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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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Any advice appreciated. Long post-Sorry

Shadow was found at around 15 days old unconscious and dying in a filthy old garage. It took me almost an hour to get her to a vet, she never moved but I could feel her tiny heart fluttering beneath my hand. The vet said she'd never make it and offered to 'deal with the body'. I got her through the night, and the next day. She was covered in bugs and filthy, but a quick bath fixed that. A steady diet of formula, chicken breasts and puppy food soon began to show results.

A week later she started vomiting live worms, the vet thought she was too weak for a commercial dewormer, so I found an herbal one that seemed to at least knock them back. She started gaining weight again.
At six weeks he advised against vaccinating as she was still pretty thin and had a bacterial skin infection that was being treated.

Eight weeks vacs and she spent 2 days stumbling and bumping into things. Twelve week vacs and huge behavior shift, snarling and lunging at things not there. Vet maintained no issues. Sixteen weeks, last shots and over my protests and behind my back they gave rabies as well.

My puppy that was housetrained at 5 weeks and learned sit in minutes, stopped learning and became shy, snappy and uncoordinated.

Fast forward 3 years. Shadow has learned fetch, and almost come, runs weave poles when she's upset and has created a den under the foundation of the house. She knows speak, spin, out and leave it, but refuses down.
She has an under-developed heart, and lungs, impaired vision, suffers from food allergies, cannot take any kind of stress or pressure. She swings wildly between savagely fear aggressive and totally shut down. So far training has been pressure free, marker words and praise, no discipline at all other then losing attention. She does not bluff and she's quick, so muzzled off the property. Crazy high ball and prey drive, huge food motivation. The only dog I have ever seen run backwards, she is so sensitive a frown or clenched hand sends her into a fit.

Curious about other thoughts and opinions, suggestions on management and training welcome and wanted. Please do not suggest euthanasia, it isn't happening. I will add that in the house and her own yard she is sweet, goofy and pretty well mannered.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 07:47 PM
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sounds like you know her and deal with her better than people on the internet could ever tell you.

Would love to see a video of her running backwards...

Just keep on keeping on and continue to monitor her surroundings for the safety of her and of others.


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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 07:53 PM
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I agree with Anne...One thing I would add is, have you ever considered the vac's causing vaccinosis?? Honestly, I wouldn't vaccinate this dog ever again..

She sounds like she is in the best home possible and you are doing all you can for her

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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 08:01 PM
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Personally I wouldn't suggest euthanasia. This dog has beat so many odds that I would be proud to meet her AND lots of respect to you for doing everything you can for her. If what you are doing is working, then keep doing it. Use reward and praise. Use food or a toy. I would be careful with the shots to, especially since she really didn't have a normal development, but oh what a fighter...both of you

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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 08:02 PM
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Do you have a second dog? How is she with other dogs?

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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 08:15 PM
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Hats off to you for being this incredible person. How many would do all that you did. That dog is so bound to you forever.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all. I have to say I was expecting a much different response. A scared, bitey Shepherd is not a popular thing.
I would like to be able to take her out and have her enjoy herself, which is why I'm asking. But I have been advised that for her it may always be a life of management, not so much training. Every positive trainer I could find refused to work with her, some nicely some not so nicely. The working dog set is just to forceful for her.
She's only 62 lbs, so it's not like I can't just pick her up and move her.
Several people have said she's just spoiled, but that's hard to believe when she is frozen in place, eyes shut, shaking, drooling and moaning.
Here in Alberta I am not concerned about vaccines and yes the holistic vet agrees with vaccinosis. But I am moving to Ontario and will have to seriously weigh the risks as Rabies and Distemper are both common there. We don't have them here so that was a no-brainer, last case of rabies was in 1994? I think.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 08:19 PM
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First, tell any and everyone in your area NOT to go to that vet.

On management - fenced yard with 6 ft or higher fence, padlocks on the gates, consider 2 sets of gates - sorry can't think of the correct name - where you have to go thru 1 set, close the gate, then go thru the 2nd set. 2nd fence line inside the first one if there is a chance of anyone approaching your fence. Signs on the fence. Crates inside, access to front door blocked. Back up collar regardless if using a flat, prong or harness (harnesses can be backed out of)

Training - nosework, depending on how bad her vision is- hand signals. Hand signals may be a tough one with her sensitivity to hands or it may help with it. any number of tricks, clicker training, anything that will work her brain, tug, set up some agility equipment in the backyard if her body can handle it. How is she with eye contact? Focus?

The down position is a tough one for FA dogs to do, or at least for mine it was. It took a lot of luring, rewarding for even a second of a down, rewarding when he went into a down position on his own.

As for euthanasia not being an option, totally understand that. I have one of my own that many would pts. If you are able to manage her, keep her and others safe, then enjoy her.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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Yard is fenced securely, gate is kept locked, signs are up, neighbors, postman and meter readers are aware she is there. We have been shaping behavior, rather then working on commands. So basically she is learning that anytime she follows me I treat or throw the Frisbee, if she comes to me for pets same thing and anytime someone is near the fence she is conditioned to grab the Frisbee before checking it out, she can't bite with a toy in her mouth. We taught her to touch my hand when she is scared and also on command to redirect her attention. I use body language more then hand signs. So dipping a shoulder, turning my head, etc. And she LOVES agility equipment. We do scent work, finding objects, simple tracking, etc. She has an unbelievable nose, and we had started accelerant detection, which she loves, with a friend of mine who is a fire investigator. But she would need to be a lot more controllable.
Other dogs are a toss up, some she likes, some she hates, most hate her.
She was socialized, went to work with me everyday, met new dogs and people, walked on different surfaces, played with a variety of toys.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 11:00 PM
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To be honest, given how you found her and the condition that she was in, I believe THAT is the first line of issues that you are dealing with. She likely didn't get what she needed when she was developing and trying to fight off all of those things that were happening with her little body. She had a rough start, and that can impact her development greatly. That I feel is likely the main reason for the issue. I don't think that the vaccines likely helped any. Her immune system sounds like it probably was underdeveloped and trying to vaccinate her like you would most other puppies, she sadly didn't have the same kind of reaction that you would normally see.

No real training advice for you, but you definitely are taking on a hard case. Some days it isn't what you are doing but the dog itself that can have some short comings. We had a deaf and slightly blind foster dog for a bit. He was a victim of his condition. If he was alone, he was terrified and would destroy anything he was left in. We literally had to have him with us or have him with another dog at all times. He couldn't understand when dogs were saying, hey back off, and it started to escalate as he grew up. He was in essence terrorizing the other dogs, even if it wasn't coming from a malicious place.

But I wouldn't instantly blame the vaccines. They likely did not help matters, but her beginning sounds like that was the first step to a long road due to the ups and downs she had in her little life. Kudos to you for taking her in and working with her however. Few would want to keep up with a dog who needs a lot of extra care.
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