Monday, February 3, 2014

It's All About Barry

The following week was better for us in terms of Barry not escaping our home and feeling more settled with him. We didn't worry that he would get out due to our new deadbolt. The deadbolt was one of the best things we've ever done for our sanity. Also the dog walker. She's been just great. She's patient and loving. Also, she can handle walking a pit bull. He's not easy to walk.

He loves the outdoors, cold or not! 
We got into a nice groove, a routine that's been working for us. It started the 2nd week with Barry. We realized that his attempts to escape were him being upset and confused that we were leaving. He wasn't trying to escape to leave. He was trying to escape to go find his pack. To find us. It was a form of separation anxiety. It's not natural for a dog to not be with it's pack. Unfortunately in this day and age with domesticated dogs living as pets with humans it's necessary. We have to go to work and leave for a time during the week. It's just the way it is. So we had to work with him to get him to understand or at least accept that we need to leave and we'll always be back. He still doesn't like it but he's accepted it. The routine has naturally evolved since that second week but we have basic important steps for the morning ritual and it's made leaving a lot easier.

Look at that sweet guy. How can it ever be easy to leave that face?
We began to put music on while we got ready and then would keep it on during the day. I'd give him calming chews about 45 minutes before I left to help lessen any anxiety he may have. After getting myself ready I'd turn off all the lights (except for the 3 lamps we leave on for him throughout the condo) and turn on the clothes dryer for some white noise. Then I'd sit with him on the couch for 30 minutes just relaxing and looking at the internet. I had to do that for myself too because I'd get nervous before leaving because I hated leaving him. He'd fall asleep and then I'd get my coat, bags and quietly leave. I'd stand by the elevator for a few minutes to wait and see if he'd start crying. He didn't. He would eventually start up crying later on in the day but it would take him longer and longer each time. So it was progress. The first week there were a few complaints about his crying and we haven't had a complaint since that week so that's a big positive.

Our current routine is less subtle now and easier to follow. The night before we fill his KONG up with a variety of treats. I stuff the small opening with a soft treat, carrot or butternut squash then I begin to fill (the bit of carrot or squash helps to seal the small opening so that nothing leaks out). I will chop up some of the carrot or squash and put a little bit of kibble in then put in some baby food (no additives or preservatives added of course). The baby food can be anything from pea puree, sweet potato puree, chicken and rice puree, banana, etc. Then I will add in maybe some banana as a filler or twice per week we put in a bit of canned lamb or buffalo wet dog food (it's very rich so we keep this special treat to a minimum). I top with peanut butter or coconut oil and then place one or two meaty treats right on top. I place in the freezer over night and it's ready in the AM. That gives him hours of entertainment. Okay, back on to our actual routine - the KONG is integral so I wanted to share that part. We get ready as normal with the radio on. At around 8AM I go around and turn off all the lights except the lamps we keep on for him. I pull his KONG out to help it thaw a bit so he can smell all the good things inside. I sit on the couch with him for a half hour or so and look at the internet. When I have 10 minutes until the train arrives I get myself ready, putting on my essentials (coat, hat, etc.), I put the KONG down for him and I leave. The KONG is the main reason he's cool with us leaving. He knows he gets that yummy filled toy when we leave and he enjoys it. I only give him calming chews occasionally now. It's not necessary daily anymore.

Here is an example of some of the types of ingredients I might use.
The look after it's stuffed. Looks good, huh?
The dewormer also worked like a charm. We could tell he had more of a pep to his step the week following. We were also transitioning him from the food he ate in the shelter to a more natural brand that is grain free. That meant dealing with slightly loose stools and bad gas for a few days but nothing major. His coat started to look really shiny and he put on a few pounds. His health was good when we got him but now we could also see how healthy he was. His muscles quickly got built up and now he is like a 65 lb body builder. I never thought that muscles could be cute but Barry makes muscles look cute.

Check out those muscular thighs! BOOM!
Barry is sort of freakishly strong. This may not come as a surprise to some but to me it was. I mean, I knew he'd be strong. I just didn't realize. I complain about how he pulls when we walk but if he really wanted to he could drag me down the street! I have decent control over him when we go on walks (I will give my husband credit for 95% of the walks. Thanks, babe.). For the most part he's well behaved on walks. He could probably pull 500 lbs down the street if he wanted to. Sometimes we put a back pack on him with 4 water bottles in it. Supposedly it is a good work out and makes him feel like he's doing a job - which dogs like. He certainly doesn't seem to mind the back pack. It sort of slows him down. Kind of. Also we can put poop bags in it and treats. So if nothing else, it's good for building his muscles (making him even more freakishly strong) and storing things we need for walks.

Here Barry is modeling his fashionable green backpack.

No comments:

Post a Comment