Happy Tails for Reilly

February 25, 2006

Dear LRR,

We have had Reilly now for almost a month and she has made tremendous progress! She has made a wonderful addition to our family and has become Jake’s (the black lab) best friend. A little story of her adventures so far follow…

Week 1

Reilly started off her new life here with us very frightened and unsure of herself (all normal behavior for a dog who was likely abused). The first week she spent just feeling comfortable enough to walk to her raised feeder. That is saying alot because girlfriend LOVES her food! It would take us a long time to coax her outside, and a long time for her to come in. She had a funky kind of aversion to doors opening. She would go into the “low profile” position (which looks like a canine version of spider man scaling the sidewalk) during her walks if she was startled. Oh, I should mention that everything startled her - people, things, bags in the street, leaves blowing, etc., or refrigerator, our standing cabinet, exercise ball, you name it.

Week 2

At the end of week 1 my sister, brother-in-law and my 5 month old nephew visit. Reilly warms up a little to everyone and is very curious about the baby by the end of the weekend. Still, it is clear that she is overwhelmed by all these people in our place and goes “home” to her crate. Reilly now realizes that she can’t be afraid of the feeder if she wants food. She is gaining some confidence and is starting this pogo stick like jumping at all hours of the morning for us to either a) get up or b)get up and feed her. We thought maybe she had to go out, but no, this was not the case. It would seem this was a game that she enjoyed very much. This canine scrambling(running in place), nail tapping, tail wagging and pogo jumping was not nearly as exciting to my husband, Jake and I. Reilly now has learned most of her basic commands at doggie school except the down and down stay. This position is still too vulnerable for her, and she is very headstrong and wants to be the boss. She is starting to warm up to us and trust us. She will now occasionally visit us when we watch television - huge progress in one week!

Week 3

We decide we have to put an end to the “pogo jumping, wake mommy, daddy and Big Jake up game.” I fill a spray bottle with an inch of water, turn it to mist setting and when Reilly decides at 4:30am on a Saturday that it is time, I surprise her and spray her in the face. As it turns out, this works, and she has not done it again. She stays on her bed like a good girl and waits for us to get up. (Way to go Reilly!!) Reilly follows us everywhere with a very cold and wet nose. We were warned of these “snottings.” Yes, I now have to watch for evidence of this event lower down on my black coat. Jake’s is usually just drool, you see he wears his water like Fu Manchu. Reilly is doing very well in dog class and did a “down” and a “down stay” in class. She even impressed the instructor! (brag, brag) Reilly walks nicely on a loose lead now but has the occasional low profile episode if startled. My parents came to visit. Reilly, surprisingly, does not even bark at them and further walks right over to my dad to be pet!! All dogs love my dad. She is a bit more afraid of men then women so we were surprised. She is really gaining some confidence now. She can be left out of her crate with no consequences for up to five hours now! She sleeps on her bed upstairs with Jake. She actually rarely goes in her crate any more which is wonderful. So, we are now close to our month long mark. Reilly is half way through dog class and has her homework lessons twice a day. She is the most excited, happy dog I have ever seen when I open the dog food container. She can be a pushy little twit, but she is hysterical. Her super excitable, fun loving personality is opposite my male lab’s Eyeore-like, laid back personality and the two of them are a real hoot to watch. Reilly now lets me pet her stomach and will sit by the back door automatically to be let out. She loves her walks and she really digs her food. She is a beauty who wags her entire body when she is happy or excited. The look on her little face is much more relaxed looking these days and she is very cute after she wakes up from a dog nap. She snorts when you pet her head and her eyes look half open when she wakes up. She starts her day with a morning ritual that involves rubbing her head and sliding/rolling her body all over the rug in the living room. This usually takes place when I am drinking coffee and Big Jake is sitting down calmly, observing the daily spectacle. I call it the “Dog circus.”

In short, we are so happy we made the decision to adopt Reilly and though she can be exhausting, it is definitely work the effort. She is a real gem and we can’t imagine not having her around. She has brought smiles to all of us (including Jake).


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