Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Maggie at Large

Maggie at Large

When my father died, he left me with his dog, Maggie. No one else wanted her, so she is all mine. She came with some problems. When we adopted her from a rescue 3 years ago, she didn’t even know what “Good Girl” meant. We found that we had to keep her on a leash because not only will she run off, but running into the woods wasn’t good enough. She wanted to run down to the street—a very busy street—to look for garbage to eat. Yes, they found her doing just that when they rescued her. Anyone familiar with the west side of Cleveland knows what Train Avenue is like. She is from Train. Ironically, our last dog was found on Train, too, but she was just a pup and probably wasn’t on the street long at all.

That was problem number one. I can manage with that. Problem number two was worse—separation anxiety. If left alone, all paper products became vulnerable. My dad started by locking her up in his room when he left, but soon she was destroying that, too. we ended up getting her a cage. That worked, but my dad usually wasn’t gone that long when he left her. I spend the day at work and a lot of hours at the barn. She was destined to spend a lot of time in the cage. I wanted to find her a better home, but since no one wanted her, my sister suggested cleaning out my dad’s room of all paper products and leaving her locked in the room.

It worked. I would pack up a Kong toy for her and leave her in a large room with great windows overlooking the driveway, a bed, cage, water and toys. When I was home at night, she was allowed the whole house. Thunder and I sleep upstairs where she can’t go because of the metal spiral staircase that doesn’t work well for dogs. The first few weeks, she did find things to destroy in the house. Sigh.

Then, I started to sit with her a few minutes on her couch every night before bed. I reminded her that we used to call her Blunder when she was bad in the early days. I said that if she makes any mistakes over night, I would call her Blunder all the next day instead of Maggie. “Do you want to be Blunder or do you want to be Maggie.” After that, I never did have to call her Blunder. I still have the talk with her since she likes the cuddling time. Thunder thinks she should be called Blunder—he likes the sound of it.

Anyway, it has been over a month of the Blunder talk, and I decided to try not locking her up during the day. I did it a few times when I was only going to be gone for a short time, and to my surprise, she was fine. I expanded it to all the time and she hasn’t made a single blunder. I think it helps that I keep a very regular schedule. When Dad would leave her, she didn’t know if he would be gone 20 minutes or 5 hours. Routines are good for dogs.

So, now I have a proper watch dog who can roam about the house and bark to scare off any intruders. The intruders are usually deer, and they typically just stare at her when she barks. She gets very frustrated.

I’m not sure if Thunder likes her being loose during the day. She brings toys into his “play area” and leaves them there. Since she has more windows to bark out of, there is much more barking going on. He hates her barking. I do believe that she sleeps most of the day—just like she did when Dad was around to keep her company. For a young dog, she is pretty low energy. I guess I am lucky with that.

When I have time, I make sure she gets long walks, and she really likes them. I have started up here clicker training. She is awesome jumping through a hoop. I think I will try with the Frisbee, again.

Keeping her isn’t htat bad, after all. She has adjusted, and I am starting to like her more. Ask me again when I am walking her in the winter.


achieve1dream said...

Has it really been three years? Wow time flies by so quickly. I'm glad you and Maggie are getting along better and that she is doing so well in the house. You're such a good clicker trainer. :D

Judi said...

Maggie isn't at large, anymore. It appears she started to chase Thunder when I wasn't home. He got scared of her, so now she is in lockdown when I'm at work. The rest of the time, she is doing all right.

I would love to find a good home for her, but the people who have shown interest get put off that she has to be on a leash. She loves to play in the street. I think it is because she live out in the wild for a while and learned that that is where she can find food. She came from a very rough neighborhood in Cleveland.

She'd make a great dog for somebody...

achieve1dream said...

Poor Maggie that nobody wants her. Not cool chasing Thunder though! I can sympathize with the leash requirement thing because I have a Siberian Husky and they aren't trustworthy off leash either. The only time it bothers me is when I want to ride horses though. The rest of the time using a leash doesn't bother me. Keep looking. You might find someone with a big yard who would like to have her. :)