Where We Are Now

My husband, Alex, and I met Loki on a nice Saturday afternoon. He was with a family looking to find him a new home.

He lived with a human mother, her daughter, and her daughters two year old son. This particular two year old spent the majority of our time there yanking on Loki’s leash and hitting him for not going with him when he pulled. <insert sarcasm> I wonder where he got that from <end sarcasm>. It’s also important to mention a few other things that we noticed. He scratched a lot. She said it was because he only wore a collar when he went out to potty. We discovered the real reason why later. The collar was brand new. The leash was brand new (and tacky 🙂), etc.

Loki barked when he first saw us. After that, however, he was all tail wags and wet kisses.

There was no doubt in my mind that he wasn’t in the greatest place, that he liked us, that he had Odin’s look in his eyes but was his own unique dog, and that I was in love.

To be fair, I tend to fall in love with every animal I meet, but he had something special.

We told the woman that we needed to talk about it and left her home. Long story short, we went back to get our new pup. When we arrived back there was an older wound on his forehead. The woman proceeded to tell us that he got it from digging in the yard. She covered it with mascara to hide it from us.

Hello, alarm bells! But, there was no way I was leaving him with her. No way in Hell.

So, we put him in our car. This was clearly a new thing for him. We took his Kroger store brand dog food that only had a few cups worth left and his cat sized food and water bowl combo and headed home. I didn’t even bother taking that bowl combo in the house. There was no way it would hold even a fourth of the food he needed per meal. Grrr!

When we got him home, we proceeded to introduce him to the family. We started with my mom’s dog, Coco.

My parents live with us so Coco lives here too. We met outside on a more neutral territory than inside and it went fine. He did well with my mom too. Then we went into the house and he did great meeting my oldest stepson, Devon, who lives with us. So far so good!

Then, my 80+ year old father innocently (although naively) did the worst thing you could do to a now obviously unsocialized pup…

He came up the stairs and proceeded to act similar to a gorilla when approaching him. My dad was simply trying to make friends by playing rough house. He missed his buddy Odin a whole lot. But of course Loki did not understand this behavior.

He immediately went crazy and who could blame him? The poor guy was scared to death!

Needless to say it took a long time and a lot of grandpa giving treats to get Loki to trust him. They are doing great now and since Loki is such a smarty, he goes to his grandpa for his daily cookie(s) and doesn’t leave him alone until he gets one. He puts his paw on his arm and my dad loves it.

Loki 1

The moment I could finally sleep after Odin passed was when Loki napped in his old place.

Then, after over a month, my youngest stepson, Christian came to stay.

Loki was not happy about a stranger in the house. He didn’t calm down completely until he left two days later. Now, I knew enough to know that he wasn’t properly socialized and I needed to work with him on it. I didn’t quite know how to start. I hadn’t had a dog with theses issues growing up and as I said in a previous post, Odin was a neighborhood favorite. I was way out of my league.

Thankfully, I had already signed up for a training program with Canines With A Cause. My hope was for Loki to become an emotional support dog or even a full service dog for mt PTSD.

By the time my training orientation rolled around, I knew he had socialization issues yet he never took it beyond growling and barking. I was nervous about how well I could control his barking, growling, and pulling on our first training day and excited to get some direction for the both of us.

Everything changed on our first day on training. He bit one of our trainers. Twice.

I had a dog that bit me on the way home from the pound when I was ten. He bit me once more when I woke him from a dream. He chased a man out of my closet when I wasn’t home saving my sister from something horrible.

I’ve never had a dog that bit strangers in my life. Ever. I was freaked the *&)^ out!

I had surgery on my wrist two days later so, my husband drove me to our next training. When our lead trainer said he wanted to talk to us after class I was scared we were getting kicked out. I didn’t think they would just yet, but I couldn’t help fearing it just the same. I didn’t fear for me. I feared for Loki. He needed this.

Then we had the reactive dog talk.

The lead trainer spent the majority of the talk giving Loki treats while sitting next to him on the floor. At one point he touched his back and Loki immediately bit his hand. He bit the lead trainer. I was devastated!

The bad news: he took a bite out of the trainer

The good news: it was a warning “don’t touch me” bite not a “I want to kill you” bite

So, here we are, nearly a week later with training class again tomorrow. I’ve worked with him as best I can with one hand. I’ve sat across from barking dogs and click & treated him. I’ve done the same at our home where he barks at the people, cars, and dogs he can see from our second floor balcony/deck.

I know it won’t be an overnight success. I just pray that he won’t bite a trainer tomorrow.

Wish us luck!

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Where We Came From

Hi!

I am a disabled veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which, has greatly affected how I deal with social situations. I began noticing symptoms around the beginning of 2000. After loosing friends in the September 11th terrorist attack on the Pentagon, my symptoms progressed to the point where I wouldn’t leave my home by myself by the beginning of 2002. I began thinking about getting a dog. I always wanted a German Shepherd after knowing one as a child. I knew that I would feel safer with a big dog and that I would have to leave the house to walk one.

Enter my puppy soulmate: Odin

Odin1

Odin Sleeping – 9yrs old

Odin saved my life by saving my sanity. First, it was just having the company of unconditional love, and at that age, loads of energy. That energy led to long walks getting me out of the home. I began to take him to a dog park where there were a handful of regulars. I felt safe around the humans in the dog park because there were so many dog around.

Overtime, I began to notice that Odin would react to my panic attacks. A hyper puppy would shift to a calm puppy that would lay still while I hugged him during an attack. This brought me back to the hear and now which, is so important for those of us with PTSD. Odin truly became my un-official service dog. For nearly 11 years, I had a trusted companion that I loved more than myself. He was even the favorite of the neighborhood. Then he git very sick, very fast, and he was gone.

There are no words to express the pain I felt and continue to feel after losing Odin.

I could write a book about how amazing he was and how big of an empty space he left in our house that would be longer than the novel, War and Peace. Although the decision to get a new dog was very hard, it was a natural choice. I hadn’t slept through the night, and often not at all, since Odin passed. So the hunt for just the right pup began. I knew that I would know when I met the right one and sure enough I did. He came in the form of a 4 month old Belgian Malinois.

We named him Loki, Odin’s adopted son in Norse mythology, and this blog is his story.

Loki

Loki after a great walk in the park.

I look forward to sharing how we met and where we are now as we begin training together with you. I know we will have a lot of ups and downs, but in the long run we hope to be great companions who work together to keep calm (and carry on).