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Kelso came to Arizona with 21 other dogs evacuated from the puppy mill in east Texas on April 15, and came to my house that night. I thought I would like to write about his progress here, as he and I work together. I am accustomed to taking in shy foster dogs and working with them. This guy is 'way beyond shy. Just looking at him would break my heart if I did not firmly believe that with enough time and patience he will come into a joyful dog life. I use a clicker and exclusively positive reinforcement. This one will be quite the project, but I bet he will surprise us all with how fast he comes along. At least I hope so! Any comments or suggestions are welcome, as this dog needs all the help he can get. (good mojo sent his way wouldn't hurt, either)

For the first 24 hours all he would do is lie in one place not moving and not looking at anything. If I moved him he made a perfectly still statue wherever I put him. Today is his second full day at my house. Mostly he does a "stuffed dog" routine; his default mode seems to be "If I do not move and make no noise maybe no one will hurt me". He has small scars on his face, but otherwise seems to be in fairly good shape physically, although he is overweight and undermuscled. Once I can get him to move, we will be starting on an exercise program!

Emotionally, he's clearly quite a mess, poor thing. He is taking from me small pieces of roast chicken, but the largest response I have gotten from him so far is reaching his nose out just slightly to reach for them. I have to bring the water dish to him; he won't get up to go to it. If I need him to be outside to potty I have to carry him out there; he won't go anywhere on his own, doesn't respond to coaxing, and goes "starfish" if I put a leash on him. He growls in his sleep. He won't make eye contact with me although there have been fleeting glances at my eyes. He doesn't respond at all to petting, but doesn't shy away from it either.

He is not eating except for the pieces of chicken and a few kibbles here and there but since he is overweight I am not too worried about that. The biggest progress so far is that he will lift his head up off the floor occasionally, so he may be starting to take a little interest in what is going on around him. When the other dogs get rowdy near where he is, he growls but otherwise ignores them.

I think it's possible that he lived in a cage a lot because his toes are a bit splayed out and I have heard that if they are in a wire cage with no proper floor their feet will splay out like that. It also seems that he is more comfortable in the dark, because when I took him out after dark last night he actually started to explore the backyard a bit, whereas in the daytime he just stands absolutely still in one place looking at the ground.

He is so beautiful, with gorgeous fur and lovely markings. He has a very cute face that I know would have a sweet expression on it if only he had known any sweetness in his life. His eyes are so dark they are almost black, and very large and round. I want so much to see joy in those eyes.

D'Elle

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Sending Kelso lots of good mojo....may he learn the being a dog can be something better than what he's always known.

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I'm sending good mojo for Kelso. He sounds like he needs exactly what you are giving him - patience, understanding and love.

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Shoshone was that way when she was taken from The Awful Place. She was on dirt covered with waste, so no splayed feet, but the terror, the shut down, was the same.

She'd been at a foster home for a year or so when we got her. She'd had plenty of food, good shelter and some vetting, but the foster home was a bit over whelmed, and she got very little 1-2-1 attention from the foster lady. You'll be providing him with plenty of that as he's ready for it.

You're absolutely spot on about Kelso coming around with consistency, good treatment, and a little room to figure some things out for himself. After we'd had Shonie for a few months, we were at the park for our daily outing. Shonie came over to me to get a drink of water and then wagged her tail, for the first time. There was a wave of 'oooh, Shonie just wagged her tail!' that went around our little group. It still makes me smile.

You're doing a wonderful thing for Kelso. Thanks for sharing his journey.

Ruth

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Sending Kelso good mojo too. I really admire what your commitment to help him learn what being a normal dog is about. I'm looking forward to hearing about how you approach this, what works and what doesn't. I may have missed this earlier, but do you know how old he is?

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I am so glad to hear that he is with you, and will be looking forward to updates and *progress* which I know you both will experience and enjoy!

Very best wishes!

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Bless his sweet, troubled heart and bless you for giving him a second chance. It simply enrages me that anyone could keep dogs in a situation that created something as heartbreaking as this. Do keep us updated on his progress. It will be a long journey, but I sense that you're just the one to give him all the time and love he needs. One day he will smile and be happy - thanks to you.

~ Gloria

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In answer to Jan, I am told that he is between 1 and 2 years old, and would have guessed the same myself.

Tonight he walked a little bit in the backyard. He walks like a 15 year old dog with arthritis. I do not think he is crippled, I think it's fear and disorientation. He stops a lot and stands very still. He's still lying in a corner all the rest of the time. Doesn't react even a smidgen when the other dogs jump up all excited to go out for a play session or a walk. But he actually walked back into the house on his own tonight after I had carried him out to pee. That's our progress for the day.
Thank you for being interested enough to read this and for your support. Much appreciated.
D'Elle :)

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Please have faith in Kelso! My Mickey was just like that when he came here. He has been with an older couple and they had to find homes for all their dogs as I believe they were breeders. When that wonderful Richard brought us Mickey, he got out of the car and started looking for a corner to hide in. It took us a while to catch him and his legs were like rubber from lack of exercise. He was pretty shut down and stayed to himself. I have a huge yard and kept him on a leash for a long time to keep him close to me. We had to take his food to him and let him know it was okay to eat and to drink. He was terrified of the dogs and any sudden moves or noises. No eye contact, no play, no moving unless he had too. We have had him for many months now and you can now see the joy in his old eyes. Mickey is 12 and has fading eyesight and hearing but is now so happy. When we are outside he will come running and bark his gravelly little bark and actually chase the other dogs. He has just started picking up toys to play! His feet are splayed, he has his aches and pains but the joy in his eyes has made it all worth it. He still shys from loud noise or sudden movements, but to see where he is today is a miracle. Keep going, it is worth the effort with the love they are finally able to show you!

