Skylar: Day 4

  Skylar is getting better with every passing day. She loves the treadmill, her barking has decreased dramatically, she’s learning to share resources and wait her turn, and she’s getting along beautifully with Glimmer and with Violet the cat. Indeed, she and Violet have become close friends over these past four days, and they spend a lot of time playing together. Violet initiates every play session and feeds Skylar’s instinctual need to herd. In return, Skylar gives Violet a gentle rough-and-tumble kind of play that she can’t get from Glimmer. The two have become fast friends and I know that when it’s time for Skylar to return home, Violet is going to really miss her.

Among Skylar’s many reported issues, one of her biggest problems is coping with people hugging each other. Skylar barks non-stop, she tries to force herself between the people hugging, and she has even nipped and tugged on their clothing to separate them.

Last night, my husband and I were in the living room having a moment of closeness and talking, when a song came on the radio that we both enjoy. We stood up and started to slow dance… and Skylar did not react. In fact, she gave us space by going to the top of the stair landing, sitting down, and then observing us calmly and quietly. When the song ended, she came to us calmly and asked for affection – which we gave her. Several minutes passed before the light went on in my brain and I realized the huge victory that had just occurred.

With the passing of each day in the program, Skylar is becoming calmer, gaining more confidence, and getting much better at controlling her excitement. I’ve been purposely taking her excitement to its highest possible level, holding it there for several seconds, and then bringing her back down to a calm state. Skylar is responding exceptionally well to this method of learning self control and I know that with continued practice, she will continue to progress.

Where her eating behavior is concerned, Skylar cannot be allowed to eat from her dish on her own. She is still going into panic mode, so she is still being hand-fed to prevent her from choking. On the plus side, she is starting to take the food more calmly, and without having to be told to be gentle beforehand. At this time, I can’t say for certain that she will ever be able to eat on her own, but at least she’s making progress with the feeding method.

Skylar’s confidence and ability to trust is slowly but steadily improving. When confronted with things that trigger her, she is starting to seek guidance more, and react less. This is a huge victory for her, as it means she’s starting to trust that I have the situation under control and that she’s safe. She still becomes reactive with certain loud sounds and sudden movements, but the intensity of her reaction has decreased significantly.

Overall, Skylar is making excellent progress. And we’re only four days into this 3-week program…

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