Deborah was ready to bring a new dog into her life after ten years of being without one. She got the very clear message, three nights in a row, from her Guides that it was time to get a dog and that she needed to go to the Humane Society. On the second night, she checked out the photos of the dogs on-line. None of the dogs looked special or appeared to have the spark she was looking for. The day after the third message, Deborah went to the Humane Society. Annie was the first dog Deborah saw and Deborah thought she was adorable and just right in color and size! When Deborah went back to the web site that evening, Annie’s photo showed her with had her ears plastered back and looking terrified. No wonder Deborah didn’t even notice her on line! Deborah knew this was the dog for her. Deborah brought Annie home the next day. Annie barely responded to her name, so Deborah re-named her Ravyn — and that’s the name that stuck!
Deborah contacted me not long after about talking to Ravyn. Ravyn was adjusting to living with Deborah but there were some behavior issues Deborah want to work on with Ravyn. One of the biggest issues was that Ravyn would potty in the house, especially during the night. Deborah also told me that Ravyn seemed to have her days and nights mixed up — she was sleeping a lot during the day and was up most of the night. When I asked Ravyn about this, my feeling was that this was habit behavior left over from her previous life with her last people.
When I asked Ravyn to show me what her life had been before the shelter, she showed me being isolated in one bare room almost 24 hours a day. She was alone in the room with minimal contact and was rarely let out. She ate, slept, pooped and peed in this room. The room was dark — day was not much different than night — and the feeling was overwhelmingly of being alone. Ravyn said she always tried to be a good dog — she showed me that she didn’t bark or make noise because she knew that was “bad”. She did not show me that she had received any physical abuse — but the emotional neglect was huge. Abuse does not have to be physical to leave lasting scars.
I told Ravyn that she was a very, very good dog. The fact that her last people didn’t appreciate what a good dog she is was no fault of hers. I told her that Deborah picked her out and brought her home — to her forever home — because Ravyn was special and Deborah loved her. I could feel Ravyn’s energy relax and felt her make a deep mental sigh of relief.
I explained to Ravyn that now that she lived with Deborah, it was important to try to keep the same wake/sleep cycle as Deborah — awake during the day and sleeping at night. I told her she could nap during the day, but night time was for sleeping and being quiet. She said she understood and would try to do that. Deborah told me later that it took 2-3 months for Ravyn’s day/night cycles to normalize, but they finally did.
It was perfectly understandable, given her previous life experience, for Ravyn to be having difficulty with house training. I explained to her that dogs go potty outside, not inside. I told her we understood that this wasn’t what she did before, but going outside is the best thing for dogs. She said she did try to do that now that she was with Deborah, but sometimes forgot. (Deborah confirmed that Ravyn was getting better about this, but really needed to work on not pottying inside at night.) Ravyn said that she knew she shouldn’t potty in the house at night, but she felt it was wrong to wake up Deborah at night. My feeling was that this also came from her previous experience — that she had been punished for waking her people up if she had to go potty at night. I told Ravyn that Deborah would much prefer that Ravyn wake her up at night to go out, rather than pottying in the house. It took a bit of convincing, but Ravyn finally said she understood and agreed to wake Deborah up if she had to potty during the night.
Deborah told me that one of the things that Ravyn did that bothered her was nipping or “pinching” with her teeth. When I asked Ravyn about this, she showed me that it was a form of play or affection to her — something she would do to another dog that she liked. I explained while the nipping wouldn’t hurt a dog, Deborah’s skin was more fragile and it really hurt when Ravyn nipped her, even though Deborah knew Ravyn didn’t mean to hurt her. I suggested that Ravyn try other ways to initiate play with Deborah — like doing the “play bow” or smiling at her. I also suggested there were polite ways to show Deborah that she wanted attention — coming over to her and touching her gently with her nose, putting her head on or under Deborah’s hand, lying down at Deborah’s feet, following Deborah around (which was OK with Deborah) and just being with Deborah wherever she was. That all made sense to Ravyn and she said she would try doing those things.
