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Discussion Starter #1
I asked this on an "Ask the experts" thread on another forum and would just like others opinions.

I have an eight year old blind and mostly deaf golden (failed foster) I adopted a few months ago. At home, she's very happy and confident. Greets visitors happily, both dog and human. She gets a couple of good long walks a day and has access to the backyard when I am home.

I have two other dogs who take turns coming to work with me who absolutely love being around lots of people and being in social situations. Kyra (the blind dog) just panics She is terrified if she doesn't know what's going on and with limited senses and not knowing who or where something or someone will approach her she starts shaking and running in circles.

She is never home alone. One of the other dogs is with her or we are all together. She has some socialization and variety through guests and family and visiting friendly dogs at the house. My question - should I try to work with her on being more comfortable in a strange situation? How far should you go in trying to teach an older dog new behaviors?
 

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I would encourage doing anything that will make her life more comfortable. 8 is not too old to learn new behaviors, and being more confident in social situations will be good for her, you, and the other dogs.

With a dog like this, there will be a fine line between offering her support in new situations and rewarding unwanted behaviors (the panicking, etc). I'd attempt short trips to a new place, maybe going in for only a few minutes, giving her a high value treat, then leaving, without making much fuss... build up to longer stays. Support and encourage her when she's doing well, and be "jolly" and cheerily supportive (It's FINE! You're doing GREAT! Good GIRL!) if she acts uncomfortable, rather than the coddling and petting (Oh, it's okay... you're okay, good girl...) when she's upset. You don't want her to think that she's being reward that. She'll learn not that the situation is okay, but her panicky response to it is. The jolly routine works really well.
 

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I agree with PG. Anything that improves her life is a good thing. :) Keep new experiences below her panic threshold. If it's too much for her, try something easier next time - like greater distance between her and the new experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The problem isn't the new experience - it's groups of strange things and people suddenly touching or coming close. She loves the beach and running, she loves one on one meeting people and other dogs. Remember, this is dog with no vision and virtually no hearing. I haven't figured out yet what her sense of smell is like, my guess is it's not as good. She cannot find her tennis ball if it is not moving, which tells me she has some sense of movement, but can't see the exact toy or smell it. I've seen her be standing virtually on top of her toy and be seeking it out with her nose.

The last thing I want to do is limit her world and a very confusing world it is. I just don't want to torment her either.
 

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Does this in any way present a problem with her going to the vet or anything vital? If not, I don't see a problem with letting her stay home where she is comfortable and can understand her environment. It sounds like she is doing amazing as is.

If you do want to try to introduce her to the outside world, You might have to start very slowly and maybe even use one of your other dogs as "support" when/if you go away from home. Maybe try getting her used to "sudden touching or coming close" from you at home, then add people she knows and is comfortable with into the mix. If she gets comfortable with that, then you could consider taking her out into the big, wide world.

Is there a local dog therapy group? They might have more insight into your girl's unique situation and could give advice and encouragement.
 

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Dogs can always learn. If you can get her used to more experiences without putting through anything traumatic, it's probably worth the effort.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I do appreciate all of the opinions. Actually, she's come a long way in the last three months. Prior to that (from what I understand) she lived full-time in a small backyard with her 10 year old bonded partner. She relied on him for everything and was fearful of everything. She's a medical train wreck which I knew when I adopted her (and her partner). You name it - she's got it! Rescue spayed her, pulled all of her teeth, dealt with the ear infection and ruptured ear drum, shaved her down for matting (ugh! maggots! and ants!), found that her vision deficits were probably congenital.

She's gotten to the point where she is very relaxed at home, I can take her to the vet without huge problems (she'll never like it, but I think it's the linoleum floors as much as anything), we can go on long walks and as long as a bunch of kids or a large family doesn't come flying at her, she's fine. It's when we are walking through or around a lot of people or dogs (which I can't control) and when I've tried to take her to work that she has big time problems. She loves company at home as long as she can approach them, not them approaching her, first.

I definitely know you CAN teach and old dog new tricks, just am not sure if you always should. I also know that eight isn't that old for a golden, but seven and three quarters of those years were pretty bleak and they took their toll.
 

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I do appreciate all of the opinions. Actually, she's come a long way in the last three months. Prior to that (from what I understand) she lived full-time in a small backyard with her 10 year old bonded partner. She relied on him for everything and was fearful of everything. She's a medical train wreck which I knew when I adopted her (and her partner). You name it - she's got it! Rescue spayed her, pulled all of her teeth, dealt with the ear infection and ruptured ear drum, shaved her down for matting (ugh! maggots! and ants!), found that her vision deficits were probably congenital.

She's gotten to the point where she is very relaxed at home, I can take her to the vet without huge problems (she'll never like it, but I think it's the linoleum floors as much as anything), we can go on long walks and as long as a bunch of kids or a large family doesn't come flying at her, she's fine. It's when we are walking through or around a lot of people or dogs (which I can't control) and when I've tried to take her to work that she has big time problems. She loves company at home as long as she can approach them, not them approaching her, first.

