Khloe is an 8 month old, boxer/mastiff mix pup, who weighs about 55 pounds. Her entire litter was found abandoned in a box in a dumpster when you they were very young puppies. She arrived at HOPE in early June 2018 and is quickly learning basic skills, as well as to feel comfortable in the presence of other dogs. She loves being around people and enjoys their affection. Khloe’s perfect home situation would have no other dogs.
This week Khloe went out and met her prospective adopters and their dog at a neutral site. Given that the adoption hinges on how Khloe and their dog get along, it was great hearing that their initial introduction went well and that the process will progress with further meet and greets. Khloe has come a long way in her 10.5 weeks here and it’s great knowing that she is on the verge of doing something nobody thought was plausible in actually living with another dog. The fact that the idea was entertained and now being pursued says a lot about everyone involved and their willingness to go above and beyond to make this a real possibility. I think I speak for everyone when I say that this is why we do what we do. I'm glad that I’m able to be a part of it all and help how I can. My role is easy, but it’s the volunteers, trainers, and rescues who do all the sacrificing and put in the effort along with the adopters to make this work. Khloe’s adoption isn’t finalized or guaranteed, but it looks good and it also epitomizes what this program is about from top to bottom... Also, new dog Penny came in this week and Khloe did great with her from the beginning. There’s a significant size difference which makes playing hard, but they get along and have yet to have an issue even with a toy involved. They did a great job sharing and letting the other play with the ball.
The best thing about this week was hearing about Khloe’s meet and greet with her prospective adopters and their dog. Khloe is as ready as she’ll ever be and deserves a forever home, so we’re all optimistic about her opportunity. Her prospective adopter gets to see her regularly, which is a great thing, because not only is he getting to know her, but he’s also getting to know how she is in certain situations. That understanding will go a long way with the upcoming meet and greet and hopeful adoption. Other than that, it’s been just another week. Other handlers continue to work with her and we even switch dogs for the day, which is something that I think has helped Khloe tremendously. Not only do they do a great job working with her, but they’ve prevented some potential attachment issues with her. She’s well trained and can be handled by anyone, and I credit their willingness to do so with that.
There’s nothing groundbreaking to write about this week because much of it was spent trying to desensitize Khloe and Diesel toward one another. We’ve done a lot of parallel walking and other things to make it happen, but we are not quite there yet. They are able to co-exist together and aren’t trying to attack each other on sight so it’s just a matter of time before it happens. They’ve been really close together but the issue is that one of them will inevitably become too anxious to play and set off a reaction. Khloe and Gia have gone from enemies to best friends and play great together. They haven’t been off leash, but they play daily and seem to never get enough of each other. Khloe and Zoey are still at odds, but it’s easily managed. Khloe wants to play with her really badly but Zoey just isn’t having it... One of the funniest things that Khloe does is something I wish I could teach her to do on command. Once a dog comes into sight at a distance, she will drop to the ground wanting to approach. When we do, she crouches really low and looks like a panther as she prowls towards them. It isn’t aggressive, but it’s intense and hilarious to watch her stalk a playmate before she pounces on them... Khloe‘s prospective adopter worked the block over the weekend and got the chance to spend some time with her. More importantly, they got to see her interact with other dogs, good and bad, and were able to better understand how she is.
The best thing that happened this week was that Khloe met her prospective adopter and did great. She spent some time with him and did really well listening and getting along with him so hopefully everything works out and she gets a forever home. There’s still some steps that need to be taken in the process so it’s not guaranteed, but everyone involved is going out of their way to make it possible, which is greatly appreciated and hopefully well worth the extra effort needed to make it happen. Khloe and Gia are actually starting to become friends, which is something even I didn’t think would happen. They spent weeks as rivals who couldn’t really be around each other, but now they play together. Two new dogs are in the program now, which makes things interesting, to say the least, but Khloe is doing OK with them. She is fine with Shadow and will be fine with Diesel soon. We spend a lot of time in the same area, walking and just relaxing in order to make them comfortable. Their interactions are brief and their reactions are derived from curiosity and frustration to play, not aggression. Khloe continues to work with other handlers, which is proving to be great for her. They do a great job with her and she responds very well to them.
Believe it or not, Khloe has made significant progress with Gia this week. Khloe has been fine with all the male dogs for a few weeks now but had remained extremely reactive towards the females and struggled to co-exist with them in close proximity. Over the weekend, I focused on this issue and spent time doing different things to desensitize her, and with the help of other handlers, it’s working. Khloe did really well yesterday while we lingered in the vicinity of Gia so we ended up doing some parallel walking out in the grass, away from distractions. Khloe and Gia both did great, while showing positive body language toward each other, which led us to actually being able to introduce them for the first time! Gia allowed Khloe to sniff and they laid down face-to-face with wagging tails without any kind of reaction at all. We didn’t force the issue and push it any further than that, nor will we for a while, but we’ll continue to work on it with hopes of a peaceful existence between them. Other than that, other handlers have been working with Khloe, and she is doing great with them. They are doing a good job with her too, by generalizing her training and conditioning her to be handled by anyone, not just me. Khloe’s 'stays' are much improved so hopefully she shows it at training and doesn’t make a fool out of me. Haha.
