Monday, July 27, 2009

Braden, the journey back to somewhere normal

I have decided to combine my art blog with a blog about our new member to our family. A couple weeks ago, my son Mickey(a wounded Iraq vet who lives with us) decided he needed a dog. Our border collie, Sarah, who had been his friend thru all his surgeries and therapy had passed away at the age of 16.(we got Sarah in April 2004 at the age of ten-just two months before Mikey was blown up by an IED in Iraq. When he came home Sarah and he would walk and talk for hours-she was constantly by his side. When he started having seizures at night, it was Sarah who let us know. She was a kind and gentle soul and we missed her terribly.

We also suffered the loss of our little man, Wizzy. He had always had a heart condition and finally at the age of 15 succumbed to congestive heart failure. So, reeling from the two losses, we decided to adopt a friend for our remaining dog,Miko, who has been off by herself in the closet ever since her friends passed.

I went on line to Furry Kids' Refuge to find a little Shih tzu. The one I found was named Braden. Braden was a puppy mill rescue. We have always had strays and rescue dogs so after doing a little homework on the needs of a puppy mill rescue, we decided to take the plunge. Furry Kids' also had a little cocker spaniel that needed a home and after my son saw her picture, it was love at first sight. We had to wait a couple of weeks since the foster mom's place had a little touch of kennel cough when they added a couple dogs rescued from another puppy mill.

Finally, Saturday was the big day! We took Miko and headed out to Petco where the adoptions are held. Scooter,the cocker, was instantly taken with Mickey and he with her. Braden was unsure of all the goings on but out of his crate seemed to bond with Miko. We walked everyone together and all seemed to go well-so after the paperwork-we all headed home.

Braden, spent most of that first day in his crate with the door open. We put his halter on him as he tends to buck with just a collar on and we didn't want him to harm his neck when on the leash.

Everything to Braden is a new experience-he was even afraid of the grass. We are taking little baby steps. After he seemed more comfortable, we went out in our backyard which has a privacy fence to introduce him to the rest of our family-the cats. After several hisses, and a scene from a halloween movie with all of them in raised back position, they figured out that Braden and Scooter could care less about their species and everyone calmed down. Our alpha male cat, Tiger, however will need some additional time-he can't understand their indifference to him. He is used to everyone bowing down and kissing his feet-oh well, it's a new experience for all of us.

We tried several ways to make Braden comfortable in the yard so he could do his business(potting for those who don't own animals). Finally, we tried a long retractable leash so he could go away from us but still be under control in case he bolted. SUCCESS! We then retired back to the safety of my studio.

Meal time was a whole different issue. I put the water bowl and his food bowl by his crate but not in it. After about an hour-nothing. Then our little mentally challenged cat, Simba, went over and started eating the dog food-Braden watched warily. Finally, he went over and started sharing the food bowl with Simba. Simba retreated to let Braden eat in peace. Simba is such a good caregiver. Braden and he have bonded wonderfully. Braden even lets Simba lay within six inches of him-HUGE!

I spent the day on the floor in my studio reading-surrounded by tidbits of salami. The salami was to entice Braden to feel comfortable around me. At first, he was reluctant with just doggy treats(not enough smell). Salami, however, is a great bribe-at least for Braden. Braden, was not responding to his name at all. We understood that there would be a little disconnect since everything is new to him. I had been talking to him and started calling him Buddy. He connected with that name and would actually look at you and follow you-soooo-he is now Buddy.

I spent most of the rest of the first day on the floor at his level. Towards the evening I sat at my desk and worked at my computer. My husband came in from his den to check on us and was surprised to find Buddy under my desk right at my feet-so was I. After we return from outside to do his business, he usually paces for awhile and it takes him a little bit to calm back down and feel comfortable. Having Scooter has been a great thing as they were at the same foster mom's house so Buddy feels connected to something he is familiar with.

Well, then it was off to bed. We took Buddy and his crate up to our bedroom. We placed it next to our bed so he could feel safe in his crate but get used to the sounds and smells of our bedroom. He curled up on his pillow and went right to sleep. Tomorrow is a whole new day!

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