My Dog Molly: The Paradox

A girl's discovery about her dog and herself.


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the girl is alright

Eek. It’s been a few weeks. If it helps matters I thought about what my blog entry would be every day for the last week. 🙂

Anyway, as you can tell by the title of this entry “the girl is alright.” Molly is doing pretty well. I’m actually a little in awe about the change in her in just a few months versus what we’ve been challenged with the last two years. More progress has been made since July than I could have ever imagined. While I’m sure some of it is age and maturity for my Molly-girl but there are some behavioural shifts.

There’s a path I always liked to take Molly on out in the badlands where I could let her romp through the tall grass and over the hills. But there was always a part of me that was afraid to take her out there. Other people take their dogs there occasionally and it is a known hangout for coyotes and deer–but only at certain times of day. And given that Molly would often ignore my calls for her return I was hesitant to take her there too often. This afternoon, however, I thought I’d give it a try.

For the first half of the trail I kept her on leash and things were pretty good. We did come across a puppy and Molly only did a little prance until the puppy started barking at her…then she barked back. But that’s a step forward. Once we reached a more isolated part of the trail (and when I knew for certain no one was around) I let her off leash and held my breath.

What was fabulous about the next 40 minutes was that Molly stayed within 20 feet of me at all times; she came the moment I called, and even sat on command when ahead of me on the trail. She was almost like a different dog. The last time I took her on this trail she was running so far ahead she would ignore my calls, lop over hills and disappear out of site. It made me nervous. Tonight, however, was a break through. Of course there were no other four legged distractions to tempt fate but that’s okay…it was nice to have some success.

So here’s my girl after her romp through the badlands…a little muddy but so happy…

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This evening we sit back and watch some tele by the fire.

Happy day indeed.


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it hurts me more than it hurts you

One of the pieces of advice Molly’s behaviourist, C., gave me was to kennel train Molly. I didn’t admit to her that when I got M she was familiar with the kennel and we used is for several of her first evenings and days she was with me. But she hated it. I had to pull and push her into the hard plastic container. So the idea of putting her through that didn’t appeal to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the need to kennel train a dog. I often see M. crawling in behind the sofa or into a dark tight corner to nap. The den concept rings true. But I’m a sucker for puppy eyes and the look she used to give me when I put her in that cage would break my heart.

Putting my own issues aside I went to my favourite pet store in the city and plunked down some cold hard cash for a new large cage-like kennel. Molly came to me with a kennel but it is one of those hard plastic-one-entrance-difficult-to-see-out-of contraptions. That wasn’t going to happen. I got M. a huge cage-like structure with two entrances. Then I bought a memory foam bed to lay at the bottom with several blankets. If I had to kennel her it was going to be in the lap of luxury.

Molly avoided the structure the first day it went up. Well, that’s not quite right. She sniffed around it and then turned to me with a skeptical look on her face and then turned and walked away. Then I started to only give her treats in the kennel. Leaving the gate open I’d tell her to “Go to your room”, have her lay down and then give her the threat. All to convince her it was a good place.

The “room” has been up for a week now and I’ve placed a blanket on the top of it so it’s more ‘den-like’. I haven’t been forcing her in, or locking the gate, but letting her explore it on her own. Then, last night, she walked into the room on her own, fluffed up the bed and blankets and lay down for a nap. I almost let out a ‘yelp’ of joy I was so proud but I’m trying not to make a big deal of it. This strategy seems to be working because she’s in there now sound asleep in her room on this rainy Sunday evening while I watch a special on Holyroodhouse, sipping tea, and sitting next to a cozy fire.

All is happy in my heart right now.

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A Walk In The Park

Today me and Molly took a walk in the park with her behavourist, C. Words can’t describe how nice it is to have someone see the potential in your reactive pup so much that she is willing to come for a walk with you once a week to assess your progress and give tips.

We talked a lot about the aggressive methods I was taught and why those haven’t worked with Molly–which helped me understand why we are where we are. And then there was much discussion about me setting more boundaries for her. This one is going to be interesting and tough. First up is getting her kennel trained. I can do it over several weeks but I have to create a safe place for Molly to retreat to when I need her to (i.e. when company comes over). I do have a big plastic kennel but I think I’m going to buy a cage one so she can at least see out easily.

Next, I’m to reduce the amount of space she has access to when I’m not home. Right now Molly has full range of the house when I’m gone. She claimed the sofa in the front early on as it provided a great view of the world out front. I am supposed to reclaim that space–she’s only allowed up when I let her. We’ve got that down pat throughout the rest of the house but that sofa…this one is going to be tricky.

Then, there are her toys. We normally keep her toys in one basket that she has access to. I’m supposed to move that basket up high. She’s only allowed access to her toys as a treat, not when she feels like playing.

This will be hard for me…I mean…how do you say no to this face?

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It’s all for the good though. And I feel good about this process.

Starting next week, we introduce Molly to one of C.’s boxers and begin socialization. Exciting!