I am sorry to report that I recently lost Monty. But after deciding to save a life, I just brought home my two-year-old Maltese/Schnauzer (Mauzer). As a dedicated planner, I had a definite vision that ranged from testing command knowledge during the initial meeting to initiating a full trick-training regimen when I took him home. Tricks? Really? Even though I knew upfront that Charlie is a timid dog, I had no idea what that really means. His antics will clearly provide me with endless fodder for blogs. Let’s start with how planning is nice, but flexibility is better.
The first meeting
The wonderful rescue organization I chose really spent the time needed to provide me a clear picture of the dog I considered adopting. But when I first met this timid dog, it was all we could do to get him to acknowledge my presence, much less show me the commands he knew. Eventually, I picked him up, and he instantly settled in – not necessarily because he adored me, but because I became his human security blanket.
Why did I go ahead with the adoption? Well, Charlie had been at the rescue center for about a month, and in spite of his adorable face, nobody had adopted him. The people at the center believed my single-person household would provide the security he needed to come out of his shell. I took him because I believed I was his only chance to find a forever home.
Training a blank slate
Granted, Charlie is not exactly a blank slate – he has lots of negatives to get over after coming from a questionable background that might have involved hoarding, which means little trust for humans. So, contrary to plan, I have to teach him the basics, such as the following:
- Peeing is good (preferably outdoors). You don’t have to hold it for 24 hours.
- Pooping more than once every few days would be awesome.
- Your name is Charlie.
- You’re safe with me.
- I always come back, even if I leave the house for a little while.
- Escaping from the roof of your crate is not an option, especially since you’re supposed to be crate-trained.
Sit and stay and the other basic commands are future dreams for me. Surprisingly, he seems to be learning to heel, mostly because he’s pretty much glued to me when we walk, and I say “heel” and “good heel!” a lot. But since we’ve been walking miles each day, I figure that’s still a good thing.
Miles to go with no reward in sight
Charlie is not food-driven. He’s also not toy-driven. I’m not sure if he’s even praise-driven, and the vet says he might just be love-driven. Right now, I’m counting on encouragement from friends to keep me from giving up. If you have any experiences with highly-timid dogs who respond differently and unpredictably to the same situations, I’d be thrilled to hear what you have to share. You might even get a starring role in a future blog!