A behavior that was baffling to Deborah was that Ravyn would not go through doorways. When I asked Ravyn about this, she showed me scenes from her previous life . . . being dragged back in to her room against her will on the rare occasions when she was let out. She was afraid to enter doorways because she was afraid she would not be allowed out again. After checking with Deborah, I assured Ravyn that now that she was with Deborah, she would never again be locked in a room and would always be allowed to come in and out as she wanted to. Ravyn said that she trusted Deborah — “She loves me and takes good care of me” — so she would try to be brave and go through doors now.
We talked to Ravyn twice during her first month with Deborah. Each time the behavior issues were a little better, but she still needed to have some reinforcement. Deborah was so happy with Ravyn and with Deborah’s love and patience, Ravyn’s confidence and trust were growing day by day.
We talked to Ravyn again about 6 monthes later, in January. There were still a few issues to work on, but as far as Deborah was concerned, Ravyn was doing great and most of the previous issues we’d worked on were resolved.
When I connected to Ravyn, she felt much more confident and independent to me. In fact, she was confident enough to argue with me a bit about one of the issues Deborah wanted to work on — coming to Deborah when called. I was happy that Ravyn had the confidence to say what she thought, rather than just accepting what a human said. I was able to get her to understand that coming when called was a safety issue — that Deborah could see dangers that Ravyn couldn’t see. Ravyn said she was willing to try to come when Deborah called her, even though she didn’t really see why she had to, but she would try because it was important to Deborah. In other words, she would do it to please Deborah — which works just fine!
The other thing that was striking to both Deborah and myself in the January conversation, was the sense of humor that Ravyn showed us during our conversation . . .
Deborah said Ravyn was pottying outside all the time now, but was still occasionally getting her up during the night to go potty outside. This was definitely better than Ravyn pottying inside, but since most of the time Ravyn could “hold it” through the night, Deborah wanted to encourage Ravyn to “hold it” every night if she could. I explained this to Ravyn. After some thought, Ravyn said rather pointedly, “But SHE [Deborah] goes potty at night!” When I told Deborah this, she started laughing — she said she does get up to the bathroom at night! I told Ravyn that while people can go potty at night inside, dogs need to try to potty outside the last time they go out at night and then wait until they go out first thing in the morning to potty again. Ravyn said that a lot of the time she doesn’t have to go potty at night, so she would try to be sure to potty before bed. After checking with Deborah, I told Ravyn that if she absolutely HAD to potty at night, it was still OK to wake Deborah so she could take her out.
Deborah also had a question about Ravyn and bubble wrap. Deborah runs a business from home and packs products for shipping on her dining room table. As a result, bubble wrap is ever present on her table. I asked Ravyn about the bubble wrap — she showed me sitting on a dining room chair and taking sheets of bubble wrap off the table. She showed me chewing the bubble wrap so the bubbles popped in her mouth — but never swallowing it. Ravyn loves the sound/feel of the bubbles popping in her mouth and thinks it’s funny!! She also said that Deborah thought it was funny too, so of course that only encourages Ravyn to do it more! Deborah asked if Ravyn gets up on the dining room table. Ravyn showed me standing on the table and chewing the bubble wrap — but only once. She said she doesn’t get on the table any more because she knows it’s “not OK” — but sitting on the chair is OK, so that’s what she does. Deborah and I were both laughing at this point and had to stop and catch our breath! Deborah said that Ravyn got up on the table once — but has only sat on a chair to get the bubble wrap since then.
I asked Ravyn if she was happy living with Deborah. Ravyn said that she didn’t know that life could be as good as her life is now. She didn’t know that someone could love her as much as Deborah does and she didn’t know she could love someone as much as she loves Deborah. Ravyn loves going out with Deborah and visiting with Deborah’s friends. Deborah said she takes Ravyn everywhere she can. Ravyn said that she feels she is in Deborah’s life to make her happy. The feeling I got from Ravyn is that she feels her relationship with Deborah is like a girl friend/roommate — and that works just fine for Deborah!
” Within a month, with Sky’s help, Ravyn was pottying outside all of the time. Ravyn never went potty in the house again! What’s really interesting and very telling to me, is that so much of Ravyn’s wonderful sense of humor came out in the communication session in January. It shows me how very comfortable Ravyn is here with me now. I think it is beyond wonderful! Ravyn has come a long way since June when she came into my life! Sky helped Ravyn with every issue that has come up. We are still working on a thing or two, but, without Sky, Ravyn would not be making the wonderful headway she is. ” — Deborah B., AZ.