I apologize for not giving you an update sooner, but everything's fine.
Maggie and Mollie have bonded and are best friends. Sometimes Maggie's constant "play mode" gets to be a little much for Mollie, and Mollie gives her a low growl punctuated by a bark in the face, which sends the message: "Enough!". But rarely. Usually they run around like madmen until their tongues are hanging out. Sometimes they'll lay down together, but most of the time Maggie likes to be where I am, wherever that might be.
At first it seemed as though Maggie was bonding with the kids, but she has since decided that I am her "number one human." She's great with everyone else and loves the kids, but when I come home, she goes out of her mind, slamming her feet on the floor until I crouch down and let her sniff me and cover my face with enthusiastic kisses. If I don't crouch down soon enough, she'll remain in front of me, slamming her front feet on the floor until I do. She also does this when she REALLY needs to go out, or if I'm a little late with supper.
Her socialization is coming along nicely. I take her out at every opportunity, and she's great in the car, having learned that car rides end with picking up a family member or with a walk in the woods (both dogs love this) or a trip to the Pet supply store, where the owner gives her holistic treats and lots of petting. However, if we're out walking and someone gets too close to me, she will growl, but she responds to "Ah!" and a tug on the leash.
Maggie has put on some weight, although she's still kinda thin. I feed her well and offer holistic snacks as part of training, but I think she burns off the calories playing and running around. We're working on come, sit and stay, and she's very good at all three when she wants to be. "Come" is a challenge when they're playing, but she'll follow Mollie and Mollie will go back and get Maggie when Maggie lags behind; right now I'm working on having her come to me without Mollie being around. She's getting better, but I have to find a way to get her attention on me and keep it there when I'm more than a few feet away. I recently tried whistling, and that worked great, but I'm not exactly a champion whistler so that might take some work on my part. Once I have Maggie's focus, she'll do anything I ask. I give her a word, "Hup!" when there is something to climb or jump up on, and when she hears that word she'll "paddle" with her front feet until she reaches the stairs or the thing she's going to climb. "Down" means we are going downstairs or down off of something. Although she's hopped out of the truck a couple of times on her own and landed nicely, I tend to be cautious in letting her hop down because she could get hurt. "Easy" means she is about to run into a fence or bush, although that rarely happens in the yard because her mental map is very clear and precise. I also use "easy" when introducing her to dogs, because she cannot see their body language and know if it's okay to play or not (I only introduce her to dogs I know for this reason).
Maggie loves to play with toys, esp. squeaky toys. She's been very good about not chewing inappropriately, and it's easy to redirect her onto her hard-rubber toys when she shows interest in a table leg. She still play-bites, which I am working on. Valerie has successfully stopped the play-biting when she plays with Maggie, but Maggie still gets "mouthy" with me but responds to "Ah!" or "Ow!" and begins licking, which I encourage. Sometimes she will grab my arm with her mouth then "grab" me with her paws and lick, and I guess her need to fix her mouth on something stems from her blindness so I'm not going to be too tough on her for that. As I said, she never uses her mouth on Val anymore (except to lick).
She is getting over her head shyness, and I've been gently grabbing her tail, legs, ears and such, getting her used to being touched, and she's very good with it. She's not crazy about a bath, but will stand still with her tail between her legs while I wash her. She's very good about having ears cleaned, eyes wiped, nails clipped, coat brushed, even though they require her to be still for short periods, which takes effort on her part.
One great thing is she has no behavior issues. None. She'll knock over a broom and will briefly startle and then go to sniff the broom. I was trying to get a pie tin out of a closet and my efforts caused 3 baking sheets to crash to the tile floor, which registered rather high on the decibel scale. Mollie figured the world was coming to an end and headed for the safety of my bed. Maggie headed right for the noise, ears up, tail swaying: "What's going on? Does it involve food? Toys?"
