The next day we travelled the 90 minute drive to the breeders, but this time to pick up Matinee, the blue-merle rough collie adult. Mark was so excited and beaming ear to ear when we put her in my car. The drive back home was quiet as it seemed once Matinee (or Mattie as the breeder called her) settled, she didn’t move an inch, nor did she sleep. Okay, I thought, this is not so bad.
We arrived home and attached the leash to take her out in the yard in order to familiarize her with our property line. We stopped to chat to our neighbour who owned a yellow lab the same age as Mattie. Since she was a stay at home Mom she mentioned that she took neighbourhood dogs out when owners were not home, could we use her services? Hell yeah, that was one thing off my mind.
‘You’re hired’, we said.
At this point, I noticed that Mattie was very timid, definitely not the same dog we saw at the breeders, but she seemed to bond quickly with Daisy, our neighbours lab.
After a long chat we decided to take her into the house where we had her crate set up in the living room. I thought to myself, she doesn’t seem so bad; she’s great on a leash, why would we need obedience classes? Ah well, the weeks ahead would prove very differently.
Our cats Sigfried and Roy were waiting at the door when we approached. Okay, I thought, here was the test. We pulled Mattie into the house as she seemed very anxious, but followed us anyway. She smelled Roy and he seemed to fall in love with her. Sigfried was another story. As we yanked on her leash to take her into the living room, Sigfried walked up to her, hissed and whacked her on the nose. Okay so these two would not be friends, but the ‘whack’ did not seem to faze her as we approached her crate. In the meantime I turned on the TV, which was on the way to the crate. Mattie jumped, looked at us with fear in her eyes, paced, saw the crate and ran into it. She then began to turn a few times, dug at the dog bed, and finally settled. At that moment I knew that I was right on all my concerns. This dog was used to living outdoors with all her playmates. The sound from the TV and certain noises were foreign to her, therefore, she would become fearful of day-to-day unfamiliar clamor.
I guess I should have realized that it was very similar to Mom entering the long-term care facility with Alzheimer’s disease.
#1. Mom was fearful, as everyone was a stranger. #2. Mom’s surroundings had changed and were foreign to her. #3. Mom declined food for an extended amount of time. This would also occur with Mattie. She refused to eat. She refused to exit her crate. I had to crouch down, slowly enter the crate, and put the leash on in order to feed or take her outdoors. At this point, I had no idea how long this process would take and wasn’t sure I would have the patience or fortitude to see it through.