The KoKo Intervention

I mentioned a few days ago that we were having some issues with the pup, KoKoKoNa, and promised a longer post.

It’s one of those situations where I didn’t realize how bad it was…until one particular incident.  Then I realized we were in trouble.  She’s always been fearful.  When she was a puppy I never had to worry if she got off her little collar — she would run right up and sit on the porch to wait for us.  We joked she was afraid of outside.  She didn’t WANT to go outside.

We used to have Uncle J stop by and take her out if we were going to be gone longer than 4 hours, but he said she was scared of him.  He’d have to reach into her crate to get her out, and then sometimes she peed on the floor.  Again, fear.

She barked at my Dad every time he came over.  She hated That Man’s Mom.  Still hates Uncle J.  She barks nonstop at anything and everything if I put her outside for a while, and for a medium sized dog (45 lbs) she has a very mean, ferocious bark.  I would never leave her unattended outside for fear the neighbors would call the police.

But one particular incident happened a couple of weeks ago that scared me to death.  Princess and That Man were gone to a home HS football game, so I let the two youngest monsters invite friends for a sleepover.  Of course they were excited and a little loud.  I sent puppy outside and warned the girls to let me handle her because she was nervous around strangers.

She stood at the door and barked her head off.  I went out and leashed her, brought her in slowly, and she was like a frothing-at-the-mouth insane dog.  She barked and lunged and carried on like she was nuts.  Not the even same dog.  The girls didn’t look at her, didn’t say anything, just sat quietly on the couch while I stood with her at the back door trying to get her used to them, and I could hardly handle her.  She was so frantic to bite something, anything, that she almost got my leg (I was standing between her and the kids).  She caught my pants’ leg in her teeth.

I know she loves us.  She’s not a mean dog.  But fear can still make a dog go redline and she was over that line and then some.  She would have bitten me if she could have.  Even after I put her in her crate, she couldn’t relax.  She couldn’t stop barking.  She even barked at me every time I walked by, as if she were saying, MOM GET ME OUT OF HERE SO I CAN BITE THOSE STRANGERS AND CHASE THEM OUT OF OUR HOUSE!

I finally put a blanket over her crate and only then was she able to settle down.

The next morning… she was fine.  She spent the night in Princess’s room (unusual — she usually sleeps with Middle but I didn’t trust her anywhere near the guests) and was calm enough the next morning that I carefully introduced her to Middle’s friend.  She didn’t bark once.

But I can’t have a redline dog around my kids, or our neighbor’s little girl (less than 2 years old), or any of the other kids that run in and out of our yard in the summer.  I can’t risk anyone getting hurt – I would feel horrible.  As horrible as I was feeling at the thought of finding KoKo a new home.

I know Cesar Milan recommends walking regularly, and I’ve not been able to do that with her even using his techniques.  She’s just too strong for me to handle and I’m exhausted after 30 mins.  However, Raelyn recommended the Gentle Leader collar.  My local pet store was out of the size we needed, but I found a knockoff version that has worked wonders.  I’m able to walk her and keep her calm.  Wearing that collar, she didn’t bark at my Dad when he came over the next time and even took a treat from his hand (where the time before she struggled so hard she got out of her collar and ran away).

Better, but not enough for me to trust her with children.

So in talking to my Dad, he’s taking her for two weeks for a little intervention.  He has a well-trained, calm bird dog that she can hang out with and he’ll work on teaching her some of those commands.  She’ll be on the farm with lots of new situations and animals to hopefully help her settle down a little.  It’s deer season, so he’ll have lots of strangers in and out (all grown men who’ll be warned to be careful around her).  It’s my hope that a few commands that I haven’t been able to teach her will help steady her out, and I trust my Dad’s recommendation.  If he feels she’s not safe to keep around kids, then we’ll have to rehome her, as hard as that will be.

He gave me an update this morning (we took her up Saturday afternoon).  She will do what he asks…but she doesn’t do it “eagerly.”  She’ll come at his command, but not offer affection or welcome affection in return.  She leans away from him and retreats as soon as he allows it.  She can’t relax but paces constantly.  If he uses his “alpha” NO voice, she pees all over herself.

But he said she is better.  She hasn’t tried to bite him.  She’s just scared.

I have no idea what happened to her before we got her at 10-weeks old.  Maybe she’s inbred.  I really don’t know anything about her or where the people we bought her from had gotten her.  I’ll just keep hoping for the best.

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