January 2016 I received a call from a friend through one of the rescue groups I had volunteered for many years. She had been without a dog in her home since the passing of her previous dog, and was now ready to bring a new temporary companion into her house. She had been told of a male bully breed who was not meshing well in his foster home. Jean, who at this point, had no companion animals to speak of, thought she had a much quieter environment for him to adjust and move on to his forever home. She did not expect this guy whose head was too big for his body, and covered in sores which she would have to medicate twice a day. Johnny Depp was a little bit of a hot mess.
I met Johnny about a week into his stay with Jean. He spent most of that week working on housebreaking, going outside every 2 hours, pacing the house, going through his neuter surgery, pacing some more, and learning how to be inside a house for the first time in his life. The rescue stated he had been picked up as a stray, so his history up to that point was unknown. From the way he reacted to the house and his stance when first arrived, I am confident he spent the better part of his first 18 months on the end of a very heavy chain.
Jean and I decided the first thing Johnny needed was to reduce some of the stress in his life, so we worked on very easy things to get started, “touch” and “focus” were easy things that could be quickly rewarded to teach him how to think, and give him the opportunity to “win” this new game we were teaching him. We spent some time crate training him, so he felt safe inside the house, and to reduce the constant pacing. After about 3 weeks of working with him, the pacing transformed to following Jean around the house wondering what she was up to, and when he could nose touch for a cookie again.
Once he began to think a bit, he picked up cues very quickly. He struggled with the difference in “sit” and “down” partly because of the way his shoulders and back were not flexible enough from years of being on a chain, and partly because he would slide on the hardwood floors. It was endearing, and he tried hard so we didn’t push the issue.
Months flew by, Johnny continued to blossom in his foster home. He gained weight, learned how to walk on a leash, ride in the car, and explore the new exciting world that is city life. It was certainly a difficult move for him and quite the adjustment for his foster family.
I am happy to report that JD has completed his journey, and this year will be spending his first Christmas in his forever home, thanks to those who helped him on his journey.
Let me help you and your pup on your journey together this year!
New Year New Adventure!