Monday, April 15, 2013

SociaBulls: Derby Has Always Been a Flopper

We really love how our Chicago SociaBulls group has so many different dogs that walk, for so many different reasons. Though so many times when people see the dogs in the group, they don't realize the stories behind the pups who walk with us. Derby is a gorgeous white pup, with a glamorous pout, that you may have noticed in so many of our walk photos. While she is always so happy walking with the group, while speaking with her person, we learned about the many challenges she'd had just getting Derby to walk. Derby used to spend half of her walks just flopped on the ground. While her flopping was what caused her family to fall in love with her, it soon became a problem on her walks. See how Derby evolved from a flopping dog who needed to be carried, to happily walking among the group. 
Derby has always been a flopper (wet noodle) since we adopted her at 6 months old.  She flopped onto my lap in the adoption room at PAWS and made it impossible to not want to bring her home with us.  On our walks she would flop if she didn’t want to go a certain direction and would not move until she was ready.   Not even treats could get her to budge. 
More often than not she flopped because she had seen another dog.  She would flop so she could try to meet any dog she set her sights on. This was cute when she was still a puppy and she was still light enough that we could pick her up and go on with our walk.   
It is important to note that flopping generally only occurs when I walk her and not my husband. 
As she grew I looked very funny trying to carry a dog that weighs half my size just because she wouldn't walk.   
Most people would stop me and ask me if she was sick or tired when we were only a few blocks into our walks.  On some occasions I have been stuck in one spot with her for a good 20- 30 minutes.  This would lead to me having to call my husband or a friend to come to wherever I was so she would finally move when someone she knew approached.   If I was lucky a dog would walk by that Derby would want to follow so I could at least get her moving in any direction.  Often it was in whatever direction didn’t lead towards home and there was still the risk of her flopping again.
When she turned two things got worse. People had told us that sometimes dogs change when they turn two.  We experienced these terrible two’s with our dog Derby for over a year.  She went from flopping because she wanted to meet other dogs to flopping and lunging at dogs she didn’t care for.  She would also try to jump on runners. I dreaded every walk because they were so unpredictable.  She became leash reactive to dogs and runners.  Anytime I took her on a walk I prayed we wouldn't see people, dogs, or people with dogs.  This was very unlikely in most neighborhoods in Chicago.
We had no idea where to turn because we didn’t want to admit we were having such problems with our dog.  In the safety of our own home she was just a big cuddlebug and lap dog who loves people. My husband started reading Two Pitties and also applied for Sociabulls.  Before our name came up on the wait list, things got even worse and we sent Derby for a two week board and train at Found. The trainer explained that Derby was flopping because she viewed seeing the dogs as a special event and was focusing more on the world around her than on her owners. She needed to be provided with more mental stimulation, more exposure to dogs, and needed to work on focusing on us instead of everything else on her walks. We saw a lot of improvement after those two weeks at the board & train. We were hoping to use Sociabulls walks to continue our training with Derby and were lucky enough to have her name come up on the waiting list after her training ended.  The hope was getting Derby more socialized would help her on our daily walks.  
Our very first Sociabulls walk we asked to be placed in the back because we were certain she would flop when she saw all the other dogs around her.  We have been pleasantly surprised since joining; Derby has been able to be in the middle of the pack without flopping and she usually barely pays attention to any of the dogs.  Derby has not had any jumping incidents with runners since we joined.  While Derby is still far from perfect, we've learned so much about what she needs to make her successful on walks and the importance of meeting new dogs the right way.
Sociabulls has given us so much more than a weekly walk to help socialize our dog going through the terrible two's.  We have gotten a place to share Derby's successes and also people to commiserate with without judgment about our dog's worst days.  Derby has gotten to be a pitbull embassador and hang out with Ms. M & Mr. B at festivals (photo here!). We were lucky enough to have Stickers owner, from La Familia Green,  make the table numbers for our recent wedding that were Derby’s likeness. 
The group even brought us together with Derby’sfoster mom and we got to see pictures of her right before we adopted her. We feel so lucky to be part of such an amazing community.
Thank you so much to Derby's people for sharing her story!

Plus, join our Chicago SociaBulls  Facebook page for more photos and information about group walks. And check out the Hikabulls page where we first learned about the benefits of group walking.


Hannah@Eriesistibull said...

What a great story! Thanks for sharing. We can only hope we have one success story like the ones you have once we get started!!

Kiira said...

It's so great to hear the backstories of many of the pups we see on Sociabulls walks. I never would have guessed that Derby had worked through so much! Monkey also changed dramatically once he hit 2 years old, and it was so disheartening to lose my easy 'dog-park dog' almost overnight.
Thanks for sharing! I love that Stickers and Derby have the same spotted ears! And that 3rd picture is too funny.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard about a dog that's a flopper... I'm things are going well on the walks!

Two French Bulldogs said...

We are so happy Derby is doing well on the walks. A dog behaviorist told our pittie friend that is the best training is walking with other pups
Benny & Lily

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

Awesome success story. I can imagine that these walks would be just the ticket for a dog like Derby! I don't think my bully boy got any MORE reactive/anxious/nutty when he turned age 2...but I think that is totally true for many dogs. I've specially heard it about bullies--but I think its true for all pups.

Froggy said...

I LOVE DERBY!! Who can resist that liiiip. She is such a wonderful dog to walk with and her people are pretty awesome to

Two Pitties in the City said...

We always love hearing the 'backstories' and we love that Derby's family did share her story. Especially the line "we didn't know where to turn because we didn't want to admit we were having such problems with our dog". I think this is true for so many people and it can be so alienating. Miss M was crazy in her youth and I felt really alone. I think sharing stories like this really does help people know they're not alone. Thanks again for sharing!

jet said...

It's so great how your walking group helps so many doggies :D

Wyatt said...

Great story...congrats to Derby and family for sticking with it and finding a solution!


Jannie said...

Hi! Wow, this is such an inspirational blog! I love this! It's the first time I visit this blog, I don't own a pit or anything, but I think this is such a well-written blog that I just had to drop a comment! Wow. Beautiful pictures as well. Great job!

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