Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Afternoon with Alba

I had the most wonderful day today! After going to church with Mom & Dad (and happy Father's Day again, Dad!), I brought Alba over to my parents' house to spend some time playing in the back yard. Now, Alba is usually shy and timid, and frankly dominated by her sister Alice. She tends to cower in the back of her crate, and will only come out with a lot of coaxing (which sometimes involves dragging--it feels mean, but when you need to get the dog to eat or go outside, you do what you have to!). Not surprisingly, when Mom & I came to my house to pick her up, she was not happy to be going anywhere!

Side note--Mom and I decided that since Alba is so timid, it would be better to bring just her rather than both puppies. We felt that it would be less traumatic for her to get used to a new place without having to contend with her over-eager sibling. (Another side note: please don't think that I don't love Alice too! She's energetic, happy, cute, silly, and all those things a puppy is supposed to be. I just feel sorry for them both sometimes, because I think that they're hampered by each other's behavior & their relationship.)Anyway, we got Alba to M&D's house, and I walked (partially dragged) Alba from her crate to the back yard. For those who haven't seen it, M&D have a nice big fenced-in back yard; perfect for dogs to run around in. (Rachel & I have a back yard, but it's not fully fenced-in, so the puppies can't run free.) By the time we got from the car to the gate, Alba was walking normally, sniffing the air, the grass, etc. And by the time we got through the gate, she was ready to start exploring.
We brought her crate into the yard so she would have her "safety zone" nearby. For the first 20 minutes or so, she ran all around the yard, sniffing, marking her new territory, and exploring. It was so much fun to watch! She was bright-eyed, alert, and perky, dancing around the yard, and obviously having a ball. After a bit, I led her to the water bowl we had put out next to her crate so she'd feel totally comfortable. She went back into her crate for a while, worn out from these new experiences, but seeming content. When Dad got home a bit later, we all sat out in the yard near Alba's crate, letting her get used to these new people, their smells and their voices. After a while of that, I brought her back out of the crate. She was a bit shy at first, as she always is around new people (she hadn't met Dad before), but she quickly got back to running around and exploring. It was such a joy to watch her acting like the puppy she is!
The next big milestone was when she VOLUNTARILY came up to Dad and sniffed his toes. It was really exciting, because Alba usually won't approach a new person at all, and she seems especially wary of men. Before too long, she had taken a handful of food from Dad, and not long after that, she was letting him pet her. I was so excited and happy that I was nearly in tears. I imagine I felt like parent watching their baby take her first step or speak his first word. We spent a couple of hours like this, enjoying Alba's company and watching her blossom into a normal puppy. She discovered a game with Mom tossing her bits of kibble, which she would then snuffle up from the grass. Mom decided that if she were to adopt Alba, she'd name her Snuffle (for Snuffleupagus). She let both Mom and Dad pet her, and ate from both of their hands. This all had a huge impact on her socialization. She now knows she is safe around other people (at least around my parents) and in other places. I think it will have a very good influence on her in her future home.

There was so much cuteness in the afternoon, it was overwhelming! Once she was all worn out--but still being brave and sociable!--we got her back in her crate, where she lay down without cowering in the back, and I brought her home. She made huge progress today, and we all had fun. I spent a lot of time clapping, bouncing, and giggling as I watched her brave new frontiers of puppyhood. It was a wonderful day for us all.

We got a couple of adorable pictures of Alba at the end of the evening, which I'll post just as soon as Dad emails them to me.

Update: Here are the pictures. They're from when Alba went back in her crate after she had spent a few hours out with us.
Here's Alba curled up--at the front of her crate!--peering out at the world.

And here she is with her chin resting on her toy. When I saw this, I just about melted! It was even cuter in person :) She's so worn out from her afternoon of playing that she's about to fall asleep.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A brief back-story on Allice and Alba

Alice and Alba were found in the "wild" in rural Virginia, where they were rescued by the shelter. (Homeward bound then rescued them from the shelter, and Rachel & I took them home as fosters.) They were emaciated and mangy, so the assumption is that they were abandoned early on or were born to a stray. At any rate, they had clearly been trying to fend for themselves for quite a while, given their extreme skinniness.

For additional info on Alice & Alba, check out their blog, and for info on other fosterable and adoptable pets, check out Homeward Trails or your local SPCA (here's the NOVA area's branch). There are lots of pets out there who need love! Even if you can't foster or adopt, there are still plenty of opportunities to help, either by volunteering or donating. We can all help make the world better for our furry friends.

Alice and Alba Update

Well, the gals were supposed to go to an adoption event this past weekend, but that didn't happen.

They had a check-up with the vet last week, and he discovered that they still have mange. :( That means that, before they can go to any events (or even be around other animals), they have another four-week course of treatment. Poor puppies! The do seem to be more comfortable, though--in addition to the mange medication, the vet also gave us some anti-itch meds.

I'd like to tell everyone a bit more about the puppies' personalities. Alice is brave and rambunctious, and likes to chew! She has lots and lots of chew toys to be sure that she doesn't get into anything bad. I have noticed, though, that if I'm sitting on the couch with bare feet, she likes to nibble my toes. (Apparently dogs have a thing for my feet. Belle liked to chew on my toes, too. I'm pretty sure that this is not flattering.) Fortunately, she doesn't bite down, hard, but it's pretty startling to suddenly feel...something...gnawing on my exposed toes when I'm not paying attention! Alice does have a tendency to dominate her sister. She has a very excited and inquisitive personality.

Alba is the quiet, shy one. She is still a bit timid, and she startles easily. She gets happy and excited, too, but tends to settle down quickly. She lets her sister bully her sometimes, and it seems like she's more of a follower. Alba is a good listener, and I suspect is going to be the easier of the two to train. Like all puppies, Alba likes to chew, but she's not as aggressive in seeking out chewies as Alice is. She is a sweet, loving dog.

Both of these girls are going to make wonderful pets when they find their permanent home! I suspect that they'll do better in the long run if they're adopted separately; I think that will allow them to develop their personalities without being too influenced by each other. I think that being separate will help Alice calm down and Alba become more bold.

Let's hope that the find a forever home soon!