It’s been over a week since we brought Akima home; time flies when you are completely overwhelmed. The week hasn’t been easy because there are facets of this dog that completely baffle me.
Akima is an unresponsive dog; I don’t mean unresponsive in the sense that she doesn’t like treats, love and attention — she completely responds to all of those things. I mean unresponsive in the sense that she ignores us when talk to her, give her a command or make noise; and, she spends a lot of her time chasing shadows around the house. The shadow thing alone drives dP and I mad because when she is shadow chasing Akima doesn’t know anything else in the world exists.
After a few days of watching our doggie not respond to us and other odd non-dog behaviours I made an appointment with the vet because I thought she was deaf.
The prognosis: not deaf. The vet could find only a healthy dog with clean healthy ears though she was also baffled by Kima’s lack of response to noise. Our next step was to delve into the realm of dog psychology to try and figure out what is going on.
Akima’s not a dog that ran wild. She knows house rules, she’s exceptionally good with toddlers, and she’s incredibly tolerant when it comes to grooming and handling. She’s also been socialized with people and other dogs. This could also be a testament to her intelligence and fostering.
One thing that we did find really interesting is Akima doesn’t know what toys are for; she instantly knew what belonged to the baby and what belonged to the dogs, but she didn’t know what to do with the dog toys. All she was interested in was shadows and playing with Stryder.
After looking at this and lots of over little things that have happened over the past week, the conclusion we came to is: Akima wasn’t an abused dog, she was an ignored dog. She never learned how to be with people and more importantly she never learned how to play with people. It was like someone trained Akima to be a cat and her way of entertaining herself was to chase shadows.
Once we figured this out we came up with a plan of action. The first thing we did was take away Kima’s food and start hand feeding her kibble. It took her about five hours to figure out where her food was coming from, but when it happened something else amazing happened: Kima looked up from the shadows on the floor and realized that there were people in the room.
A small step but an important one.
Next we split the two dogs up in the evening for an hour of play time; one dog upstairs and one dog downstairs – each with either dP or myself. This playtime serves two purposes: it gives Stryder a chance to play one-on-one with one of us and also gives Kima the chance to learn how to play with humans.
It didn’t take her long to figure out how to play and when it happened the transformation in her personality was incredible. It was like we ripped her open and pulled out a puppy. She was attentive, bouncy, her tail was moving at hyper speed, I could see her confidence building and the best part was she started coming to us for more play. She was also more willing to participate in training sessions because it was fun (before she just walked away from training when she felt like it and would ignore us).
The last thing we did was move her crate to the bedroom and banned both Stryder and La Niña from it. We want Kima to have a place that is completely hers so she feels like she belongs. We also want her to have a place to escape to when she is feeling overwhelmed.
There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done but we are making progress and progress is a good thing.