I definitely know you CAN teach and old dog new tricks, just am not sure if you always should. I also know that eight isn't that old for a golden, but seven and three quarters of those years were pretty bleak and they took their toll.
I would probably try and consult with a veterinary behaviorist. This is the type of dog that I'd think pharma-therapy combined with behavior mod might really work well. Perhaps some short term pharma could help with some of the anxiety.
 

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I remember her story! I shall have to look it up again and refresh my pitiful memory.

She has made amazing progress. Do you still have her partner?

I think that as long as you can take her to the vet or anywhere vital, it is not necessary to introduce her to the larger world. Do you want her to have a wider experience because you think she should or because you think she would like to?

Just something to think about. It wouldn't hurt to talk to a blind person about their relationship to the world. I had a couple of friends who were blind and they did not like to get into large new experiences since it was out of their comfort zone.

If you did take Kyra to work, could you start on a slow day when so much won't be going on and gradually add new experiences? What a dog with all its senses can handle will be too much for your lady. You will have to take the smallest of steps at a time.

I could never understand how anyone got through to Helen Keller. Kyra seems to be in much the same situation, but at least she got to experience the natural world some first.

Good luck and give her a hug for me! Give yourself one too for being so special!
 

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I asked this on an "Ask the experts" thread on another forum and would just like others opinions.

I have an eight year old blind and mostly deaf golden (failed foster) I adopted a few months ago. At home, she's very happy and confident. Greets visitors happily, both dog and human. She gets a couple of good long walks a day and has access to the backyard when I am home.

I have two other dogs who take turns coming to work with me who absolutely love being around lots of people and being in social situations. Kyra (the blind dog) just panics She is terrified if she doesn't know what's going on and with limited senses and not knowing who or where something or someone will approach her she starts shaking and running in circles.

She is never home alone. One of the other dogs is with her or we are all together. She has some socialization and variety through guests and family and visiting friendly dogs at the house. My question - should I try to work with her on being more comfortable in a strange situation? How far should you go in trying to teach an older dog new behaviors?
Our beloved Goldens are brilliant and are always capable of adapting and learning new behaviours! As proof I have a close to 15 year old disabled Golden that is constantly adapting and learning new modes of communication as his ever increasing disabilities occur. It is a constant source of amusement and pride as he tackles each new hurdle that confronts him. For your new sweetheart, patience and love will help her realize she is in a secure situation. Good luck!
 

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Is is possible to take her to work when no one else is there? Along with one of your other dogs? I think she'd benefit from the opportunity to explore and get the layout without also having to deal with people coming at her.

You can work up to having her there on a less busy day. Maybe have a special treat to hold to her nose to lead her up to people to meet.

I think you also have to consider that she's quite happy and content in her world at home. It's safe, predictable and she knows she's loved. For many dogs (and people) that's enough!

God bless you for giving her your loving home and wanting to make her life the best it can be.
 

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"I think you also have to consider that she's quite happy and content in her world at home. It's safe, predictable and she knows she's loved. For many dogs (and people) that's enough!"

I sure agree with this. I hope your old couple is doing well and enjoying their new life. It is so much more then they ever had and I'll bet they are so very happy.:);):p:
 

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Thank you all. I've been going along with taking things at Kyra's pace. I do not keep her from people or places, but if she starts to panic we return to the comfort zone. It has slowly been expanding! She is now less afraid of on-coming people and dogs when we walk (as long as they do not try to force their attentions on her). If she is allowed to approach them, she's fine.

I doubt that I will ever be able to take her in to work, which is very disappointing. It's a retail establishment and I have no way of predicting how busy it will be each day. Families are used to my having friendly, outgoing dogs in the store and often the children are a little over-enthusiastic for her. As owner and sole employee, if my dogs want to eat I need to tend to the customers.

Chance has always come to work and enjoys and knows many of the customers. Buddy is the "Senior Fred Astaire" of the book world! This guy was born to greet and bring smiles! He is Kyra's bonded partner and loves coming to work. Chance and Buddy each spend half a day at work and half a day entertaining Kyra. Kyra is the queen of her domain and seems to enjoy the position.

Unless there is a dramatic change in Kyra, I think I'll just keep going as I'm going. I have no idea what Buddy and Kyra's history is other than they were turned in to be euthenized at the pound in August. They've both come a long way in a few months and they sure have me wrapped around their paws (and Chance's).
 

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thanks for the wonderful update. It sounds like things are going very well for you and yours. Kyra, Chance and Buddy sure have a good life and I know you love having them around. I am glad Kyra's comfort zone is expanding too.

I hope you have a wonderful New Year.
 

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Thank you so much for taking this pair and having patience with them. It sounds like they are living the great life they were meant to live because of you. Give all of them a big hug! Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!
 
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