we went out last night for about an hour and took oscar for the truck ride. first: when we go near the truck, or in it, he gets a look on his face that i've seen on animals when they know they're being rehomed. it's such an awful look to see! i'm sure some of you know what look i'm talking about. it wasn't an anxious or unsure/curious look, it was a sad acceptance look. we take him with us whenever we can, he needs the repetition to realize we're not giving him away just because he goes in the truck with us. by the time we got home, he was far more relaxed and lying on my lap.
we went to petsmart and bought a kong for him (and formula for the pup) to settle him when we have to go out and can't take him (oh, the barking!). we brought him in with us, and he smelled every inch of the store lol it was adorable. he got better practice saying hi to strange people without always barking (he loves dogs but is leery of people he doesnt know, children excluded). we went up to the doggy daycare windows so he could see lots of different dogs. he said hi to a few dogs in the store with their owners shopping. people that wanted to say hi to him, he's give one single bark, no hackles up, tail up and ok (he wasn't concerned with people not paying attention to him). i'd kneel down to him and say quiet and put my hand near the strange person. then he'd follow my hand and sniff the person. then he would still act "unsure" of them, but no more barks and would move on. the people found him sweet, especially as we explained it was good socializing for him and that he was new to our family, and we explained his history of rehoming. no one took issue to his "hey, you're a stranger" bark.
then we went to the dollar store and i sat in the truck with him while my husband went in to get a jar of peanut butter for the kong (cheap/easy, i'm only allergic to eating it), and another dog dish so that oscar could have his own water bowl and didn't have to jump the puppy pen to drink (i'd set it up so he could still go in to say hi, which he loves to do). i think oscar honestly thought steph (my husband) wasn't coming back. no barking, just endless whining...endless! poor guy, the other family didn't get him out much, that's clear! didn't bark at strange people he saw, was solely fixated on if steph was coming back, never took his eyes off the door to the store, unless to pace and stare out my passenger window. when steph came back it seemed like the greatest day of oscar's life, he was so happy, more so than when steph comes home from work.
then we went to food basics because we needed a few things ourselves. oscar was beginning to relax and lie on my lap. when we arrived, again i stayed in the truck with oscar while steph went into the store. same result, endless whining, wouldn't take his eyes off the entrance. however, he realized i existed this time, and i was able to have him lie on my lap and try to relax, and it worked. he even stayed laid down as steph got in the truck. another happiest day of oscar's life. then we went home and oscar stayed lying on my lap the whole way. when we got home he was as excited as when steph would get back into the truck. somehow i don't think he went on car rides unless he was being rehomed or taken to the vet, he's really unfamiliar with it as leisure. when we got inside, we gave him a treat and tons of praise, then he ate his dinner in one sitting (another project, was used to the bowl always on the floor) and slept like a rock! as we ate our dinner he was awake and tried to beg and creep closer (previous home shared their food with him), we gave him one "no, lie down" and BAM he stayed lying at our feet, with his back to us, for our whole meal! after we were done eating, another treat and tons of praise, then he was back to sleeping like a rock. we can tell he isn't "scared" but he is anxious and unsure, always. moments of bringing him to go out for errands (this wasn't the first, but the most interesting) are great practice for him to relax, socialize, sniff everything, and realize he's coming back home with us.
"If you can't change your fate, change your attitude." - Amy Tan