The Story of Effie: Definite Progression

October 30, 2013 | By Mellie Test

It's been a busy week, as Pet360 Media has been preparing for BlogPaws 2013. I've been consumed with tasks in the office, so my priority at home has been smoothing our routines so that no energy is wasted.

Looking back, the most important key this week was flexibility. While I've outlined the "routine" that seemed to work well, each day required small tweaks to that flow. Keeping those tweaks small constantly challenges me because of my strong desire to see everything "fall into place;" however, we're ultimately experiencing positive progress.

I initially backed off after several failed attempts at walking the three dogs (end even two, when we tried the bike path - Effie was barking and lunging at everyone and everything that passed, and I had my first taste of "hairy eyeballs" from passers by who weren't thrilled about their proximity to a barking, lunging pittie). On Tuesday,

[caption id="attachment_776" align="alignright" width="150"] Peaceful in proximity![/caption]

however, I began walking Effie and Stucky together on the quieter streets of Conshohocken. I avoid traffic, people, and dogs. Effie's still jumpy and will bark and/or lunge, so I keep the stimulation as low as possible and proactively avoid potentially challenging situations.

Our lunch routine has evolved to walking Stucky and Effie together for about 20 minutes and then returning for a solo walk/jog with Ronan. It's been a fortunate arrangement in that I've been needing to give Ronan some one-on-one time, but couldn't find the time. Funny how "couldn't" disappears when you're determined and committed to the well-being of a darling pup! Effie's adapting, and the vets are seeming more familiar and relaxed.

Yesterday, due to time constraints, I attempted a walk with all three dogs together. Stucky and Effie have been walking well together, so I kept them on the same side while I held Ronan on the other side with a short lead. Again, I needed complete awareness to notice potential distractions like squirrels, dogs, or people. We'd cross the street if someone started walking our way. I'm sure many neighborhood folk assume my dogs are "dangerous" because of my careful negotiations, but I am solely concerned with setting the dogs up for success, and being able to maintain order (safety for all!).

Because that walk went amazingly well, I jumped slightly ahead of schedule. Effie and Stucky have been doing so well around the house together that I've begun allowing Effie and Ronan short bouts of play. They wrestle and run, and Ronan's begun serenading Effie with his amusing howly invitation to play. The bouts are still very short (two or three minutes), and I'm breaking them up early in a positive mood. All three milled about together (I continued a loose hold on Effie's leash) outdoors, though play with three escalates faster than any of us are ready for!

[caption id="attachment_777" align="alignright" width="150"] All three, sharing space[/caption]

The dogs are still separate during the day and at night. It's been two weeks since Effie joined us, and last night was the first night all three dogs were allowed in the same room together (other than in passing for potty break outings). Because of this very gradual introduction/integration, all three rested peacefully. In fact, at this moment, Stucky is sleeping on the floor, Effie is snoring in a ball at my side, and Ronan is resting on the old patio recliner. I'm usually checking in with all three, but the need for any interruption or intervention seems much less pressing. Until they decide to play, when it's time to be completely in the moment and conscious of attitude and timing!

I've had a lot of thoughts on why I'm taking this on; it's not easy. Then again, I've experienced more disruption than peace in my life over the years. Yet the love I feel for these creatures (and my son) keep me driving onward and scooping myself up for another daily round. The benefits of our loving little family are worth far more than previous conveniences such as a full night's sleep, or completely spontaneous road trips.

Determination and patience has ben essential, and I'm thrilled by how far we've already come.

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