Zimmy, a Bichon, arrived from a breeder who kept him in a cage likely for his full 8 years and used him frequently for breeding. When Zimmy arrived he was not walking, would not look up at all and just curled into a ball when alone. In a kennel, he would poop and pee to make his new environment like what he was used to all those years of living in his own excrement. I had to bathe him to get off the stuck on feces and urine and to see what shape his skin was in. He was stiff and stoic during the entire bath. I used a cream rinse so I didn’t have to remove any of his hair and towel dried him. I did trim around his paws, his beard and cut his nails without a single protest. Skin was very fine and pink and his coat was thin. If you picked him up he was stiff as a metal rod but did not fight. He has never shown any signs of aggression and just stayed inside himself ignoring the world around him. Once placed into a larger play and sleep area he still stayed in one place. By the end of the first week he began to walk, pretty unsteady at first but got better as the days went on. His muscles were understandably weak.
By the second week he was getting pretty good at walking and was moved during the day to an outside play area with plenty of shade and water. Right away I noticed that he marked everything in his reach. If there were 3 toys he marked each separately and never seemed to stop marking any time he was moving! His water intake had been really low since his arrival and his urine extremely concentrated. We assumed he did not have water access at all times where he was living. The second week he looked up at me and later on that week wagged his tail. Still did not like to be petted or picked up but tolerated the carrying to get him from his outside play area to his inside sleep and play area. Still marking everything in his path and spending 70% of his time in one place curled up. Outside he has a 30×30 ft area to explore. He stopped doing his business right where he stayed and actually went to the farthest point of the yard to poop. Marking is constant when he is in motion.
Week 3 he was moving really well and could move away from me every time I went to pick him up or pet him. Introduced him to stairs which absolutely terrified him. Tried putting him on the second of a 3 step set only to have him fall off to the side. Tried the top step with my hand behind him and he finally got the idea. Starting to drink more water. He became much more relaxed when picked up and I took advantage of holding him to give him lots of petting and love.
Week 4 he started to get more and more aware of his surroundings and the other dogs. I let one of my dogs go into the 30×30 area with him. He took notice but was not interested in play or interaction.
Week 5 I found him still within the fenced area but by the backdoor which meant he went up the 3 wooden steps to the side deck on his own. I quietly went out onto the deck and to get away from me he slowly went down the steps and back to the main yard. He started looking up at me every time he saw me and getting up and moving around much more frequently. I noticed he did not hear me if I came up behind him but as soon as I came into sight, he got up and moved away. I checked his hearing and he has lost some but is not deaf. Could have been an untreated ear infection in his past.
Week 6 he learned to run! He looked like a free bird running and hopping from place to place with a look of sheer pleasure on his face. When I come up to him, he is less likely to move out of the way so I start by petting him before I pick him up. Leash training has been attempted since week 1 but absolutely a complete failure so far which is why I have to carry him so often. He has always eaten very well but slowly and not protective. Toys have not interested him from his first day but he checked out a hard bone chew. He will eat his flea, tick and heartworm medication without prompting.
Week 7 I started using a male wrap on him each night when inside just to control the marking issue. He never touched them and they were really full every morning. We were hoping this wrap would help and that neutering would help as well. So far 3 weeks past his neutering no change. To allow him to wander the house when I am present, he wears the wrap and is delighted to wander the rooms lifting his leg everywhere but thank goodness the wrap catches it all.
Currently he has a schedule of bedtime, mealtime, outdoor and indoor times. He is a happy boy but still would prefer no petting. He is starting to tolerate it more and a visitor petted him as he would have any of our dogs and he did not move away. 2 months now and he is starting to be more comfortable with his environment to the point where he needs his own family to bond to. He will need the wrap anytime he is in a home and we are hopeful that this might get better with time but he may always need this wrap. Otherwise he seems content. Still no tolerance for a leash. He does not mind dragging a light-weight leash around with him.
He deserves a family of his own who are willing to use the wraps and continue his progress in human acceptance. After those 8 years, he really is a different dog compared to the curled up ball of fur that arrived. He should continue his growth. With all he had to overcome, the progress in 2 months is really remarkable. So please consider adopting this special little guy (about 18 pounds) for life.
From his foster mom