Saturday, January 28, 2012

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Thunder Shirt

By Fred

Cheryl and I were relieved to learn that Jam's limp was not due to some joint problem or injury--instead, he apparently just experienced a bout of growing pains, though "pain" probably isn't the right word since he never seemed to have any--at least he never winced or gave the slightest yelp. I guest you could call it a case of growing limps (or not). In any case, he's back on all fours.

We also are seeing much improvement with his separation anxiety. Here's a brief summary: sometimes when we leave Jam alone, whether it is in his crate or on a lead or in a room, sometimes even for a few minutes, he becomes anxious and begin to breathe heavily. His eyes glaze over a bit, and he will struggle to end his isolation.

This trait is at odds with his temperament otherwise, because he is the most fearless dog I've even seen. He loves the vacuum cleaner and any other device that makes noise. When I cranked up my air compressor the other day he even walked over and licked it. He walks alongside traffic, on boardwalks, etc., always cool and collected. He is the Fonz of dogs.

But no dog is perfect. We've been trying some new things to address his fear of being alone. (Thanks to Dr. Woodman and others for the suggestions.) First is the thunder shirt, which is an elastic vest that hugs the dog. I was more than skeptical at first, but it does seem to have a calming influence on Jam. Coincidentally, I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I put on my Home Depot back brace (or maybe I just think it makes me look cool).
Jam and his thunder shirt

Next we've placed a new crate downstairs and we're giving it all the positive vibes that a little place could get, with treats and toys and praises to Jam for going in on his own, which he will readily do because he doesn't fear the crate at all--he just doesn't want to be left alone there or anywhere for very long. We're also playing games where I go out one door and return though another, always with the leaving and returning a very positive thing. Cheryl's doing something similar at school. And Cheryl put a peanut butter Kong in the freezer to see if that will make a nice crate companion for him. Step by step, and we're seeing improvement at home and school.

Jam looking good. Damn!

Last night was a big dog meeting and a presentation by Jennifer Garrity of Southeastern Guide Dogs--I continue to be impressed by all the professional and nice people from there. Jam breathed heavily during much of the meeting and he let out little whiney noises. He very much wanted to check out an un-neutered black lab male just a few feet away. At 8 months old Jam is dealing with an ever increasing dose of testosterone in his system, but that, in dog life or human, is no defense for bad behavior.

At the meeting

Next month Jam goes in for breeder evaluation. More later...


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  2. I am so glad to see a Jam blog post! Just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog. Because of you, my husband and I went down to Southeastern recently for a puppy-hugging morning, and we're going to go back for a puppy-walking morning soon. We're also donating some stuff that they need (and we don't need). Thanks again, and please tell Jam he's one of the handsomest dogs in the world (though he probably knows it already).