Language is so important with a rescue/new amputee as I am discovering. Dudley and I hit a wall these past few weeks and had the breakthrough a few days ago. He had been living on the streets and then spent 900 days in the rescue that I adopted him from. His amputation was in February of this year and he had a difficult recovery from it. He was starting to shut down emotionally before he was able to be brought into his foster home where he started thriving again before he came to our home in Oregon from Texas.
The wall that we hit hard was centered around bathroom time. A few days ago I was trying to get him to go out to potty and he wasn’t having it. Even lifting up his bed to try and coax him up so I could get him towards the door wasn’t working. He growled and then he really growled. He has never snapped at me or given me any signals beyond the growling. I accepted the fact that he was not going to get up and didn’t want to stress him any further. No scolding or punishing him for speaking to me in the only way he knew how. I said to him “if you get a bladder infection, we will deal with it. If you end up going to the bathroom inside, it’s fine.” We did his dinner time a few hours later and I gave it another try. And that’s when the lightbulb went off.
This dog, who had been living in a rescue, is used to doing bathroom business after eating. The rescue facility has open access to a fenced area but for some reason, his brain says “eat then pee/poo” We now have less battles between us since I finally figured out what he was trying to tell me. He has breakfast when I get up for work at 5:30 am…we go out for a little walk across the road, he sniffs things and does both bits of bathroom business. My mom comes over to take him out while I’m at work, they do their little walk along the road and he does his sniffing/social/bathroom business. I get home from work around 2:30 pm…he goes outside to inspect the driveway and goes back inside. We do dinner at 5 pm and go out for more bathroom business.
He is used to a schedule and I was trying to adjust it for him. The ironic thing is that my late husband was very regimented/OCD. I am more the organized chaos type of person. Once I realized what language Dudley was speaking, things became much better between us. My worries about him getting a bladder infection were actually making things worse by my forcing him to get up and go outside. There has been a recent shift in his behavior after I realized what he was telling me and followed through. He now will lay on the floor behind my computer chair in the evening instead of on his bed. He wants to be closer to me and I think it has something to do with our shift in communication.
Language is so important, whether us speaking to each other or speaking to our animals. It’s more than words, especially with our animal companions, we have to be able to read their body language as well. They tend to tell us more with their body language than their growling/barking/grunting/whining. Dudley is starting to communicate with me more as a permanent person in his life. We went into the woods down our usual road today and he was running ahead and then stopping and waiting for me. Usually he is all “whatever!!! I’m going to run until I don’t want to anymore” He was stopping and looking back at me until I said that he could keep going. He is also getting better about waiting when I tell him to wait. Being a tripawd, the momentum thing means that he doesn’t instantly stop when I say stop. He’s getting better at it without any sort of training. So I guess the cozy new blanket I bought for him and the soft fluffy little floor rug are a well earned reward <3