Mario's Therapy Dog - Havanese Forum : Havanese Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
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Mario's Therapy Dog

Today, I was watching Mario and Nino play (we are finally at that point), and I couldn't help but think of the impact Nino's happiness and fearlessness have had on Mario's life.
Mario has been a plain old nervous pooch since an unfortunate incident with a Shih Tzu at age 3. Before that, he had no issues with other dogs, no problems with loud noises, and no fear of the vet or groomer. That incident meant we couldn't take him to our usual dog friendly hangouts. It just wasn't fun for him.
There was a bit of guilt in bringing Nino home. Mario does NOT like other dogs. The first few months were touch and go with lots of tears, us not trusting the boys together because we were afraid it would end up with Mario injuring Nino or Nino pestering him to the point of him shutting down emotionally.
The 4th of July was our turning point, though. Nino was unphased by the fireworks, and upon seeing how shaken Mario was, he went and stood next to him. No touching, no pestering, nothing. Just protection and the comfort of having a calm dog in the area. Since then, we have had issues with a touchy smoke detector, storms galore, and more fireworks. With Nino setting an example, Mario is no longer shaking and panting during these situations, but going about his life as normal. He can go to the pet store and the vet without nerves, all as long as his "therapy dog" is alongside him.
The owner of the more timid dog in our class told us her dog's older brother would always greet other dogs before she would to show her that they are safe. It's amazing how emotionally in tune these animals are.
We thought fear and reactivity were Mario's new normal, and for 6 years, they were. Nino still elicits grumbles and growls (what are little brothers for?), but the change has been incredible in my little old man. When we brought Nino home, we expected resentment, but we got something completely different.

Sophie, Nino, and Brisket (Mario too!)

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 12:10 PM
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What a touching and beautiful story and tribute to Nino. Nino, you are a wonderful brother!

Jackie & Willow
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 01:30 PM
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Thanks for sharing a great story.

Diane and Molly
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 01:37 PM
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Just wonderful.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 02:42 PM
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Such a heartwarming story, thanks for sharing!

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 04:46 PM
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That is an amazing story and so very sweet. Who would have thought a youngster could have that much impact on an older dog with established tendencies. I just love hearing that. I am going through something right now and working hard to reverse it. Hershey has been well socialized since we brought him home at 8 weeks this past March. He has never had any issues meeting people or other dogs. Oliver our older Hav is the same. Hershey went for his neutering just recently and ever since then he has been showing on occasion fear growling at some dogs we meet. On two occasions the other dogs approached his face sniffing and he snapped at them. I was devastated as I have never had a dog do this. I cannot help but wonder if something happened at the vet clinic that has now instilled some fear of strange dogs and he is reacting in this way. I am determined to get him through this and not give in to the fear. I am basically starting to socialize him from scratch again. He does not do this with dogs he knows when he meets them and not with all strange dogs he meets for the first time. Usually they are larger dogs when he reacts. Yesterday we had a huge breakthrough and he met 6 new dogs large and small from 100 lbs down to a Chihuahua and made 1 little growl at the 100lb guy, who is a huge love bug, and by the time we left I had to tear him away from the big guy because he was cuddled in beside him on the grass. I was so happy you have no idea. He was a perfect gentleman with all the others from the get go. Each meeting was a waiting to exhale moment. I totally understand how you must be feeling about these milestones Nino is helping Mario through and unless you go through it you don't realize what a big deal it is. I just think Nino is fantastic for being such a sensitive little guy and Mario must be feeling so much less stressed because of it. Keep up the good work little Nino.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 07:43 PM
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It is amazing to study dogs and watch their instincts kick in when called to duty for some reason. I am so happy your two dogs have bonded. I am sure that they had to have sensed that you were wanting this to work. Your demeanor around them both had to have played a role in the positive outcome.

My pup loved every dog he met until an over exuberant dog pounced on him in aggressive play. It scared Tux so much, he still does not trust that dog. His owner does not know how to teach the dog manners, and the owner's response is to just tug on the dog silently to keep him off of all other potential victims . A lot of poor dog behavior begins at the opposite end of the leash. You never know what happened at the vets. Some inexperience vet tech, or any kind of bad experience could have cause Mario's issues. Good for you for not giving up on him, and good for Nino for coming to the rescue.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-07-2016, 09:52 AM
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Pixel had a bad experience, being charged by a large pit bull when she was about 6 months old. (Fear period) From that point on, she became very afraid of larger strange dogs, even if she could only hear them barking in the distance. We've worked hard on repairing the damage, and she has become much better. But there is a HUGE difference in her depending on whether she goes on a walk by herself or if she walks with the other two. On her own, while she is "OK" now, her tail goes between her legs if she sees a big dog, especially behind an invisible fence. (Which, of course, to her looks like there is NOTHING protecting her). When she is with her "Posse" she looks at them, sees that they aren't worried, and trots right on past.

Interestingly, we went camping in Oct., and the campground had an "early Halloween" for the kids on Sat. Late afternoon. We were visiting friends who have two whippets who are extremely calm, and she knows them well. I was thrilled to see that she walked the campground amond a zillion kids in costumes and dogs of all sizes, many of which also were wearing stange costumes. She did GREAT "protected" by her brother and sister and two big (to her, at least!), calm dogs.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-07-2016, 10:02 AM
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That's a great story about Pixel and the Halloween adventure. I had to laugh at the thought that maybe he didn't mind it cause the majority didn't look like DOGS! LOL.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-07-2016, 07:22 PM
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What a wonderful story! I agree dogs are amazing beyond what we can imagine. I love this.
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