BY SHERRY DAVIS, Contributing columnist
While everyone would like quick and easy solutions to solving their dogs' problems, some take time, patience and persistence to gain even the smallest resolution.
Marygrace wrote me about her 7-year-old ex-racing Greyhound.
Adopted two years ago, Jodie was shy and timid, didn't know how to ride in a car, and wouldn't walk on tile or carpet.
With time and patience she and her husband have succeeded in getting the dog to walk well on the leash, and she has acclimated to her surroundings.
But she will still move away if Marygrace tries to pet her, won't come to her when called and won't eat her food when it is put down until the owners leave.
Marygrace wonders if obedience training for Jodie will help because after two years of kind and loving care, she now feels that the dog is more manipulative and stubborn than she is shy.
There can be no doubt that Jodie was deprived of proper socialization as a youngster, and it is likely that she spent most of her life in a run with other dogs, or crated.
For five years, when food was put in her kennel, the caregiver would walk away, so the dog associates that as the cue to eat.
While it is normal to want to compensate for what a dog has gone through, and have feelings of sorrow for its previous situation or abuse, owners often make the mistake of failing to establish rules and boundaries for the dog's behavior from the day it comes into its new home.
Jodie had no capacity to understand that initially, exceptions were made for her behavior based on her previous life, and that when a suitable "recovery" period passed with the kind and patient people who adopted her, she would be expected to become a loving and obedient pet.
Instead, once Jodie became comfortable in her surroundings, she simply behaved like any dog who does not see its owner as an effective leader.
Making allowances for a dog's poor behavior because of compassion for what it used to be, instead of establishing boundaries for what you expect it to be, Indicates to the dog acceptance of its behavior.
I suggested that Marygrace leash Jodie in the house to instantly turn herself into a leader, and Jodie into a follower.
I also told her to attach a long line onto her when in the yard and call, treat and release her so she would view checking in with the owner as a positive experience and not the end of her freedom.
Marygrace replied that Jodie was not much of a treat-eater, and had that issue about eating when someone was around.
I told her she would have to go to a high-value reward such as chicken, and with a dog like this I might also go from feeding scheduled meals to small amounts fed by hand, or tossed to her, throughout the day.
The dog must see the owner as the provider of all resources, in return for acceptable behavior.
Because of the dog's aloof personality and aversion to petting I would leash her and use a soft cloth or hound glove to groom her or engage in massage techniques accompanied by high-value food rewards.
I would not reach for or pet her head until she saw the hand coming toward her as a source of good things.
I would teach her to down and stay in place (greyhounds do not like to sit), and when people came over she would be required to do so rather than be allowed to run away.
Visitors should be told to ignore her.
No petting, no talking to her, and specifically, no eye contact.
Rehabilitating rescues can be hard and sometimes frustrating work, but for the people who accept the challenge, the rewards are worth it.
Also, mark these dates on your calender:
* Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 4 to 9 p.m., Friends of Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation, at Red Brick Pizza, 9500 Brimhall Road.
There will be a fundraiser with a portion of proceeds to assist with low-cost spay/neuter, with prizes and items available for sale. Call 829-1010.
* Saturday, Oct. 9, "Paws and Claws" food drive and fundraiser motorcycle run at Bakersfield Leather and Accessories, 2622 Fairhaven Drive, to benefit stray, abandoned and unwanted animals in Bakersfield and surrounding areas. Donations needed include money, dry dog food and cat food. Proceeds to go to Alpha Canine, Cat People and other animal organizations. For details contact Jim Wiggins at 321-9882.
-- Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/owner of CSI 4 K9s. E-mail her at doglady@ bakersfield.com. These are her opinions and not necessarily those of The Californian.