Thursday, September 10, 2009

Billy Ray and Tonka Begin Their Life Together

As stated previously here and here we are starting with a new service dog puppy. We met Tonka at 8 weeks old and the plan was for the breeder to give him basic obedience training and keep him until he was about six months old.

After conversation with our veterinarian, it was decided that it would be safer for the puppy to take it at six months old because Billy Ray can play rough with his dog and an older puppy could deal with that better. Additionally, training his first two dogs to adapt to him, both of whom were 6 months when we started, had worked well.

Tonka seemed the perfect choice at 8 weeks old when we met him. However, you know what they say about the best laid plans. The breeder was very ill and unable to work with Tonka so he came to us at six months old somewhat unsocialized and afraid of everything and everyone. He had apparently been growing rapidly and was very thin as well.

Dr. Pickering had me interview trainers to help socialize him and put him on a great puppy growth formula food (he gained 16 lbs. in three weeks). The trainer I selected Diann Hecht of Happy Tails has been coming to the house weekly for the last four weeks. Diann says that he is without a doubt one of the most difficult puppies she has worked with in her 15 years of experience but we are making steady progress.

He was resistent to being inside with the family and his crate (to sleep in) and hid outside every chance he got. He would take treats from our hands but not get close enough to be petted or caught in the beginning. In order for his return visit to Dr. Pickering he had to have medication to partially sedate him and we still had great difficulty getting him there. He refused to walk on the leash - just flopping on the ground and digging in. The medication to calm him and the vacinnations apparently worked together to relax him the day of that visit. We put him on the couch on his return from Dr. Pickering and were finally able to snap some picks and allow Billy Ray to enjoy him more than he had been able to since arriving on August 8. Here are a couple of pictures (if you are reading this on Amazon or aren't able to get the pictures go to :

He is still fighting the leash but we are working on it. However, he will now fetch for Billy Ray and for me and continues to take treats.

Today I am happy even though he chewed up my lawn swing because it is a sign he is overcoming some of his fear. He was afraid if it moved even in the wind or if we were sitting on it. However, I looked out this morning and he was sitting on it. There is no way he could have gotten into it without it moving so he must have overcome his fear of that. There first time I saw it I grabbed for the camera but he was down. I calmly told him "no chew" so as not to add to his fear. Later he was back and here is what I saw because I had the camera in hand this time:

Who knows how successful Tonka will be as a service dog but Billy Ray already loves him and we still have Penny Lane for the present time. Billy Ray has been experiencing increasing difficulty with his pancreatitis and Tonka already brightens his days so maybe that is enough for today. We will keep working on it and keep you posted.

I will update you on Billy Ray soon. He had an MRI today and I will know more soon. His "Dr. Brice" has returned to the clinic from his leave of absence so Billy Ray is returning to him next week. They are truly buddies and I think that will make Billy Ray more comfortable dealing with his health situation.

Until next time,

Peggy Lou Morgan

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