Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 11, 2015

Time to Get Seriously Social

Posted at 08:25AM - Comments: (33)

This summer is FLYING by. There is so much to do. But there’s one task right under my nose that hasn’t been getting done, that HAS to get rolling: socializing “Mommy,” the Dachshund/Chihuahua-mix I’ve been fostering for . . . gosh, I don’t even know how long.

Let’s see, I went to the shelter looking for a puppy to photograph for an article in the June issue, and we put that together in April . . . When I saw this cute little mommy dog trying valiantly to protect and raise her tiny, single, three-week-old puppy in the shelter, I immediately asked if I could foster them both. I took them home that day.

I didn’t do that much with the mother dog while she was busy raising her baby; they needed to be together. But the puppy was adopted a month ago . . . and while I do take the mother everywhere I take my two dogs, and have her practice the minor daily behaviors I ask them for – come, sit, down, “food bowl wait,” go potty on cue (for pee breaks during the day), hop in the car, get out of the car – I haven’t been focusing solely on her social skills, and she needs remedial work. Is it possible this dog has been here for almost four months, and still hasn’t really met that many people?

I hate to admit it, but yes. The poor little dog doesn’t even have a proper name, yet! It should be something that sort of rhymes with Mommy, though, because she responds really well to that; since she’s been spayed, though, and not going to have to be a mommy anymore, I really want her to have a nice identity of her own.

And that’s the challenge, for two reasons: First, because my local shelter, like so many, is full of Chihuahua-mixes in every shape and color. This “type” of dog is so common that it’s hard for people to be able to pick a really nice one out of a crowd. But this is a very sweet, smart, funny little dog. She’s completely nonreactive to my cats and chickens, and is happy to ignore any other dog as long as they ignore her. If, on a walk, we encounter a yapping, hysterical little dog, or a barky, giant dog on the other side of a fence we are trying to walk past, she sidles calmly to my far side, looks a little blinky, but doesn’t engage with the dog and certainly doesn’t get hysterical herself. She bonds with whoever takes care of her very quickly and tightly, and just sort of goes with the flow.

That said, the second challenge to getting her adopted is the way she “shows” to new people; she’s afraid of new faces and voices. She cowers and tries to hide, and if she’s really trapped and someone comes on very strong, she will growl a little. I’m having every member of my family and every visitor to my office give her treats when they come, and she’s improved a LOT – but I don’t have nearly as many friends coming by as needed to super-socialize her. And I haven’t made an effort to take her out to parks and public spaces where I could work on some dedicated counter-conditioning and desensitization. But that’s what I need to do to get her comfortable enough to be able to find a new home.

So, be it resolved: She’s the project of the month. But, would you help me out with a name?






Comments (33)

She looks as though she'll be happy with any name you chose, but if you're fostering, not adopting her, why not leave the name selection to her 'forever family' when she gets one?*

Posted by: Netnanna | August 12, 2015 9:43 PM    Report this comment

How about Sunshine? Sunny for short.

Posted by: LuckyMom | August 12, 2015 4:44 PM    Report this comment

You said"go with the flow"...... Call her "FLO" (or Molly sounds like Mommy).

Posted by: Nfigura | August 12, 2015 3:49 AM    Report this comment

I will be interested in how you over come her fears. We adopted a very cute 3 month old Dach/Chi. Thor was fine with dogs but very aggressive to the point of biting any people he met. We took him on a 4 day camping trip and everyone had treats and lots of love for him. We could not always tell what would set him off. My father took him for a walk but when he handed me the leash, Thor turned and nipped him on the leg. We have a very active household, kids and dogs coming and going so made the hard decision to take him back the the shelter. We crate train and follow the 100 experiences in 100 days theory.

Posted by: Kody | August 11, 2015 10:12 PM    Report this comment

I had a wonderful Aunt Monnie (sounds like mommy with n's in the middle). :) She was smart and beautiful...just like Mommy.

Posted by: Nadine | August 11, 2015 7:28 PM    Report this comment

What about Tommi?

Posted by: Amy D | August 11, 2015 6:14 PM    Report this comment


Posted by: shepjr | August 11, 2015 5:02 PM    Report this comment

Why not Leilani (means pretty or beautiful in Hawaiian or Sugar or Sugar Bear!

Posted by: shepjr | August 11, 2015 5:00 PM    Report this comment

What a sweet little face! I did that with a mama cat (called her Mama, affectionately) that showed up with her 5 babies. The goal was to find her a nice home, but they seem harder to come by for cats than for dogs. So, now I have a mama cat and two of her babies, 2 years later. She's now called Nala, but "mama" still comes out, so does Lady, which I almost named her, so that I could shout, "hey, Lady!". I digress. Personally, I like the suggestion of Molly, but Mimi, Minnie, Marley, Moon (or Moonie) sound great too :) Good luck!

Posted by: Simbasmom | August 11, 2015 4:55 PM    Report this comment

What do you think about Buttercup?

