Friday, January 21, 2011

Update on my new boy

It's been a little over a month now since Justin Hayward, the Great Dane, joined my household. As detailed in this post from last month, I got Justin from Gentle Giants Rescue, and he was just over a year old.

I knew there would be a period of adjustment--for BOTH of us--and I'd say we're still in it, although things are moving along nicely.

Justin had terrible separation anxiety issues, completely understandable considering how he'd been--in HIS mind--abandoned more than once. (It's unfortunate that pets can't have things explained to them, like "your mom is dying of cancer and THAT'S why she has to give you up, not because she doesn't love you or you've done anything wrong," and instead they just know that the person(s) they loved abandoned them.) The first day I had him he literally couldn't stay on the other side of the bathroom door when I'd go in there. Then over the next few days I made sure I shut the door so he had to wait on the other side--and he did, but whining a pitiful whine. A few more days and he stopped whining and just settled down on the carpet and waited for me to reappear. NOW he doesn't even bother following me at times!

He reacted similarly when I'd move out of his line of sight by going outside, like to turn the sprinklers on or put something in the trash. He'd watch through the window until losing sight of me, then he'd start whining and yelping, running around the house trying to get a glimpse of me.

Proud "parent" of a rescued dog merchandise

Leaving him home for short trips out, like doctor appointments or picking up prescriptions, was a BIG DEAL. My mom would stay here with him, but the moment he'd lose sight of me as I backed out of the driveway, he'd start running wildly around the house, yelping and whining and barking. Twice he the house. *sigh* (Trust me on this, there's just NOTHING like Great Dane shit in the house!)

I made it a point to work on his separation anxiety by gradually increasing the number of short trips I made. Prior to leaving I'd make sure my mom had a nice big snack--something Justin could chew on for a long time--to give him shortly after I left. And when I'd get home--and he'd be FRANTICALLY running around me, yelping and nipping at me because he was so happy to see me--I'd very calmly walk in, say in a calm, soft voice "come on, Justin, let's go outside," and we'd go out and let him calm down. I knew that, over time, as he saw the pattern of "Mommy goes out, Mommy comes back," he'd calm down and not worry any more, and we're ALMOST there. I was out for over two hours yesterday and my mother reported that he was the best he's been so far. He watched me leave but settled down quickly. Also, when I get home now he's no longer frantically excited. He's still happy to see me, but it's just a lot calmer!

Let's see, what else? Oh, I bathed him for the first time yesterday--and he loved it. He's going to be a lot of fun this summer--I'll get him a wading pool and let him have at it. When I'm TRYING to fill up the birdbaths Justin insists on darting in and out between the nozzle and the birdbath, biting at the water stream and trying to get wet. Of course when he does that, the water bounces off of him and onto me. Oh well, I'm waterproof.

He had his first official visit with my vet today. (I'd taken him in earlier this month just to introduce him and weigh him.) There's an area on his neck/chest that's been itching for a couple days, and he's scratched/licked it raw. The vet took scrapings but didn't find anything, so we're treating it topically with Betagen and we'll revisit it in a week if he's not better. We tried to get his weight, but he refused to stay still and/or not lean on the wall long enough to get an accurate reading! Based on how much he'd gained earlier this month, they recorded his weight as 138--which is a 15 pound gain since I got him on December 12. Like I said, we know that's not accurate, but he's somewhere in the 130s.

When it comes to clipping his nails, Justin is the easiest dog I've EVER had. He just lies there and doesn't act fazed by it at all. I thought my beautiful Freddie was pretty good about it, but Justin is amazing.

Also today we had our first outing to Petco.

It's so weird having an [almost] adult Dane whose behavior in any given situation is an unknown to me. I mean, he's VERY sweet and friendly, but I don't feel that I truly KNOW yet how he'll react to strangers, either human or non-human. So I made it a point both at the vet's office and Petco to tell people I've only had him a month, and I'm unsure of what to expect. He was good with the dogs he met today, and he's always good with people he meets.

I'll post some new pics of Justin one of these days. I'm too lazy right now to dump them from my camera, so it'll have to wait!


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