Friday, November 19, 2010

DOG OF THE DAY - Jaffa

THE DOG AFRAID OF EVERYTHING

Jaffa came to the Charlton household in the United Kingdom as a second dog.

Kath Charlton relays the story "When my first dog Mitzi was 8-years-old, I persuaded my husband to get a second dog."

Jaffa came to them from the RSPCA, which does re-homes (from home to home). An 18-month-old male collie crossbreed became available from a man who had been ill on and off and couldn't care for him any longer.

The first meeting of Jaffa Kath said, "What a mess Jaffa was and terrified of everything. He was extremely stressed and never settled once bouncing all over the settees in nervousness. He had hair missing all over his back-end. The ill man said he had a flea allergy!"

Kath was torn whether they should take on this responsibility, but husband, Keith surprisingly said yes they should.

Jaffa came to live with his saviors.

It was soon apparent he was terrified of traffic, people, loud noises and also reactive to other dogs when he was on lead. In addition he soiled the house and had separation anxiety.

Kath said, "Everytime i came home i had to clean up the mess!! So so annoying!!"

Dogs learn from other dogs and the Charlton's collie crossbreed, Mitzi helped Jaffa. She helped him get used to traffic with Jaffa learning by Mitzi's calm example. Today, Jaffa is steady around traffic of all types and sounds. He was ready to absorb his lessons.

They soon discovered Jaffa also didn't like to be bothered in sleep after four-year-old daughter Jess jumped on him and he snapped at her. He had good bite inhibition and no bite marks resulted, however it meant one more thing to watch.

Jaffa led Kath to study dog psychology in any magazine she could find. An advertisement about courses in this subject matter caught her eye. She signed up.

With Jaffa, Kath may not have the knowledge about dogs she has today. She said, "The dog psychology course opened up so much knowledge and understanding. I could now understand why Jaffa was how he was due to genetics and poor sociialization. I could now help him and wow, it felt fantastic."

Jaffa's learning accelerated under Kath's guidance. He learned to like seeing people and soon he began to trust them as they always had a biscuit for him. His dog reactivity subsided and his fear aggression altered as he learned to focus on Kath and be highly reinforced with tasty cheese. His perception of seeing dogs changed.

Off lead Jaffa became skilled, "perfect', Kath says," of reading other dog's body language.

Then clicker training came into Jaffa's life. That was all it took to see his confidence soar. Kath says, "He trusted, respected and grew in confidence."

His coat also started to shine with a change of diet and aloe vera rubbed on areas of missing hair. As his hair grew back, his state of mind changed. He felt better mentally and physically.

Kath says, "I provided him with many 'feel good factors' such as, stuffed kongs, stuffed bones, hidden food, walks, & play."

A second child later, three years had gone by and Jaffa was confident, happy and all occurred with gradual change.

I hear this a lot when dogs start to change over time and owners say what Kath said, "wow is this the same dog!!"

A bad start may have led Jaffa to have health issues. Jaffa's health has been a roller coaster, according to Kath, although he is fit, in good body shape and tone and exercises frequently, when he came to them he was underweight and suffering from loss of hair and with a low mental state, stressed, and no confidence. Over time stress can take its toll on a dog, like it can on a human, and often health issues are the result.

Last year he was diagnosed with a grade 6 heart murmer. This is when I became interested in him on Facebook and the year long journey Kath has had with Jaffa. He underwent scans at a specialist and all sorts of tests. Facebook can be enriching, revealing and create great friendships from afar with only words on a page to reach the distance.

Kath says, "The result was that one of his valves is deteriorating and letting blood back into the chamber, which makes for a loud heart beat gushing noise we can clearly hear sometimes. He is now on heart and water tablets that are keeping him alive. Jaffa still comes out for his walks with the dogs...he doesnt like to be left! He looks older every day...but he is still enjoying life:))"

Jaffa is 12-years-old at this writing (November 2010) and you can read his trust and love of his family in his eyes. He has an amazing bond with all the dogs in the family. He is calm, relaxed with EVERYTHING he sees and hears. What a change!

Jaffa CHANGED from afraid of EVERYTHING to emerging from a cocoon of confusion transformed into a truly fantastic dog, according to Kath. His life has been a journey of knowledge for Kath and without him, she may never have the skills she has today, like so many of us who've met special needs dogs along our pathway, who have helped us grow.

This is Jaffa's story. He is inspirational Thanksgiving Facebook story!!

p.s. For videos of Jaffa, go to YouTube. For photos friend Kath Charlton.

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