Jenga: Week 3.

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The longer Jenga is here, the less I like to think about her leaving. Jenga has stolen my heart (and Paul’s, though, he doesn’t want to admit it) completely. She is such a good dog and so entertaining, that just the thought of her not being here is painful. While I felt the same way about Angie, I knew that there was no way we could make it work long term. With Jenga, it’s different. She has a more easy-going personality and has far less separation anxiety. I felt that Angie’s separation anxiety would abate in a home where she had more freedom and less competition, since we maintained two dog “camps” while she was here, and that seems to be the case in her adoptive home. In Jenga’s case, she is not at all bothered by the competition, has little anxiety when we are not around and takes pretty much everything in stride. Add to that, the fact that she is a complete goof and you have the makings of what could be pretty close to a perfect dog. Perfect for us, anyway….But, as always, I have to remind myself that we have a job to do with her and a goal to achieve: get her adopted into the best possible home. The problem is, I can’t seem to convince myself that ours isn’t it 😉 She is pretty much living the good life here in New Hope, Pa.
We have been working hard on a lot of different things with Jenga and she has made tremendous progress. Today she gets a bath and I am hoping that she cooperates as well as she has before. Since she is so treat- motivated, I am fairly confident she will. Training is going well, but, unlike Angie, whose brain you could almost see clicking away, Jenga needs more prompts and cues and repetitions. Angie was a quick study in pretty much everything, Jenga struggles with the tougher stuff. Like, how to get back up on the seat in the car when she has climbed down into the passenger seat well. Like jumping….and, the jumping is a big one. Part of the problem is that for a long time, while in the shelter, she was allowed to jump. I think it’s because her jumping is more to hug than to get in your face in that obnoxious way some dogs can do. However, she is a fairly large dog, so it’s a problem. She has not completely stopped with Paul and I, but, it has decreased. She gets no attention from us until all four feet are on the ground, and her impulse control has gotten a bit better. She is not 100% reliable, but, she is close, sitting for food and to have her leash put on. This stuff actually has us thinking that she is younger than we thought, maybe more like a year old, instead of 2 or 3 and had zero dog training.
It’s also clear that Jenga had some not-so-great experiences in her life. She is very afraid of the broom and kind of slinks away and goes to lay down when she sees it. This makes me very sad. But, it is the only thing she has shown fear of and I guess it could be worse. I just can’t bear the thought of someone threatening her or hitting her with it. She doesn’t seem to have any other fears and her personality is such that I really can’t imagine what she could have done to warrant that treatment. But, I guess, I will never know and lots of people do that and worse to their dogs.
So, why do I want to keep Jenga so much? I think it’s because she is just so nice. I think it’s because as my co-Pen Pal, Nora said, Jenga chose me. I do believe that dogs choose people to be their humans as much as we choose them. I was drawn to Jenga the moment I met her, and that just isn’t always the case. Even before she became my Pen Pal, there was not a time that I was at the shelter that I didn’t take Jenga out. I have always enjoyed her company…the way that she looks to me for reassurance and comfort. I enjoy watching her cuddle with Paul and seeing her wag her entire body with excitement. I love that she is big and goofy and that her paws look like they belong on a much bigger dog (even though she is pretty darn big). I love the way she slinks low to the ground when she is uncertain and perks up when she realizes there is nothing to worry about. I love the way she and our cat Trixie sniff and roll and feel safe near each other. Most of all, I love that she loves us and likes living with us. If I can find a home for her where she can continue to blossom and gain confidence, I will gladly hand her leash to that person. But, the choice will be Jenga’s. She will have to choose her forever person, just like she chose me to bring her this far. Until then, she will stay here, safe and loved. 🙂
Here she is down in the passenger seat well, with zero clue how to get back on the seat. I prompted her numerous times, but, she would only follow my hand with her upper body. Eventually, I gave her a little boost on her butt. She showed her appreciation by giving me kisses once she was on the seat and comfy again 🙂

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