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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-10-2010, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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Mentors, please?

Okay, here goes our story. I have not had a dog in many years, but my last was a rescued tree-climbing, lovable pit bull that our family can’t imagine life without, even my (then small) kids.

After much soul searching, I decided a Havanese was my next dog, no question, and met with some breeders, but decided to wait it out and rescue a dog instead. Some years later, I have found my girl.

Lita was found on the streets of New York City, filthy, starving, and virtually unable to walk. She was taken to the city pound and scheduled for euthanasia. A rescue group scooped her up. She was spayed, micro-chipped (in the wrong place), vaccinated, and turned over, all in about a day. Her foster mom gave her a haircut and cleaned her club-like feet of gravel, taking her from 11.5 lbs to 7, just removing the filth. I got her a week later.

I knew she had “issues” but I also had rose-colored glasses! My vet was stunned that she had been offered for adoption, she was in such poor condition. She could barely walk. Her vision is not good. She had gross neurological problems, her spine was not right, her tail didn’t move. She had a massive ear infection and ruptured ear drum. She developed vestibular disorder within a day of the vet visit, causing her to fall to one side in complete dizziness, eyes rolling, flipping around like a fish out of water. The vet did much lab work and put her on antibiotics. The next day he phoned and said he didn’t understand why she was even alive. She was in liver failure, kidney failure, massive infection of unknown origin… it goes on. I decided to stick by her. She was the most amazing little package I have ever met! I wish you could all meet her. She smiles a lot.

Now we are almost at the two month mark. The vet is blown away. The dizziness resolved, though I have to be really careful to keep her ears dry. She has gained 2.5 lbs and is so much stronger I can’t begin to tell. She will scramble up a flight of carpeted stairs, nearly falling, but determined to do it. Going down is not really an option as her rear legs don’t work right, but she is improving. First question is about when to challenge her and when to accept her (undefined) limitation(s). She has learned the words wait, bed, leave it, and sit (in an awkward fashion). And maybe "Mr. Squeeky".

The vet thinks she is a 3 year old Havanese, and likely was in some kind of home puppy mill situation because of her remarkable vibe. As she gained strength, she walks to my heel, no training. She is afraid of most people, animals, appliances, but can snuggle up to a young child like a second skin. The shaking is gradually subsiding. She eats well, but I can’t figure out any kind of treat she likes, and she is hesitant to take any offering, yet she has trouble seeing it if you put it on the floor. She had no idea about toys, but in spite of her poor vision she is learning about squeaky toys and a ball even though she can’t seem to track it well.

She is velcroed to me at this point, as I work from home and am around all the time. She loves rides in the car, even 4 hr. trips (almost have to pry her out). The attached photo is her sleeping in the car. She has constant anxiety accidents, even if she just peed outside. I have her in an expen most of the time in my kitchen where I am in and out a lot, and she uses "wee wee pads". She has just started jumping up on me (this non-walking dog!) to beg to be picked up and held. Previously she would not sit with me, but curl up nearby. She is starting to bark, seemingly from fear. If someone comes to the door she hides in her expen and barks. I have made some progress with this with my “calm assertive” approach, but wish I could communicate with some folks that know this breed and also the ins and outs of rescues.

I am very committed to this little girl, but don’t know what to do next! Realistically, I have spent so much money on her medical care that hiring a trainer would be a real stretch. Every one that I interview has a different approach, and I don’t know what would be best. I am almost leaning toward blowing my funds on more medical care/investigations, like maybe acupuncture for her spinal issues, or a CAT scan…

Anyone that can offer some suggestions, and maybe even let me bounce some of my millions of questions off them, is welcome to reply. Sometimes I feel at such a loss, like I am not doing the right thing for her, but I keep believing it has to be better than what she had, or what she was heading for.

Thanks for letting me vent!
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-10-2010, 11:13 PM
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Wow, what a story. I'm going to remind myself of you and Lita when I'm feeling overwhelmed - my Tess' allergies and puppy mill issues are nothing in comparison. You're an angel for sticking with Lita and she sounds like quite a spunky little girl.

