When Philo first came home with me in October 2009, he was just beginning to learn about the other lighter side of the world - fun, kindness, security, safety. He didn’t know how to play with other dogs and didn’t know how to play with toys much either. (The photo above shows a bit of his white scar tissue and how thin he was at this time.)
About 3 months in to his rehab, he experienced what I can only describe as a second puppyhood. When he slept, he needed to be touching me - piled on like puppies do. When he gnawed on toys, he’d put them in my lap or press them against my legs while he chewed them because he needed to be touching me.
When he was re-socializing, many of the dogs he played with were under a year old, and he even began to play like a puppy. Lowering himself down to the ground so he was always nibbling under the other dog’s neck or at his paws.
Slowly, he began exploring the apartment without me. Playing with his toys in the middle of the room or running around with them, but always coming back to push them into my legs and then fall asleep. He was 2 1/2 then.
I’m not sure if anyone else has experienced this kind of phase with a dog who didn’t really have a chance to be a puppy, but it was fascinating for me to see him learning and genuinely wanting to learn after being so shut down - learning how to play and how to regulate himself with other dogs, how to share and how to feel secure without being tense and overstimulated.
I truly believe he needed to experience the progression of infantile behaviors to socialize properly. It just started 2 1/2 years later than normal ;)
During this time, Philo also had very intense dreams. He would whimper, cry, howl, thrash around and growl in his sleep. He’d wake up panicked and then go tuck himself as far back in his crate as he could until he had another dream and would search for another “safe” place to fall back asleep. I distinctly remember one night turning on the light because he was barking so loudly that I thought perhaps he’d gotten stuck. He woke up and for the first time I saw him relax instead of panic when he realized where he was and that I was there. Over time, his dreams have seemed to become less intense and more happy. He runs and yips in his sleep usually now.
- fearthebeards said: Beautifully-written post! Joules came to us scared & nervous, though not as severely as Philo. We think she was kept as a breeder dog in a home, and when visitors came around it was to take her babies, not to play or interact with her. She had her second puppyhood when we…
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