Posted by: TootieToots | August 11, 2015 4:15 PM    Report this comment

I would pick a name that is 'hip' right now. Who is in the news that is getting good reviews? A newscaster, female author (Harper Lee is really big right now) a female lead in a top movie or animated movie so it relates more to kids if you think she would do well in a family home. A country singer or sports. Vanessa Williams & Miranda Lambert are big now. or Jennifer Aniston with her marriage. Just as examples. It can be a variation of the name. My dog now who was a foster who didn't get adopted after a year I kept him. Initially I named him Regis, yes like Regis Philbin & now, 5 years later when people ask his name, "O how cute just like Regis Philbin" so they relate cause it's a well known name (and apparently the man is well liked by a lot of people). I don't think it needs to rhyme but it's a good story if you pick a name like mommy, you can then tell potential adoptee's that you chose a matching name because of the situation and they would feel closer to the dog.

Posted by: Angelina | August 11, 2015 3:11 PM    Report this comment

I gotta tell you she looks like a Poppy!

Posted by: liz1 | August 11, 2015 2:55 PM    Report this comment

She is adorable....How about "Mandy".

P. Irene

Posted by: P. Irene | August 11, 2015 2:50 PM    Report this comment

How about Emmy. Kind of goes with mommy at least the last syllable. She looks like such a sweet dog. Give her time and she will become more socialized and remember not all dogs she comes into contact are not well socialized; thus some of her behavior is probably understandable and appropriate given her circumstances.

Posted by: Genie | August 11, 2015 2:34 PM    Report this comment

Monet like the French impressionist painter
Moon or moonlight
& my favorites for a little dog; MOOSE or MOOSY!

Posted by: JM | August 11, 2015 2:15 PM    Report this comment

I think a cute name would be "Poppy".

Posted by: Geraldine | August 11, 2015 2:09 PM    Report this comment

Honey- a sweet name for a sweet dog and also her color.

Posted by: msu1975 | August 11, 2015 1:46 PM    Report this comment


Posted by: Tennisrat | August 11, 2015 1:13 PM    Report this comment

how about balmy

Posted by: LORRIE_THE_LEO | August 11, 2015 12:41 PM    Report this comment

it is not really important what you name her as long as you call her with love in your voice Be patient let her meet people stand in front of a food store were people go in and out constantly let her see that there is nothing to fear .She probably misses her pup I would name her Lovie because she has so much love to give good luck Jassmine

Posted by: Jassmine | August 11, 2015 12:06 PM    Report this comment

how about "Connie"?

Posted by: sandyeggan | August 11, 2015 11:50 AM    Report this comment


Posted by: Pamelanator | August 11, 2015 11:22 AM    Report this comment

I like the name "Amy". It's simple and sweet!

Posted by: Pamelanator | August 11, 2015 11:21 AM    Report this comment

She looks like a Molly. With the same beginning and ending sounds, there would be no retraining.

Posted by: lyndainCA | August 11, 2015 10:56 AM    Report this comment

I think Natalie came up with a great one: Connie. It reminds me of a classy blonde which she surely is!

Posted by: Alice R. | August 11, 2015 10:55 AM    Report this comment

How about Mimi? That sounds somewhat similar to mommy...

Posted by: margeam | August 11, 2015 10:45 AM    Report this comment

How about Molly?

Posted by: LizNJ | August 11, 2015 10:38 AM    Report this comment

I like NAMI as mentioned above. It's unique and has a nice ring to it:)

Posted by: ladybug | August 11, 2015 10:38 AM    Report this comment

I really like NAMI as mentioned above. It's unique :)

Posted by: ladybug | August 11, 2015 10:35 AM    Report this comment

I did not see my comment posted..I don't think it was offensive. I just registered with WDJ and have been receiving it as a gift from my sis for years. About that sweet girl. I think ou could just change her name to anything, but what about Maureen.? Who do you contact to adopt her. I do have friends that contact me about adopting a dog. She looks so sweet. How big is she?

Posted by: Nancy Dively | August 11, 2015 10:25 AM    Report this comment

I personally think that you could change her name completely. I believe a lot of the recognition is in the tone. Anyway, What about Maureen? Similar, I guess. Question, how much does she weigh? Any idea of her age? Who do you contact about adopting her.? THanks.

Posted by: Nancy Dively | August 11, 2015 10:22 AM    Report this comment

How about Tommie, short for Thomasina? I know, Thomasina was the name of a cat, but she's cat-sized!

Posted by: Julie - Connecticut | August 11, 2015 8:48 AM    Report this comment

Names that sound similar to "Mommy":
-- Bonnie
-- Nami (I knew a Tsunami who went by Nami)
-- Honey
-- Lonnie
-- Dolly

Or, since there aren't many super adoptable-sounding names that rhyme with Mommy, you could new-cue-old-cue and pick something that suits.

Good luck with socialization month. Her face reminds me of a dog-friend of mine named Constance. (Hmm. Maybe Connie? I hadn't thought of that one.)

Posted by: Natalie | August 11, 2015 7:57 AM    Report this comment

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