As if life could get any crazier, Astro has been with me for almost two weeks now. He is my major buddy-pal and an absolute sweetheart, but we are deep into training to help us get off to a strong start and moreover, to try and remedy some of the guy’s fears and stresses after three years in a Pennsylvania puppy mill.  I am capturing Astro’s first year here in a 365 days set over on flickr, updated with his progress daily. His big accomplishments in our first 12 days together: No more accidents in the house… he learned to go up and down the stairs right away… after some training, he now goes out the side door to do his business by himself … he will “sit” very nicely… and he will leap our dining room steps down on demand like an agility champ. Our big challenge: After some initial success taking walks, he has become super afraid of being outside and just shakes like a leaf when we try to walk on a leash. We think he may have been in a cage or very confined quarters most of his life. I’m working with him several times a day to help him overcome the fear. I am confident we will make good progress, but it will take time.

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  1. pammyg says:

    Your baby is so cute! I feel your pain with the problems walking Astro (The Jetson’s is my favorite cartoon, btw). I have a Missouri puppy mill Shih Tzu named Porter. He was three when I got him, couldn’t walk on leash, petrified of everything, not housebroken, didn’t do stairs. It’s really starting from scratch when you get one of these little guys isn’t it.

    Now that he’s been here 3+ years, my Porter is so much happier and content, not so afraid anymore. And he’s housebroken, so no more belly bands! The biggest problem is he’s still afraid of storms, mostly lightning flashes, which unfortunately includes the camera flash so I can’t take his picture. These send him to the dark inner bathroom, shaking for hours. I think this may be a common mill dog problem.

    I’m sorry I don’t have any ideas for you to improve the walking with Astro, just writing to give support to your choice to bring Astro into your life. with love and patience, hopefully he’ll come around.

    ps, love your blog, thanks!

    Best wishes,

  2. Denise C says:

    I always wanted a dog with a beard… he was going to be called Sea Dog… instead, I ended up fostering ex-racing greyhounds and Seamus somehow ended up staying permanently. I adore him and am ridiculously excited that the little grey patch under his chin is slowly turning into a full-on beard (though very, very short and nowhere near as glorious as Astro’s!)

  3. Stephanie says:

    Hi, Pam – Thanks for sharing your doggie stories with us! I was just thinking about your notes concerning Astro’s shaking when you take him on walks. I have some suggestions, although remember advice (theoretically) is only worth what you pay for it! I have always loved animals, but I have also really learned a lot from watching Cesar Milan of Dog Whisperer fame, and of course patience is right up there at the top of his list too. However, I have also tried some of his simple methods on my cat, as well. Such as, introducing her to an object, letting her sniff it, etc., before using it on her, items like a nail clip, or even a Kleenex. With Astro, I was just thinking about his leash, which you could leave lying around with his toys, so that he has time to check it out and get used to its appearance and smell, etc. Left with his toys, he may also begin to learn that it belongs to him (sort of), and associate it with fun. Also, being a California kid, I can relate to his possible fear/surprise/confusion about snow! Maybe he never saw it or felt it before you adopted him; it’s possible. If you think that’s true, maybe you could bring some inside and leave it in a bucket or tray on the floor where he can check that out, too (maybe he’ll end up drinking it; that would be good too!) I can’t tell how big he is, but if he isn’t too big to carry, you could also consider going on “walks” by carrying him — in a pack, or something. Or, get him used to a toddler-sized wagon with his favorite blankie in it, and take him for walks in that until he feels better about being on the ground. Good luck with your dear new sentient being. Regards, Stephanie

  4. Jen8 says:

    Maybe Astro just hates this cold weather we’ve been having and is holding out till spring for his walkies.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Aww bless his heart! Thank you so much for adopting a rescue, there are so many that need good homes! Also bless you for taking on a mill animal, they are sometimes quite difficult to bring back to normal and it takes a lot pf patience on the part of the owner to help them along! He’s just so precious!!

  6. sablemable says:

    About keeping the floors, etc. clean from filthy paws. I taught my Shelties the command, “We have to wipe our feet,” and they sit and present paws on command (“Right paw, Max). it’s easier to wipe off snow than mud, in which case I keep a container of clean water near the door. Again, I make happy sounds and the Boys love it. They also get a bit of dog treats as a reward.

  7. sumac sue says:

    That blue and white sweater means Astro is a Kentucky Wildcats fan, right? Since you have Kentucky roots and all. How good of you to take in Astro and love him. He will give you lots of love in return.

  8. Jeff says:

    Hi Pam, what a cutie! You will do well, and they are a smart breed, too.

    Just keep it consistent with him, and slow as you suggest, and it will take time and patience.

    Funny, my calico (one of three cats) is named Astro! Picked her up under a leaf outside in a driving rainstorm, was only 1 month old- now 8 months and well trained!!

    Don’t worry about your Astro’s shaking, you are probably right about him being daunted by the great outdoors- this will pass.

    Congratulations, and kudos for saving our furry friends.

  9. 52postnbeam says:

    Was the name Astro influenced by any chance by the terrier Asta from the Thin Man movies? Your little guy is adorable. Love the bed, the sweater. I took in a feral cat, Julius – he’s been with me for a year and I’m just barely able to sneak in a pet every few weeks. He never bonded with people and is so fearful (though he loves my other cat). Time and patience… rescue animals are grateful for the love.

    1. pam kueber says:

      @52pnb, he named after the jetson’s dog, astro. @peterinj, thanks for the vote of confidence. i’ll tell you, i had to call denise today for a pep talk. right now, my new tack is to let the little guy chill so he gets used to us on his own terms. we’ll feed him well, keep taking him outside on the leash for just 5 minutes at a time, but otherwise – take it slow.

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