Bruce has continued to take baby steps over the past few weeks, but we're so happy to see his confidence building even if it is slow going.
Bruce has become very comfortable with his crate. It's definitely his safe spot and the place that we can find him much of the time. We leave the door open throughout the day, and he'll go in or come out as he pleases. If anything startles him or makes him nervous, he retreats to the crate but will usually come out again in a short period of time.
He has also become much more comfortable going through the doorway to get outside. For some reason getting him to come back in through the doorway has proved to be more difficult. Sometimes he'll come right on through and other times he looks in through the window to let us know he's ready, but when we open the door he retreats and circles around.
He might do this several times before he works up the courage to come back through. But thankfully Foster Dad doesn't have to carry him in and out anymore.
Since he seems to find comfort there, Bruce sleeps in his crate at night. He has made progress in sleeping through the night, though he still does wake up relatively early (by 6:00 a.m. most days). He lets us know he's ready to get up by whining but will bark and paw at his kennel door if we don't respond in a reasonable amount of time.
As soon as he hears us coming the thump, thump, thump of tail starts. Morning is absolutely Bruce's happiest and most enthusiastic time of day. Open the door and he comes bounding out wanting all of the attention. This is when we get to see Bruce be playful: chasing squeaky toys that are tossed for him, flipping on his back so we'll rub his tummy, chewing on bones, and running around the yard.
On a recent morning Foster Dad watched as Bruce ran around outside tossing his toy in the air and really just looking so much like a happy pup. It brings us so much joy to see Bruce learning how to have the confidence to play.
We have learned that Bruce is quite mischievous and very stealthy. Socks, mittens, hats, towels, washcloths, and of course squeaky stuffed animals are his favorite items to steal. He moves ever so quietly, grabs it very gently with his front teeth and retreats to his kennel to hoard them all. If one of our resident dogs starts to play with a toy, Bruce will grab it and take it to his kennel. Thankfully, he has a very gentle mouth, he hasn't yet chewed on these items and he shows no aggression when we retrieve the items from his kennel.
When we decorated our Christmas tree, Bruce quickly developed an interest in many of the decorations hanging on the lower branches. We cleared the lower branches, and his fascination went away. It was like having a toddler around again!
While morning tends to be Bruce's active time, the rest of the day he's pretty chill. While we're at work, he'll play here and there if our daughter sits in the living room with him while doing homework. He lies at my feet while I'm working in the evening or on his bed if we're watching a show.
Bruce is really a great dog and is learning to trust and find his confidence more and more each day, but the reality is that he is still very fearful in many ways. When the weather turned really cold a few weeks ago, the storm door had frozen shut and popped as it was opened. We struggled to get Bruce through the door for the next few days.
When it snowed last week, Bruce went outside but wanted to come right back in when the noise from our neighbor's shovel scraping across the driveway scared him.
For Christmas my mother-in-law stayed with us for a few days and my mom came over to eat with us. Bruce chose to stay in his crate much of the time and was pretty quiet even for him, but overall, he did ok. He eventually did a little bit of sniffing in their general direction but didn't approach them at all, and that's ok. We've already noticed that he is coming out more now that the house is quiet again.
Bruce spends pretty much all of his time either in our living room or kitchen/dining room. He has ventured down the hall to the bedrooms a few times in the early morning when his confidence is up (or he just likes to move under the cover of darkness) or when coaxed very, very slowly to move in that direction, but he doesn't choose to go there even if that's where his people are.
Bruce has not yet tackled the stairs nor has he walked on a leash. We've tried but he freezes when the leash attached to his collar is picked up. We tried a harness, but he froze with that as well, so we'll keep working on it ever so slowly.