Reading that first post, you might reasonably surmise that we had lost our minds. I can just hear some readers muttering “That’s just crazy. Why didn’t they just give the dog back?” Well, maybe it was the sad story of how she was almost euthanized. But mostly, it was because even through all the ramped up energy, she showed us again and again how smart and trainable she was. I have never met a dog who looked so deeply at me and seemed to be waiting for me to tell it what to do. We believed she could be trained to be a better companion, but just felt completely overwhelmed and out of our depth. And the days started to get slightly better as Ziva began to understand our routine of daily life. She began to see that yes, we left her in the house, but yes, we always came back. We always used the same phrase:
“You stay here and take care of the house,”
and she started to be less manic when we left. It still took time time for her settle down when we returned home, but she would turn it down for short periods of time.
So those moments kept us going. She would sit on command but it was all she could do to stay still. We kept trying to walk her but it was so incredibly difficult to see another dog, or even other people. She would bounce as if she had springs in her legs and jump on anyone she met. The cats were still in hiding, mostly, slinking down the hallway when she finally closed her eyes, because if Ziva saw either one on the other side of the baby gate she would launch herself in their direction. As Zeke, the bolder cat, began to stand his ground a little bit more each time, we saw that Ziva was not in “prey mode,” but was just so freaking excited to see the cats that it was entirely overwhelming. These bits of progress, and the insight into her spirit when she finally settled down at night kept us going through the all the madness. She destroyed several t.v. remotes, a cell phone screen, and too many random things in the living room to count. She was wired and she was bored — until she crashed at night. She still slept in a crate in our bedroom at night, and went in quite willingly. She usually settled down once the lights were out and slept all night. This gave the cats the freedom to roam the house at night, and I think it gave them the confidence to stand up to Ziva over time.
To the question of “Why didn’t they just give the dog back?” That just really never entered my mind. If we also had children, or different jobs that took all our time, maybe we would have considered this option. But she just won our hearts, and despite a few stressed out conversations, it never got to “It’s me or the dog” because, well, belly rubs. Belly rubs are Ziva’s kryptonite.
We agreed to try a new trainer and see if we could get a handle on what was going on, and get Ziva to reach the occasional moments when she could just “chill.” After doing a little more research on the suggestions from the rescue group, I called one of the trainers, described the situation, and signed up for Basic Obedience 101. It went … not smoothly.
To be continued …