Meet Poppy; The Spotlight Dog for December 2019
I adopted Poppy from a local dog rescue in July 2019.
She was just 18 months old and had been surrendered twice. She was surrendered first at 9 months old and again just a week before I adopted her. Poppy is a Maltese/Poodle mix, or Maltipoo. She is as cute as can be and loves to play with toys, especially ones with squeakers. She can be very affectionate but had some major behavioral problems, the main one being biting.
She was also not housebroken and could be very aggressive towards other dogs. In addition, she was blind due to genetic cataracts. I decided to adopt her because upon reading her history I felt that since she had already been surrendered twice, her chances of adoption were slim. I felt that I had the time to devote to her to try and correct the behavioral problems that she had developed over her short life.
Immediately after adoption, I scheduled appointments with a regular veterinarian at Family VetCare of Chandler and with an ophthalmology vet at Eye Care for Animals in Gilbert, AZ.
Both veterinarians felt that she was a good candidate for surgery. However, it would be almost two months before the surgery could be scheduled so I asked the veterinarians for a recommendation about where I could receive some private in-home training for Poppy and me. As a previous dog owner, I was aware that I would need as much training, if not more, than Poppy.
I was attached to her from almost the first day and the adoption was final in my mind. Now it was up to me to re-train both of us so she could be the companion she was meant to be.
The veterinarian at Family VetCare of Chandler recommended East Valley K9 Services and that is how I first met Steve. We started weekly training sessions in my home within the first week that I had Poppy and the change was immediate. I was right in my first assumption; I needed the training as much, if not more, than Poppy.
With Steve’s simple and direct guidance, we started making progress. Steve’s comment at the end of the first session was something like, “Poppy is not really an aggressive dog, she is just very smart and has learned to control most of the humans in her life through her behavior.” Thus, I had to work very hard to become the leader in our relationship.
At first, I had to use bite gloves to work with her while trying some of the handling exercises that Steve showed me and at other times when she was out of control. Riding in a car was a real experience for both of us; she barked continuously and did everything to get out of any restraints I placed on her.
At the beginning, I still got bitten occasionally but after the first few days, her attempts to bite became less aggressive and became more of a threat than a real physical attack. It was difficult to tell if she had been abused or if her lack of eyesight caused her to overreact to situations. However, Steve kept reminding me not to dwell on her past or feel sorry for her, but to concentrate on the “now” and the “future”.
We worked with Steve for 5 weeks and the progress was amazing. By the time she was scheduled to have her surgery about 4 weeks into the training, the ophthalmologist was amazed at the change in her behavior. When she went to the regular vet for her shots and annual check-up in October, they said that she was like a totally different dog.
They no longer needed to muzzle her to examine her and administer shots. Although her blindness was certainly not the only cause of her behavior, it had obviously contributed to it. Immediately upon being able to see, the aggressive behavior diminished even more.
She now loves to ride in the car and greets people and dogs in a much friendlier manner. She is almost too friendly towards some people so now we are working on how to properly greet people. She does not get to jump up and lick people to death upon meeting them.
In November, we joined a group obedience class at East Valley K9 Services taught by Brandy and Steve. During that class we worked on basic commands and Poppy is making progress. She still reacts to other dogs with a growl at times but she continues to be less aggressive and I am going to enroll in their Walkabout Class after the first of the year to work on more socialization skills.
The most important part of this story is how Poppy has had such a positive impact on my life; she is becoming a true companion. As I become trained, she becomes an even better companion. The big problem I have is that she is so cute that I sometimes forget what my job is and then we backslide a little. I know that we are both going to continue to improve our skills and I am looking forward to a lot of years with Poppy by my side.
Sun Lakes, AZ