Jules -- part three
About half way through Jules' 4-week socialization camp (described in part two above), the dog psychologist called me and told me that Jules was definitely abused, probably beaten. She apparently also had bad kennel experiences at the breeder's facility, based on the psychologist's observations of Jules in the wire cage.
The psychologist contacted the breeder by telephone to try to find out what had happened to Jules in her first 14 months of life. She could not get a straight story from the breeder, except to say Jules had free run of the breeder's house, because she was one of her favorite dogs. The breeder gave the psychologist the same story she gave me -- Jules was "stubborn." I believe the family that had Jules for a while probably did the abusing, but we could never confirm it.
I do recall that when I first met Jules, she had a large and unsightly sore on one of her hips. If I recall correctly, the breeder told me it was a skin allergy (hot spot). However, when I took Jules to her first vet visit about a week after I got her, the vet said it looked like a "wound." I surmise that Jules may have been in a fight with another dog at the breeder facility. There were some aggressive male dogs there, and I think Jules may have been close to beginning her second heat cycle about the time I bought her. I got her spayed in August 2004, two weeks prior to her going to the camp. The vet surgeon told me there was no evidence of her being in heat.
I was so happy to see Jules on the day I picked her up from camp. She seemed so happy and confident. However, she still had a little way to go, and it took a while to get her to the 100 percent level of confidence with NO fear. A couple days after Jules got back from camp, my sister and her husband came to visit me for several days. I was disappointed that Jules acted a little strangely around my sister. She acted fearful around both my sister and brother-in-law, but only growled at my sister. It was a low, short growl, but not nice. She cowered from both of them and hid near me or behind large chairs and my sofa. She did sniff around their legs when they were not watching her. My sister, who also owned a golden at the time, really wanted to bond with Jules, and I felt sorry for her for not being able to - for fear of a fear-aggressive bite or nip.
I scheduled a quick follow-up training with the dog trainer (at the dog psychologist facility), and I was surprised to see how well Jules bonded with the 25 year old female trainer. My sister and brother-in-law went with me to the training session, and I walked through several commands with Jules. She was happy, confident and had a bouncy and sassy walk as we did HEEL.
It was apparent that Jules had some fears with middle-aged women. The trainer had indicated that she bonded better with men. Toward the end of the visit with my sister and brother-in-law, Jules was bonding better with my brother-in-law, but not so much with my sister. My sister did play with her outside, throwing toys in some short retrieval sessions. Jules was slowly getting more comfortable, but she had a way to go.
In March 2005, two friends of mine, a married couple, visited for about 4 days. Jules got along quite well with both of them.
I took Jules to several dog parks over the next several months. She did very well at those places, playing hard with other dogs and getting more sociable with people. I was very happy to see her get along well with younger kids too. She did not appear to be fearful around people. I can't recall her tail going down and her cowering any more during those times. She was slowly getting more confident and less fearful. She also loved car rides, and was no longer salivating or vomiting on car rides. It was a process. Each day got better
One of my regrets is my lack of strict training for Jules after she left camp. They provided me with a pretty detailed training regimen. I tried it for a while, but then I got lazy. Jules also got a little stubborn at times. She always had a problem with the SIT-STAY command.
I also gave her too many treats. She gained about 20 pounds in the first 12 months I had her. She ate good food, but I spoiled her with a lot of treats, rawhide, and other goodies in between her two healthy meals each day. I spoiled her with a lot of good stuff, like water beds and numerous toys (see attached images).
Another thing I noticed after camp is that Jules never jumped on furniture. Before she went to camp, she did jump up on my bed a few times (when I was not in bed). I can't recall one time in the 8+ years she was with me after camp that she ever got up unto the bed or any other furniture. She was pretty well behaved. She did pick up my socks from time to time in her first year with me, but dropped them when I told her to DROP.
Then came the second turning point in Jules' life. She went to a 10-day refresher training/socialization in August 2005, about 11 months after her first socialization camp. I took her to the same training facility. On the day I picked her up, she seemed so much better. She had come along such a long way since that hot July day in 2004, and I was so happy to see her get over her fears. I remember her in the car that day. She picked up a toy from the back of my car, and started to chew on it to find out if it squeaked. She loved squeaky toys. It was not a squeaky toy, so she made her own little squeaky sound as she pressed down on it. One of my great memories!
And it got even better for Jules! Part 4 to follow next week...