Bert walks Gracie in
CHAPTER TWO ~ UPDATE 2/27: Gracie was moved to the home of one of our staff members this afternoon. After a few tense moments when Gracie darted under our vehicle and we discovered that Gracie's leash had been attached to one of the "dead" rings on her collar by her foster, she was re-leashed, transferred to her new quarters and introduced to the resident pack.
We moved on to up-close-and-personal intros ~ no growling or other aggressive behavior at all from any of the dogs. Gracie was not very interested in returning the sniffs of Jake and Aspen, but she did not object to anything they did.
Gracie is still in desperate need of a bath; we will be addressing that need before her vet appointment on March 6th. Please check back for updates.
UPDATE 2/28: Gracie saw our groomer today at Sherry's Pampered Pets. The groomer said she was afraid, but did very well overall. Unfortunately, whatever is stuck in Gracie's fur is not just vegetable oil as we had been told. The groomer worked on her for 3 hours, bathing and brushing and bathing and brushing, and STILL could not get all the sticky black substance out of her coat! Tar, maybe? We can't even guess what it is or how it got there, but at least Gracie is clean for her vet appointment next Tuesday.
The groomer said that Gracie did very well, even though she was obviously frightened. The more we expose Gracie to, the happier she will be. She's finally learning to be a dog and is being forced to cope (like a dog) with all the big wide world has to offer. We think she'll come around.
UPDATE 3/1: Gracie is quickly learning and becoming comfortable with the household routine. She sleeps inside (in her crate next to Aspen) at night. In the morning, it's up and outside for the 2 girls for pottying and some together time; then it's back inside for breakfast. (We feed in crates so that we can monitor what and how much a dog is eating.) After breakfast, it's outside for the afternoon. The same routine is repeated for dinner, and bedtime is around 11pm. Routine should be comforting to Gracie, as well as having another dog to pal around with and show her the ropes. She's still not coming up and asking for affection, but she's allowing herself to be touched and petted.
UPDATE 3/2: Gracie's spay surgery has been postponed for a week (until 2/13) due to an emergency surgery at our vet's office. We will spend that extra time continuing to show Gracie how to live like a dog, and gaining her trust. This morning she sniffed our staff member's hand and gave it several licks. A small step, but we'll take it. She's calmer already, but still not quite ready to give complete trust. Now that she is clean, there appears to be a collar line around her neck, possibly from being tied out 24/7. We will investigate further when we are able to bring Gracie up-close-and-personal for an examination.
UPDATE 3/6: Our staff member has spent hours brushing through Gracie's coat, trying to remove the years of neglect that 3 baths at the groomer's could not erase. Her coat is so matted, that neither a brush nor a comb can get through the fur on the back of her neck:
We're going to venture a guess (and we're pretty sure it's an accurate one) that Gracie has never felt a brush on her back, or anywhere else for that matter. At first we thought it was the vegetable oil that had been poured on her when she was captured, but when the groomer couldn't budge it, we knew it was much more than that.
Now that Gracie is cleaner, we've been able to see a clear mark around her neck ... probably from whatever was used to tie her out. Gracie probably spent her entire life at the end of a chain (or some other form of tie-out).
Gracie is still not coming up and asking for affection, but when our staff member sits down and brings out the brush, Gracie will allow herself to be guided into reach of the brush. Today we even found her tickle spot -- a spot we're guessing that NO ONE (even Gracie) knew she had.
Gracie is no longer allowed to avoid human contact, even though we have to force the issue. We still have to push Gracie to allow us to touch her, but it's obvious she's enjoying the touching more and more. She will flinch at every move you make, which is heartbreaking, but gentle, slow movements accompanied by talking to her and petting (or brushing) seem to be getting through to her. While we detest putting a harness on a dog, we're going to give one a try for Gracie now that we have found the marks around her neck. Maybe it will help...
UPDATE 3/8: Gracie is an enigma. If our staff member approaches her standing up (even walking slowly), Gracie panics and does everything she can to get away, to the point of practically strangling herself with the leash attached to her collar. But sit down with a brush in your hand, bring Gracie to you using the same leash, and it's another story. She's still not happy, but she will allow herself to be touched and brushed and will slowly relax and start to enjoy herself. Tonight when she was being brushed, she reached out and started to lick our staff member's leg. She's not quite ready to surrender completely (roll over on her back to expose her belly for rubs and scratches), but we'll be working on that every day. We're considering postponing her spay surgery since things are going so well, but we're afraid she may go into heat, and raging hormones is not something that Gracie needs right now.
UPDATE 3/9: A small victory today! During Gracie's daily brushing session with our staff member, she came SO close to going "belly up." There were lots of hand licks and sniffing of our hands. She started in a sitting position, and gradually laid down and rolled over on her side. It was amazing to be part of it...
Gracie, we don't know what some human did to you but, whoever you are, you'd better hope we never find out and find YOU!
UPDATE 3/13: Gracie went in for her spay surgery today and weighed in at 41 pounds. We also asked our vet to xray her rear right leg, which is noticeably turned outward ... the news is not good. Even at her young age (our vet estimates her to be about a year and a half), Gracie has severe hip dysplasia on her right side. She has apparently learned to live with it, and she has no limitations at all when it comes to walking or running, but out vet feels that she is in considerable pain -- at least we can remedy that for Gracie. We can't give her a new hip joint, but at least we can make her pain free, which may go a long way in improving Gracie's outlook on life. We sure hope so...
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