting with him, luckily the spray bottle has put that to an end here.

If anyone has any suggestions about dealing with selective human agression like this please let me know.  The answer however IS NOT "she hates men."  For some reason everyone I talk to is just *convinced* that I need to socialize her to more men.  If that is true explain our neighbors who she takes treats from, or her favorite person on the planet (a man).  The problem is not men, the problem is Ben.

Ben is really the last big hurdle we need to solve.  Other than trying to attack my husband at every turn Nova is a really fun dog to have around.  She is smart, cunning, funny, playful, smart, fun to teach and did I mention smart?  Her and Kerri are practically twins, sleeping together, playing together, acting the same- those two just crack me up.  I am hoping that once a year comes around we will be in a decent place.  The next big decision is when to start obedience class... would be good for her to get out but I don't want her to totally freak.

That bring us to our last issue.  Nova is getting bored and we all know what happens when smart dogs get bored.  It is extremely hot out and Copley and Kerri have been getting walks at higher elevations and on the treadmill.  Neither of those things are options for Nova because she is intensely scared of the treadmill and walks... well...  Before it got super hot out we worked on going on short walks  but I really can't get her much farther than the little park down the street right now.  I am happy with that- she is going a little farther every week and her level of comfort outside has gone up a lot, but it isn't exactly satisfying her need for stimulation.  In better weather we would be making a lot more progress but in 110+ degree weather we can only do so much.

If anyone has made it this far thanks for listening to my trials and tribulations as the owner of a feral dog.  Perhaps once this whole thing is done I should write a book about it. 

(Did I just say done?  That's funny.)


  1. We wish you all the best and we are sure with patience things will improve. Onwards and upwards and so far well done you. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. Annie, you are doing an amazing job! Sometimes the smallest hurdles are the best successes. All our best...Loki and Kathleen