♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUHAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU HAPPY BIIIIRRRTHDAY DEAR BASILHAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪
Sweet Basil is celebrating her GOLDEN birthday today! She turned 5 years old on 5/5!
Before anything else, Basil would like to give a HUGE shout out to her buddies Riley (former foster brother Riley 11-358) and Teddy and major thanks to them for the Spring Fling carrot! She feels so special and can't wait for a play date in their private dog park! Happy spring to you two (and your mom and dad) also!
Basil has had a good month - she continues to come out of her shell and grow more and more each day. Here are some examples:
She now plays with toys on a regular basis! This is a milestone! For the longest time, she would only pick up a bone but would look at other toys like "what on earth are those and what am I supposed to do with them?" Now, after watching the resident dogs constantly playing with them, she decided to join in and boy is she enjoying them! She just LOVES to carry the soft toys around in her mouth and then rip them apart into little pieces!
We have been going to some of the adoption events to help her get used to new faces and new places and she is taking it in stride. They are a little overwhelming for her and she spends a good chunk of the time hiding behind me or under my chair, but she is getting more and more brave and will cautiously sniff people's hands and let them pet her. She very briefly approached another volunteer on her own once too! Of course, treats also help :) If you come to meet her at an event, know that her behavior there is typical of how she reacts in new situations with new people, but it is not typical of her behavior at home with the people she knows and trusts. Here are a couple pictures of Basil at some recent events (thanks to Devon TT and Angie M for the photos!):
Basil is starting to let the "kid" in her come out now and then! In the 7.5 months she's been with us, she has never once played with the other dogs. She definitely needs them around to build her confidence, but she won't actually play with them. We have three young dogs (puppy, 1 yr, and 2 yrs old) so they are a constant rough and tumble, roll around, gnashing teeth ZOO, and she just watches. The other day - albeit VERY briefly, like a millisecond - Basil appeared to have MAYBE started giving chase to the puppy! It was so quick, I can't even be sure that's what it was, but hey, I'm still going to call it progress! And just last night, I went to run a couple errands and was gone for only about an hour, but I came back and she was so darn excited she got the zoomies and started galloping around down the stairs and outside and ran in a few circles! When she ran back inside, she was running so fast, she went sliding across the floor and tripped over herself, but she just got right up with the biggest smile on her face! Which, of course, puts an even bigger smile on my face when I see that and think of how just 7 months ago, she wouldn't even smile at all and creeped along the ground afraid of everything!
Another happening that is a sign of progress: when puppy mill dogs first come to a new place, we always have to be extremely careful of making sure they are securely leashed. You've probably read several of the stories of the Missouri bunch that was rescued a little over a month ago and noticed that many of them were wearing two collars and trailed leashes even in the house and fenced yards. That's because puppy mill dogs will bolt if something scares them and since they don't know or trust people yet, they won't come back. As they get more comfortable and learn to trust their humans, they can be given a little more freedom - they should still always be leashed outside the house and fenced yard of course in case something does scare them, but we no longer have to wear two collars or keep the leash on inside the house or fenced yard. This is where Basil is at. Yesterday, I took Basil to work with me and as we were leaving, I was unlocking the car door and I thought I was pressing the "unlock" button on the key fob, but I accidentally hit the "panic" button. Well as you can imagine, that surprised Basil (surprised me too!) and freaked her out, and she snapped the leash out of my hands. She practically leaped in the air and 5 feet away, then cowered with her tail between her legs. Now, thankfully, we were in a pretty remote area so I wasn't too worried about the immediate danger of other cars and I had the treat pouch attached to my hip, so I just spoke to her softly and offered her some treats and she came right back to me. I tell you this story, not because I think she has good recall and doesn't need a fence, but because it shows that she has learned to trust me. If this had happened 7 months ago, (although 7 months ago I would have been more careful not to let something like that happen), she probably wouldn't have come back to me, not even for a treat. The fear would have been too strong for a treat to entice her to come to someone she doesn't know and trust. But now, she has learned that there are people she can trust, that I will always be there for her, and that she can always come to me even if something makes her afraid. That's not to say that she immediately wasn't afraid anymore, she was still shaking for a few minutes, but she came to me for comfort. That's sure progress.
And perhaps one of the biggest signs of progress - she is learning to be in the crate by herself! We started her on an anti-anxiety med that helps calm her down a bit and "take the edge off" and have been working on getting her used to being crated by herself. First, we started by putting all the dogs in separate crates next to each other, while I sat down nearby so Basil could see me. I read on the iPad right in front of Basil so that she could still see me and periodically gave her treats so that she would get comfortable in the crate by herself. Once she was okay with that, I would go about my usual routine and leave for a bit, never making a big deal about my departure or return. I started small (2 minutes) and gradually increased the time I was gone as she was comfortable. That hour I mentioned earlier that I was gone, she was crated by herself, so she's making progress! We still crate her with another dog if we have to be gone for a longer period, but this is a good sign that hopefully she will eventually be able to be crated by herself (or maybe she will be okay with free roam eventually, but I haven't tried that yet). She will still need a home that can crate her with another dog, as I would expect that she may regress when she moves to a new home and her adoptive family will probably need to start over working with her on this, but I promise that I will work with her adoptive family long after the adoption to help you with this process so that she can acclimate into her new home.
A couple weeks ago, a very nice lady drove all the way from Iowa with her dog to come meet Basil! On paper, it was a great match and I was very excited that Basil might have found her forever home. They met and all went well, but the "spark" just wasn't there and we decided it wasn't the right fit. I think both of us were bummed out at first, but it was the right decision, and that just means that there is someone out there that is a PERFECT fit! Could it be you? Let your placement advisor know if you would like to meet Basil! She's waiting!