Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hedge: Petting Him Into Submission.

Sharing the Space

Our ongoing campaign to socialize Hedge is beginning to show results. You’d have to know him well to see how much progress we’ve made, and those of us who do find it most encouraging. Where previously we were able to approach him and then pet him a bit before he ran away, now he hangs around and insists that we pet him until he decides that it’s adequate. Until recently he was unable to look at us while we were petting him and instead kept his eyes averted downward and his back to us. Now he looks up at us and squeaks his demand for attention. Progress is most certainly being made.

At the beginning of the campaign I started by picking him up from wherever he might be napping and taking him into the dining room to brush him and rub some toothpaste on his teeth with my finger. When he started running from that, we stepped back a bit and started petting him whenever we found him in an accessible place. Carol will sometimes pick him up and carry him around the house while she pets him. He seems to like that. In the morning he will often sit in the bedroom window and do a bit of bird watching, at least that’s what he wants us to think he’s doing. Really, he’s just waiting for me to pet him. I’ll walk up behind him and start to scritch him behind the ears. He’ll allow that for a short while, but then he turns around and hops over onto the bed and insists on a more thorough treatment. If I stop before he thinks he’s gotten enough attention, he’ll look over his shoulder at me and give a little squeak. When he has gotten all the affection that he feels he can handle at the moment, he’ll jump down and trot off somewhere to take his morning nap.

I noticed over the weekend that his fear of strangers has abated somewhat as well. On Saturday night we had some friends over for a dinner party. Hedge, as usual, disappeared as soon as the first guest arrived and remained hidden throughout the evening. In the past, he’d remain hidden until well into the next day, and when he did come out, he’d be quite skittish for a day or two. After our guests left on Saturday, Hedge came trotting out to eat a late dinner and to scout the floor for leftovers. By Sunday, he was back to his normal routine.

It’s gratifying to see him holding onto his progress at this point, rather than suffering the temporary setbacks he had previously experienced. Given the positive results of our current campaign, I’m thinking that Hedge’s future holds more and more of the same sort of treatment. It’s a matter of rewarding that behavior which we want to see more of and not rewarding his shy and timid side. Ultimately, we are hoping his sweet nature and his desire to become part of the group will win out over his fear. I suspect that it will.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect it will, too. You're right - it's so gratifying when the step out of their shells. Little One has really taken to my neighbor - she doesn't run away when she looks at her with her eyes and even so far as to let her pet her a little. I love it! It makes me happy to know that Little One isn't afraid of everybody.