Wednesday, October 21, 2015

As Different as Black and White

Rex on left; Kane on right.

As a parent, one of the first things you learn with your second child is that, oh my god, each of them is beyond unique. They may come from the same end of the gene pool, but the differences can be profound. How much more dramatic are the differences when they aren't even siblings! The same is true of dogs, of course. Each is unique. Here are the things we've quickly discovered about Kane, our forever dog, and Rex, our foster dog.

For my Winnie-the-Pooh fans, Kane is like Tigger: don't stand too close to him or you'll get bounced into the stream. We have trained him out of this bouncing, but you can still tell that this is what he would dearly love to do. When a person enters the house, Kane can barely stay in his place and takes several minutes to calm down. Kane also has a little bit of Rabbit in him: he likes to be in charge (where's my clipboard?) and he is very, very smart and will out-wit you if given half a chance.

Rex, on the other hand is more like Winnie-the-Pooh: he really loves his food, is very chill most of the time, not necessarily the brightest bear in the fores. When he thinks he might be left all alone, Rex is also like Piglet: he frets whenever an exterior door closes (even if there are other people in the house), he whines desperately if he is put in his crate without all his soothing measures in place. And when someone new comes in, he will stay in his place until told he may leave it. He calms down in less than a minute.

Both dogs are trained on prong collars, but while Kane reluctantly (but politely; he is a gentleman) walks at heel and occasionally frequently gets distracted and creeps ahead of me, Rex walks so gently beside me it is unbelievable. If all I ever had to do with this dog was walk him, he would be perfect.

When it's time to do their business, Rex is no-nonsense: he just does it. Kane, true to his ADHD form, has to do a general area review, sniff any new smells, glance at the squirrels nearby, and then (maybe) lift his leg. 

As an update on the crate training: Rex now goes into his crate without excessive stress and sleeps there without whining. I added some anti-anxiety measures to the routine on his second night here: 
  • Thundershirt -- this is a snug-fitting jacket that really works to reduce animals' anxiety. It's like a firm, constant pressure that many animals find soothing. We already had one for Kane, and it conveniently fit Rex.
  • A background of New Age music playing for four hours on my iPad. As William Congreve wrote, "Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast." 
  • Put his crate in the same room as Kane's so he didn't feel alone all night.
That last one is probably the biggest change. But we've also continued with the "feeding protocol" -- feeding him kibble to get him to enter the crate and to associate it with positive feelings. I've even taken it a step further. This morning, I fed him half of his breakfast through the crate's closed door. The guy was a hoover! (The rest of that meal is being saved for recall training.)

I also want to update you on what Rex's real back story is. One of the people who knows Rex shared this: 
In Rex's defence.....he was not completely pampered by his original owner, but he was never crated and always in a home with other dogs. He was tied out during the day and tied inside at night with his original owners. When he was handed over he spent a week living in a home with another dog and he snuggled at night with him. He just has a strong desire for contact and affection. He is a smart puppy, he will get it and be an amazing loving dog for the perfect family. 
So a lot of Rex's issue is PTSD: the first time he ever went in a crate was to be taken away from his pack and flown hours away. He's learning now that the crate is a safe and comfortable place and that he won't be abandoned.

Onward and upward!

I'll leave you with a little video of our little family, which includes an update on our cat Elly's reaction to the new dog.


  1. It's amazing - you just described my son and my daughter! My son is very calm and laid back, but skittish at times; and my daughter is a Mexican jumping bean! don't worry I don't crate either of them - LOL but it is cool to see the different personalities and how Rex is responding to your training and touch. and people think animals don't "feel." - maybe it's not exactly like us humans - but there's something there.

  2. Your dogs are so sweet and wonderful! They are just like yin and yang)


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