Monday, November 7, 2011

The Sleepover: What We've Learned

Overall, it was a good weekend. We learned so much, both about having two greys, and about Ferguson! Specifically, I understand now why the adoption group thought that Ferguson could be an only dog; he is confident and fearless with everything, especially compared to poor timid Walter. Big noisy truck goes by? Ferg doesn't bat an eye. People coming in and out of the house all the time? Nothing but a tail wag. Have to walk near things he's never seen in his life? He takes it in stride. In fact, pretty much the ONLY thing Ferg is afraid of is being left alone, and he turns to a sad whimpy puppy. But, as we confirmed, as long as he has a pal, even a far less confident one like Walter, he is fine.

I first left them with Walter in the pen, and Ferg right next to him in his crate. We learned that Ferguson actually prefers to not be left in a crate when we're not at home; he tolerated it with Walter there, but he did much, much better (no panting, no tossing and turning) when they were left upstairs in our room loose with muzzles, where I'm pretty sure neither of them moved until we returned an hour later. Ultimately, I will say, the ease in which I felt like I could leave the house without worry was wonderful, and not something I've felt in quite a long time.

All ready for bed!

Walter is such a handsome guy :).

The letter I wrote to Walter's mom:

What a fun day we had! Walter did much better last night, and only got antsy around the time you said he would (8ish) so just one "shh" was all that was needed. I think part of the problem the previous night was that he was cold! We turned the heater on for the dogs, and they seemed much better. I also had Walter sleep in Ferguson's "Thundershirt" as an extra layer/source of comfort, and it seemed to work well :). He is just too funny...we learn more about him all the time, and I've also learned a lot more about Ferguson too! They are a good pair, and the only time anything other than "friendly" occurred was when Walter sniffed a little too long at Ferg's private area, and Ferg made a quick little grr sound...and that was literally it for the whole time they've been together!
So many cute little stories! One with the car: we took our ride to the picnic, and while Walter was uncertain about the car at first (we had to lift him into the back), he did lay down eventually and stayed put (which was good, since we didn't have my partition this time). On the way home, however, Eric opened the trunk and Walter SPRANG into the back in one graceful leap! What a jump! I was so impressed; while he's a timid dog and hesitant to try new things, once he makes the positive!!
At the picnic today, he had a pretty good time. It was chilly, but he had his coat and was kept cozy. He was quite shy of people and would back away from them, but would completely disregard his timidness in favor of sniffing another dog...he sure does love other dogs :). I think it was a good experience for him, and he always had his buddy Ferguson, the social butterfly, right by his side. We even met his former foster family, who commented on how far he's come :). Yay for Walter!
With Ferguson, one of the funniest things is how they are in the house when they both have their muzzles on; they rub on each other like crazy, and even turned it into a way of playing together. Walter, we've also noticed, likes to rub on you like a cat and even arches his back...too funny. Additionally, Eric and Walter are best buds; Walter follows him everywhere and wags his tail every time he comes in the room :). It helps that Walter is Eric's favorite coloring in greyhounds, so he's a little biased ;-).
As for my experiment, a lot of things have been made more clear. Ferguson is fine (as I expected) as long as there is another dog. He is still ridiculously attached to me and would always choose me over another dog, but accepts being alone much more readily with another dog with him. Also, we've learned he doesn't especially enjoy being left in his crate. He tolerates it and likes spending time in there by choice, but does better when with the other dog in a more open space. When we went out this evening after the picnic (both dogs were and still are pretty exhausted), we tried leaving them in our bedroom with muzzles and soft music, and I came back to them snuggling, calm and relaxed on their beds. I've been taping their alone sessions, and there is no denying the improvement in Ferguson; he didn't even get up when we left him this evening.
SO, thank you so much again for letting Mr. Walter visit with us this weekend. It was very educational! We'll continue to work with Ferguson, but the ease in which another dog relieves his anxiety is well worth noting....and maaaaaay be something we'll look into in the near future if the right one comes along. As for Walter, I'm pretty sure he'd also love a confident little sister to continue to help build his confidence ;-). Anyway, sorry for the long letter. We'll see you tomorrow evening around 8? I know Walter will be thrilled to see you!!! ~Jenny


Nibs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nibs said...

Awww, sounds like a lovely sleepover! Me and Ambam were much calmer and happier when Mummie left us in the bedroom rather thn the cages- I'm so happy to hear that Mister F is doing so well! Walter sounds like a lovely boy, too

Chris said...

Sounds like everybody did great! Good job Ferg & Walter, and great job Jenny & Eric :o)
Ferg is such an easy going boy...

Kini_pella said...

Yes, he certainly is. Now to just find a little girl with a similar personality ;). We'll work on that...

houndstooth said...

It sounds like it was time well spent! I hope we'll be reading about Ferg's new sibling soon! :)

Declan said...

I think I'd do well with a sister or brother. got to get Mum to buy a bigger house first though! Deccy x