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[quote name='D'Elle' timestamp='1303093684' post='386890']
... But he actually walked back into the house on his own tonight after I had carried him out to pee. That's our progress for the day.
[/quote]
A small step, but in the right direction. I have no idea what these poor dogs have gone through, but time is a good healer and with a little encouragement, he'll come out of his shell. His walking like a 15 year old may partly be due to his constant immobility.

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Thanks, Julie.......yes, it is my hope that my writing about Kelso here may possibly encourage others in the future who can help another dog who has been in a similar situation. And thanks, bpierce, for the encouragement and for Mikey's story. I appreciate very much hearing about Mikey, as that joy in the eyes is what I am hoping some day to see in Kelso. John, yes, probably the lack of agility on his feet is due at least in part to his long immobility.

I am worried about him (well, obviously). I think about him most of the time and worry about whether or not I am doing enough. But do not know what else to do besides what I am doing.

This morning he went down the steps to go outside by himself, but of course first I had to get him up and moving which requires picking him up, putting him on his feet, and then walking him along with my hands on him keeping him from collapsing again. And before that I had to bring him the water and gently push his nose right into it to get him to drink.

I always speak to him in a calm, quiet, matter-of-fact and cheerful voice.

I worry that there's something else wrong with him that needs vet attention, perhaps. But he looks good, his fur is beautiful, and he was thoroughly vetted, dipped, bathed, and examined before he left Texas. He's had shots, tested heartworm neg. and doesn't look sick.

He will, fleetingly, occasionally, look in my eyes.

He has occasionally snarled hugely at one of the other dogs. I have been trying to see a pattern in it so that I can manage it appropriately. Sometimes the other dogs can practically climb over him and he has no reaction. Other times one of the other dogs simply walks by him and he snarls. If I am giving him chicken and another dog comes up he snarls -- that is completely understandable. But the other snarls do not seem to follow a pattern I can discern yet. The other dogs just ignore it, fortunately. The one time he almost got to his feet snarling at one of the other dogs who walked past him without even looking at him, I got up and went over and snarled like a dog at Kelso. He was quite taken aback, but it seemed to me he got the message. He has not since then behaved any differently toward me, so I do not think I frightened him, of which I am glad. I don't want to let the snarling get out of hand before I let him know it is inappropriate, but the last thing I want to do is anything that will make him fearful of me when I am trying to create trust.
D'Elle

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It's just so sad that someone would have treated and/or neglected him to this point.

[quote name='D'Elle' timestamp='1303137808' post='386926']
He will, fleetingly, occasionally, look in my eyes.[/quote]

I do hope those moments bring him delicious chicken and become longer and more frequent. Best wishes.

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We have started an exercise program.
Here's what it looks like: I carry Kelso to the back end of my back yard (maybe 50 ft. from the house) and set him down. Because he would rather be next to, or in, the house, he walks back to the house. I praise him, pet him and give him chicken. Then we repeat the process. All he can manage is three repetitions of this.

And this is a [i]border collie[/i].
The man who did this to him and almost 200 other border collies will probably get off with nothing more than a hand slap.
D'Elle

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Kelso wagged his tail this morning! And he actually did a little sniffing in the yard while we were doing our exercise.
:-)

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[quote name='D'Elle' timestamp='1303225217' post='387032']
Kelso wagged his tail this morning! And he actually did a little sniffing in the yard while we were doing our exercise.
[/quote]
He's learning that the world isn't as scary as he thought it was. Keep up the good work.

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You go, Kelso!!! You're safe now. :)

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Go, Kelso...wag that tail :) ...D'Elle, keep up the great work. It sounds like he's come a long way already!

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More progress to report. The tail wagging wasn't a fluke, as I had feared, because he greeted me with it again tonight when I got home. And he did 5 trips back to the house from the end of the yard tonight. (right about then I was getting tired of carrying him!)

He still will not eat unless I feed him by hand, but at least he is eating more than he did the first couple of days.

AND he has started coming out, all on his own, from the laundry room, where he has been hanging out, and into the kitchen. This is great, because he is no longer totally isolating himself all the time. It seems to me that he has turned the first corner -- he has started having some interest in being alive, and is participating in the process instead of just being dead weight. This is a very big step and I find it encouraging. :-)

Keep sending your good thoughts his way, if you would.....every little bit surely cannot hurt.
D'Elle

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Great news, D'Elle! I'm so glad to see such progress so soon. Who knows where he'll be in a year's time! :) Beaming more good thoughts to dear little Kelso, from the pack here in Nevada.

~ Gloria

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