Acclimating – Me or Ridley?

IMG_1693I am not sure I realized just how sensitive my dogs are. But all it takes is adding one new dog to the mix and -well- I realized my pack was on the sensitive side. I am not talking about their feelings being hurt. I am speaking about their ability to regroup as a unit when their dynamic is mixed up. The addition of Ridley has really stirred the pot up so to speak. It is not a bad thing just something I realized after the fact. I now have dogs who are overstimulated, I have dogs that are not eating, dogs who are trying to eat what the other dogs arent eating. I have dogs who are peeing on the floor. We are in a bit of a state of flux. And this to shall pass.

Ridley was, as expected, pretty confused his first couple days and kept more to himself when it came to interactions with the other dogs. He sniffed them and they did the same but he was aloof and kept his distance. With humans he was the opposite. He was jovial and attention seeking.A total love bug. Which I took as a very good sign.

Already part of the line-up. Lemon is happy being in the back by the way. She is a good treat catcher.

The first night Kevin slept with him in the family room so he would have space to settle in – our bedroom is a postage stamp and we have 3 (now 4) of our dogs sleeping in there. Since then he has been sleeping in our room and doing well. He was too big for the bed I bought him so we put two together. The other dogs have accepted the new addition into the den.

Ridley in the 'Den

Ridley in the ‘Den”

Since Sunday Ridley has begun to make his way into the pack. Albeit very slowly. He has played a bit more each day but my guys are rough and young and he backs off after a minute or two. Ridley has decided the best way to figure out where he will stand in this pack of 4 males and 1 female is to try to hump each one. That does not go over too well. The other dogs will make their feelings known but I monitor -with spray bottle in hand -so things don’t get nasty. I had forgotten what a process it can be. I love the spray bottle.

I have found myself being more nervous this go around then ever before. I know this is because of the last fiasco with the biting sheepdog but it more of an issue than I thought it would be. I don’t want my nerves to convey to any of my dogs and I try to make my reactions and needed corrections calm but inside I am nervous. I know some caution is important especially after last time. Ridley is literally an in your face pup and he is very tall. He wants to lick his people all over their face and when you are just getting to know a dog especially after your last experience was so bad it must be normal to be leery. I have been nervous more than ever that he will just bite me. I have not ever felt this before until the biting dog episode. I realize how much that event effected me. As each day has progressed I have felt the fear ease more and more. When it has come to the dogs getting to know each other I have had nerves more too. I know that some dog v dog altercations might occur. Dogs communicate with growls and snaps and sometimes those have to be a little more stern than others. I step in when I feel the room has a certain buzz to it. I can’t explain it but I just know when it is time to calm things down. I have tried to let things be and not let my anxiety wash onto them. I have tried to be who I was before dog bite incident and slowly I am gaining the confidence again that this is what I do – I know how to do this. Outside I have let them run about and I control the “gang up on the new guy” game as well as the ‘let me hump you’ domination dances if they get to where I think it might be too much for the humpee.

I realize the problem with my nerves is my issue and it has nothing to do with Ridley at all–  I decided I need to just relax. Things are going fine. This dog has shown no signs of abnormal aggression or any aggressive tendencies. He is appropriate with our other dogs. He is only trying to see where he might fit into the pack and even with the humping there has been no aggression – just normal dog stuff. Some growls some small snaps by all parties are part of the getting to know you and learning your boundaries in the dog world. Ridley is a typical OES and I find the breed to be very confident and I think it is natural he may want to try to move his way up the hierarchy. I suppose I may have thought that because he is old he wouldn’t care as much where he stood in the pack- a human idea put onto a canine being! Shame on me!

Couching it

Couching it

What I do know about Ridley is that he is a wonderful guy. He was excited to meet all the humans in the family and likes all people he meets- he is a bit in your face and that is something we will have to work on but it might dissipate as he settles into his new life off the streets. I did find out Ridley was on the streets for a while. Seems that he was put out of his previous home and did not leave. He just hung out there for who knows how long. He was looking pretty pathetic I guess and someone did call animal control. The owners said they did not want him any longer and that is why he was outside. I get somewhat unnerved by that – why not just take him to the shelter? I have a picture of him and I won’t share it but he was very matted and could not turn his head bc of it. He has since been shaved and we are continuing to treat a skin infection. It is much resolved now as the rescue made sure he was given proper medication. I took him to the vet today and she gave us medicated shampoo for the groomer to use on Friday when he goes in for a day at the spa- he will go with Rudy so he has a friend to hang out with.  I thought Ridley looked very thin but the vet said he needs to put on a few more LBS but not to go over board as it is better on his joints if he stay on the lighter side. We will treat him with some supplements for skin an joints and we had blood work drawn and a urine sample. (He went right on command for the vet tech- he was nervous!). The vet thought he was great and pretty darn healthy.

My shadow(s) - hint look in the mirror!

My shadow(s) – hint look in the mirror!

When we got him we weren’t sure of his age. The records from the shelter had confusing dates. We thought he was between 8 -10. Luckily he has a microchip and I was able to confirm the number at the vets office so i called the chip company today and the date of birth the shelter had was correct. 1-5-2005. So Mr. Ridley is almost 11! Aside from some old looking teeth and maybe his lanky Ichabod build he doesn’t show his age much. He has a slightly stiff back end and he is just a tad wobbly.  He can jump onto a couch but not into our car or SUV. When he was playing he was easily knocked over but got back up quickly. The joint supplements will help with that I am sure.

I think this transition has been more stressful on me than on Ridley. His story may sound sad but he has moved on. He has joined his new family with little issue. Dogs are ever so resilient. I think there always is some confusion for them when they go from one place to another but mostly they move into their new lives with ease. That is comforting to me. I know it must be for the many people who foster for rescue groups. They can love a dog for a time and then send it off to their next home knowing the dog will be ok. It is survival instinct for the dog and it is a great gift. They don’t live in the past or the future. They live in the now.

This is in the car on the way home.

This is in the car on the way home.

In the time that it has taken me to write this while being interrupted by work and dog breaks, the dogs have had the best play session yet. Ridley was running in the pack and everyone was excited to include him. There was some chase and some tag and some barking. I am feeling good and less anxious. It was just another step in the process of everyone getting acquainted and acclimated..including me. What a sweet boy we got- he is going to be fine- we are all going to be just fine.

Thanks for reading —

PS- Here is a video of Ridley’s first group play. They began to gang up on him so he backed off. But it was a beginning. My video skill with this one is not very good!

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