Others may have different suggestions but, if it was me, I'd let Lita determine what she's capable of and what she can't handle. You sound like you're doing a great job with her already. I completely understand not being able to afford a trainer so don't double guess yourself. You've got enough going on with her health issues. You clearly already love her for who she is right now so any improvements will just be a bonus.

Ask any questions you have, there's a massive source of great information here but always keep in mind, you know Lita best, if something doesn't sound like it will work for you and Lita, don't use it.

Just keep doing what you're doing!

BTW, I love the picture of Lita. She looks like one happy pup!

Jill - Tess & Cody's mom
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-10-2010, 11:20 PM
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I feel as if I'm in the presence of an angel, truly. The loving care you have given this poor girl who had so little chance at a life is remarkable and heartwarming. You have done so much for her and clearly she's made incredible progress in the time that you have her. I'm going to have to leave the advice to those who have rescues but I just had to welcome you and tell you how touching her/your story is.

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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 05:42 AM
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I think you are an angel and have done an outstanding job with your new baby. She's a very lucky girl to have you and I see she adores you also. You may want to go to Havanese Rescue's website for answers to your questions. Havanese Rescue, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping and protecting Havanese. We have some excellent educational articles which I know will be of help.
There are also volunteers available to talk to when you feel the need. Good luck, Paula


With love from Coral Gables, FL
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 06:36 AM
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It sounds as if you are a natural. All that improvement just in only 2 months! wow! I would definately contact the HRI and get their advice.

Good luck and keep us updated on her successes.


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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 06:53 AM
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Great advise from everyone. I just love that picture - she is just smiling away knowing that she is loved and cherished!! You are an angel and it sounds like you guys were meant to be together.
Havanese Rescue does have lots of information for you - please use it! I have had a mill dog myself and some of the behaviors are similar to my Madeline's
Jill is right in my opinion. She will lead you and go at her own pace. When she is ready to tackle the stairs - she will do it. I found that it took weeks -for Madeline to make just a little progress. She has been in her forever home for 1 1/2 years and I just heard last week that she is finally acting like a normal dog! It takes time, but she sounds like she is ready, willing, and able to take this journey with you!!! Keep up the good work!

Lily, Lexi ,Logan, Laila & Lizzie's Mom
(Gigi, Lucas, Dugan, Madeline,Reo,Alvin, Lucky, Lukey, Punch, Colby & Ben-(we will always Love you!!)
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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 06:53 AM
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What a great story. You are an amazing person to do what you're doing for Lita. I think she will get better day by day. Please don't give up on her. I'm sure she appreciates a warm home, full belly, love, and all that you do for her. I'd love to see more pictures and hear about her progress. Keep us posted please!

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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 08:13 AM
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I can't imagine that you need to do anything any better than you are already doing!
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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 08:32 AM
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Sounds like to me that you are doing all the right things. Why do you need a trainer? It seems she is under control. She is one lucky dog for sure and it seems you are lucky also to have found her. You obviously needed a special case or you two would not have found each other. I envy folks who have the nerve to rescue. I hope someday I too can step up to the plate and give something to a dog in need.
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 08:46 AM
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This story is so touching and amazing that it made me tear up and cry reading it, the power of love is an amazing thing.

I will echo the words of others that you are doing everything right, as she will have lived her life knowing what it feels like to be loved. That in itself justifies every penny you've spent and every trip to the vet that you've questioned..but I do know money doesn't grow on trees..but it sounds like she has improved tremendously in 2 months in your care.

You have come to the right place, we do have several members here who are involved in Havanese rescue, or have rescued and fostered and are familiar with behaviors such as fear and anxiety, I know they'll be happy to help and your pM box will be filling up soon

My girl loves car rides , should see her at the mention of it, it is probably her favorite thing in the whole world.

to the forum and a big hug to you for being such a remarkable, kind and giving person.

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