Saturday, June 16, 2012

How Far Has Layla Come

September 26th is Layla's adoption/birthday date. We do not know her actual birthday. It feels right to use that date for her birthday since it has a special meaning to us. Layla is estimated to be 3-4 years old, and we have a feeling she is 4-year old based on her physical examination by her vet. 

After I was interviewed by the adoption agency, I received a good news that we were approved to meet and adopt Layla! I thanked the lady and ran to call Stuart. I broke the good news to him. He was coaching at Ripon College that day. I begged Stu to make time for us to go down to Milwaukee area to meet Layla. He agreed. 

I was so excited. I ran to Walmart to purchase a dog crate, and went to Petco to get leash along with some bowls, and toys. I must have spent $100 that day! I came home and set up the new home for Layla. Stu arrived home and approved the items I had purchased for Layla. We drove down to Grafton (north of Milwaukee) and arrived at the local Petco store. We were a bit early so we spent a bit of time walking around and talking about our possible dog. We must have waited what felt like forever (in reality, it was probably just half hour), and Layla finally showed up with her handler. She was timid and unsure. Other than that, she was a perfect size for our home. We ended up adopting her right there.

In a few months from now, it will be a year since we added Layla to our family. We can't imagine our lives without Layla in it.

Layla has been doing beautifully. Her resource guarding behaviors are nearly non-existent. It is because we maintain her training and continually remind her of her boundaries. Layla is comfortable enough to allow me to take unapproved food out of her mouth with my bare hand. Believe it or not; there was a time when I couldn't do this without getting nipped! More often than not, during our walks; Layla will find a chicken bone or scraps on the sidewalk and tries to eat it, I end up taking it out of her mouth without her getting upset, and I give her a treat for her cooperation. Sometimes, I don't even give her a treat and pet her instead. 

We are able to leave our food on the coffee table or eat around Layla nearby without worrying she will try to snatch food from us. The drooling part...nothing we can do about that though! She does counter surf in the kitchen if I have my back turned to her or leave the kitchen unattended for a few minutes. That is a Basset thing more than guard resourcing behavior! 

Layla is a completely different dog from when she first came to us. Our family members continue to tell us how wonderful, how sweet, and how hilarious Layla is. My aunt even gave me a wonderful compliment about Layla--saying that she is a miracle with given how much she has come from the beginning. 

This kind of makes me want to find our first trainer (here's the post about her first assessment by this particular trainer: First Awful Assessment) and tell her to SUCK IT. Childish of me, I is just that it still angers me how badly the first trainer misjudged Layla. All I can do is really write a review online explaining that this trainer is not a good fit for us, and that I would not recommend her at all. Matter of fact, I have a feeling if this trainer returns to evaluate Layla once again then she will give us a completely 180 answer about Layla. Only if I can get her do this to herself.....



Layla has recently developed a new habit of being leash aggressive during our walks. She has a tendency to lunge and bark like crazy at a dog being walked by his/her owner across the street. However, if the dog and his/her owner walks up to us; Layla is fine and sniffs happily to say hello. I am not sure why she does this. Maybe she is frustrated that she cannot go across the street to say hello or wants to assert her dominance over that dog. Who knows. Fortunately, we are able to nip this in the bud by asserting our dominant position over Layla by standing in front of her and forcing her to calm down rather than becoming too fixated on the dog. Like us people, she has both good and bad days. Some days, she doesn't want to cooperate and listen and it is when I usually cut our daily walk short. On most days, which are good, she listens and continues to move on without going crazy on her leash.

Layla is a huge clown. She likes to make funniest facial expressions, noises, and does things that make us laugh. Her tail wags like crazy when we laugh. On some occasions, we have found her sleeping on our bed just like a person (never mind that she is really not allowed on our bed in the first place...). 

Even with her quirks, funny characteristics, and some naughty behaviors to be remedied; we would not trade her for any other dog in the whole world. She is ours.

Truly, if you do end up adopting a dog that may have a major adjustment issue then please do not give up on your dog. It may be hard on some days. It may make you question your decision whether you are the right person for your dog. It may make you want to scream, and pull hair out of your head. If you keep on working with your dog to remedy some issues he/she may have then you will be amazed by the outcome.

It did take us at least half year to see a drastic change with Layla's behavior. Even so, when her undesirable behavior showed up then we corrected it immediately to remind her that it was not desirable and likable. We continually rewarded her for good and likable behaviors. We socialized Layla with other dogs--our family pets, at dog parks, and even at places that allowed dogs such as Petco or Petsmart stores.

It has been nearly a year and Layla is a very different dog from when we first got her. She is no longer frightened or timid. There has been moments when she is a bit shy, and when she is in that mood then we explain to people to give her time rather than rushing to her and overwhelming her. Her confidence level has definitely boosted ever since. She is always supervised around kids--really, with any dogs, you will need to supervise dogs with kids--and even so; she is really wonderful with them. Layla is a HUGE sucker for petting and kisses. She stops every person she sees and begs to be petted. 

There is always hope for dogs like her.

Just don't give up on your dog with similar issues.

It will be worth the journey and hard work. I promise.

***If you do end up with a dog that is deemed to be still very difficult and aggressive despite all of your hard work and patience then be aware that you are not doing wrong by surrendering your dog, and take credit in at least trying. Fortunately, this does not happen very often. More often than not, you'll end up having  dog that will drastically improve!***

Layla hanging out with Coco (My mom's dog)


1 comment :

  1. I love your posts about Layla! Well done for all of your hard work, I'm so glad it has paid off! We have a beagle, who has also been a challenge and still has a few issues, some days it is really hard not to give in to his droopy, innocent eyes but seeing that it has totally paid off with Layla has motivated me to recap some of his training sessions, so thank you!