Smith - Millie - Albequerque, NM

(Berner-Garde #7045)

Millie came to live us in early January 2010 from a home which kept her in the back yard and provided little more than food and basic veterinary care. Her arthritic hips and knees made walking very difficult and, in spite of a veterinary cleaning (including a couple of extractions), her teeth were the worst I’d ever seen. The vet also removed a “lump” an inch or so between her nose and stop, but never did a biopsy on the tissue. She was eight years three months old when we adopted her, yet she didn’t know how to play, was unsure about what to do with a bone and very ill at ease in the house. While she was basically a very sweet dog, she came with any number of really bad habits. Her response to even a minimal correction was to go and hide under the dining room table. My vet’s evaluation was that she was in fairly good shape for an eight year old dog, but emotionally stunted due to being ignored all her life.

Where does one start? First of all, we got her on a combination of Dasaquin w/MSM and Ester-C. Within three or four months she was running with our other two and able to jump on the bed. Obviously, the supplements were working wonders.

She craved human contact, but asked for it in inappropriate ways. Corrected, she headed for the safety of the dining room table. After a couple of times, I realized that no learning was taking place, so I called her back, put her head on my knee, petted her and told her what a good girl she was. The very next time she wanted attention, she came over, put her head on my knee and looked up at me. I reached over, petted her and told her what a good girl she was. This was an epiphany for her. No longer was the dining room table her sanctuary. I’d correct her and she’d wait for me to show her what I wanted from her.

Her foster family told me that she would walk on a leash, but tended to pull a bit. Well, this was the quintessential understatement. The second time we went for a walk, I put a training collar on her. She pulled and I gave a “pop”, told her “by me” and praised her for standing beside me. She pulled a second time and I repeated the correction and praised her. That’s all it took. She never pulled again and now walks like a dream using a flat collar. This is one smart dog.

It took about five or six months for her to learn how play and a couple of really meaty bones from the local butcher introduced her to the joy of chewing on a bone. This has helped improve her remaining teeth and breath. She is comfortable in the house and is now trying to convince me that the dog’s place is on the bed and the owner’s place is on the floor. This effort has been unsuccessful, however, she is the best “snuggler” we’ve ever had. As she has become more secure, she’ll snuggle a while and then find a place to curl up beside the bed.

Millie is the first rescue dog we’ve ever had. And, while she initially took a lot of work, she has become a beloved companion and behavior wise, virtually indistinguishable from those we’ve raised from puppies. It is sad that her first family had not “clue one” as to the wonderful dog they had. She now has a “forever home” with Walt and Libby Smith in Albuquerque, NM.

Oh, by the way, the “lump” on her nose never came back and no others have appeared.

Libby & Walt Smith
Albequerque, NM