Some of you have asked that I recount Hachi's history. Hachi's mom was a stray on city streets in Texas. She gave birth to a litter of puppies in that city's streets, and Hachi was one of them. We don't know exactly how they were rescued but they landed in a shelter with a high kill rate in Texas. As often happens, a Colorado rescue said that they'd take the whole family. By the time Hachi was 6 weeks old, the puppies were in a foster home in Colorado.
Around that time, we decided to look for a puppy. Our motivation was to give Shyla a sibling who she could bond with while R was still alive. You may remember that Shyla was incredibly fearful as a young dog. R was her rock, and we thought that losing him could send her into a tailspin. Hence, we adopted Hachi when he was said to be eight weeks old.
We immediately recognized how fearful he was but we thought that we could help him, especially since we met him when he was so very young. I'll leap ahead in the story to say that we were not able to help him on our own. So, we took him to a behavioral vet when he was about 6 months old. When that vet first met him, she brought up the option of behavioral euthanasia - because, as she put it, some dogs will never be happy living in human society. Being afraid all the time, as Hachi was at that point, doesn't make for a happy life.
I started "The Hachi Chronicle" to share our journey after our first visit to the behavioral vet. At that time, I had no idea how it would turn out but I wanted to be up-front about what we were going through. To say that I was stressed out would be a vast understatement. I was terrified that Hachi might hurt one of our other dogs, and I knew that I'd never trust him again if he did. Fortunately, a dog-savvy friend and our vet helped us put a management plan in place to protect our other dogs. Basically, it involved separating Hachi from the others, while they all lived in one house. It has worked, and it's become natural to us although I now foresee that it may not be needed in the future.
Writing out this story is good for me because it makes me realize how far Hachi has come. He's been on behavioral meds and we've done extensive behavior modification training with him since he was 6 months old (he's almost two now). We work with him every day, and progress seems glacial at times. But, when you add up minuscule daily progress over 1.5 years (~550 days!), it turns into big progress.
Back then, I never thought that I'd see him as happy as he is now. I also wouldn't have predicted that he and Shyla would have such a strong bond.
We watch with amazement as he tries out things that used to terrify him. Going into water is one. Until recently, he was afraid of shallow puddles on our old driveway. Now he is choosing to go in the creek up to his shoulders! The key, like for so many other things with Hachi, is to put zero pressure on him to do more than he chooses. He sets the pace of trying new things.
I think that the move to Labrador Valley is helping Hachi make another huge step forward in leaving some of his fears behind. His rehab is a work in progress but I feel more confident about his happiness every single day.