This week the rain affected everything we would typically do so the majority of our time was spent inside, where it was predominately 'play time' for Khloe. As expected, she had cabin fever and was full of pent up energy, but she was also throughly entertaining as she played with each and every toy she had. She didn't even need me to play with her because her two favorite things to do are chasing her tail and chasing balls that she tosses herself. Haha. With the way I have the cell arranged, she's able to just have at it until she needs to recharge for the next round. I don't like all of this rain, but Khloe definitely made the most out of it and entertained me in the process... Khloe spent an afternoon and evening with another handler this week and did well. We switched dogs, just to change things up and do something different, while also making sure that no excessive attachment issues develop. It's great for training purposes too.
Khloe tried out the pool for the first time and ended up having the last laugh! She likes water, but was hesitant at first, so I picked her up and placed her in. She stood still and allowed me to rub water on her. She then began walking around the pool and I tried to engage her in play by splashing. I thought it was funny and my efforts worked because she started playing around, bouncing and mouthing the water. Little did I know she was going to get me back for splashing her! She turned her back to me and started pawing at the water as if she were digging... She got me good! Khloe's 'stays' are improving and I'm able to have her stay in the dog run while I walk anywhere inside. We are still working on 'stay' with distractions, but she's getting there. Other handlers have been working with Khloe on a near-daily basis and she is doing very well with them also. She even does well if I'm still around. Everything is going fine with her and the male dogs, but she's not a big fan of the girls.
This week, Khloe was brought to a weekly depression group where she served her purpose and lifted the spirits of those in attendance. It was her first time in a settling like that and she did really well with how she went from person to person, greeting them and taking treats. Once group started, she spent most of the time relaxing on the floor, with the occasional greeting, but not in a distracting manner. Khloe continues to socialize well with the male dogs, but she seems to have become obsessed with Dexter. I don't know why, but she loves him and tries to provoke him into play. The female dogs are a work in progress, but she is at least able to be close to the group training circle without melting down. The focus of this week's training was 'focus,' specifically 'stay' and 'leave it.' We are trying to increase duration and distance on her 'stays'. She's doing a lot better with 'leave it.' We also started working on 'back.' Finally, Khloe and Ollie had a good weekend playing in the dog yard.
This week Khloe had a significant breakthrough and has taken tremendous strides in overcoming her only barrier to adoption, which is her reactivity towards other dogs. She has gone from lunging aggressively at the sight of dogs, to now playing with four of the other six dogs here in the program! With the help and cooperation of everyone involved, Khloe was able to be put into positive situations on a daily basis, where she was able to build trust and gain confidence. In doing so, Khloe’s reactivity gradually reduced and her body language began to change, which is how I knew it was time to push her boundaries with certain dogs. On Friday evening, while interacting one on one with Calvin, Khloe laid down for the first time, which led to her first proper greeting of another dog! The introduction obviously went great, as they danced around each other and played for a few minutes before we went our separate ways, leaving on good terms. From then on, Khloe has been eager to play with the others, and has since become friends with Ollie, Dexter, and Reggie as well! Gia and Zoey are still works in progress, but I believe it’s only a matter of time before they can meet. They may not get along, but at least they can co-exist in peace. I’m going to try to get her in closer proximity to Gia and Zoey when they are engaged in play with Ollie and vice versa. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she’s okay with all of the male dogs, but not the female dogs. She’s still young, so I think her current reactivity needn’t continue to be a problem for her getting adopted.
This week has been very productive for Khloe, as she has been learning to tolerate the other dogs. Each day she gets exposed in different circumstances and different ways. With the exception of Gia, the other dogs aren't fazed by Khloe's reactivity, and this is are making desensitizing her easier. For a couple of weeks, Khloe's progress had been minimal in the sense that each encounter would require a restart, as though she forgot that the previous encounter was positive and non-threatening, but doing so has helped identify her triggers. Her tolerance has been building, though, and yesterday we had a breakthrough. After working one-on-one with Calvin, she was able to get close enough to sniff him. Later we all went out back to the kennel runs. Ollie was in the first one, Calvin in the middle, and Khloe was in the third one, without any reaction at all!
In only four days, Khloe has become a favorite among us and is adjusting very well to her new environment. She is very reactive to other dogs, so she is not being exposed to them more than necessary. In the instances it's unavoidable, her attention is diverted elsewhere so she doesn't fixate on the encounter. Because of that, I believe she will show significant improvement over time, and will be able to co-exist without overreacting. Aside from that, Khloe is great. She is very playful and energetic. She loves people, so being here will be enjoyable for her. Given that she bonds quickly, I've been having others play and work with her so that her attachment isn't just to me, and it doesn't become an issue. Khloe is very trainable and is doing excellent work learning basic skills. 'Touch' is one of the cues I've been focusing on because of how reactive she is to the other dogs. She is doing really well with that, both inside and outside. She has also learned 'down' and has a good understanding of 'stay' and 'leave it' without distractions. All in all, Khloe is great and doing well so far.