However, I've discovered that she can see light and shadow, because if the front door is left open with light pouring in she'll stand at the top of the stairs and bark. Similarly, if we're outside during midday, she'll look right at us and bark. She sees something, though how much or what, I'm not sure. I work for an eye doctor (human eyes) and he suggested I shine a flashlight on the floor of a dark room and see if she'll follow it. If she catches it with her left eye, she'll follow it and bark. We've decided she needs to be seen by the canine eye specialist, because if there's a chance to restore some sight to one eye, I'd like her to have it while she's young and able to get used to it. If you could give me the name of your contact in Rhode Island, I'd appreciate it, because this is something I want to follow up on.
The other half of our canine family is also doing well. Shy little Mollie isn't quite as shy, and is very happy to have a companion she can play with. Maggie took over Mollie's sleeping pillow, but Mollie happily relinquished it and took over our bed. No one can say Mollie's not resourceful. She's come out of her shell a lot since Maggie arrived and Hope left us, though she's still shy with people. However, she's getting better when she meets folks one-on-one. You'd never know Mollie was the same shy, retiring little mite I adopted. She's still afraid of other dogs, though. It's funny, there's a German Shepherd down the street who barks like mad from the confines of her electric fence when we pass by. Mollie hides behind my leg, while Maggie jumps between me and the noise from the Shepherd, standing at attention, barking and growling her own warning. I don't think Maggie realizes she weighs only slightly more than a shoe and is only slightly larger than one, but she certainly believes in herself, and we do everything we can to help her realize her doggie dreams.
As usual, I've run on WAY too long. Sorry. Pictures coming soon, and I'll shut up now.
...Things are going better than I expected this early on. Angel (she'll have to be renamed...she is no "angel") is doing great and is fitting in with "the girls." She already knows the word "out," and if you utter it, even in reference to something other than taking the dogs for a run, she comes roaring through the house to the door. She's got a very clear mental map of where everything is in the house and runs flat-out, sometimes ending up on her butt when she takes a turn too quickly (which is hysterical). She is curious about everything, and for her, everything has the potential to be a toy. Val and I went and carefully picked hard-rubber toys with bells in them for her, and she chases them and pounces on them like a cat.
She sleeps in her crate next to my bed at night, and usually whines to go out once sometime during the night. Last night she made it through 6 & 1/2 hours before she needed to go out.
I have to take her out without Mollie, becuase Mollie has discovered that this little dog can play a wicked game of chase and yet Mollie remains in total control, because Angel can't see her. So now our quiet, sweet, submissive little Mollie "buzzes" Angel when she's sniffing for a "spot," causing Angel to completely lose her focus and setting the scene for indoor messes. I now take Hope out with us, and she walks ahead to the correct area of the yard and pees, after which Angel follows suit. This works very well.
I am amazed at how Angel runs. Outside with Mollie she races flat-out around the yard, and when she and Mollie face off while playing she drops her head and stares in that way herding dogs do, with an intensity that is not in the least diminished by the fact that her eyes are sightless.
I've been taking Angel places with me, trying to give her good experiences. On Friday she came along when we dropped Phillip off for a weekend of camping with the Boy Scouts, and Angel got to meet some of the Scouts. (In an ironic little twist, the mother of one of the boys trains puppies for The Seeing Eye, so the boys are used to puppies and are very gentle). I explained that Angel is blind so they spoke to her while offering a hand to sniff, and she made some friends. The activity must have exhausted her though, because she fell asleep with her head on Val's lap during the ride home and didn't even wake up when we pulled into the driveway. We had a brief outing yesterday and one this morning (to retrieve Phillip from his campout and greet more Scouts),all of them good experiences that end back home with all that stuff that's starting to feel familiar and safe. Last night, after coming inside from our final pee break of the day and receiving treats, we all repaired downstairs to watch TV and Angel found a comfy spot, laid down and heaved a huge sigh before going off to sleep, which tells me she's happy and content (yay!).
So we are off to a good start. I keep Angel exercised and stick to a very regular schedule. I'm teaching her to sit for the leash and for her meals and treats. When she gets excited she tends to bite, not aggressively, but in the way puppies do when they get excited, and she's learning that's a no-no. I just try to be clear, consistent and patient and she is a quick learner.
I've also been cuddling with her, and she's discovered that human hands and laps and voices are good things, and she'll relax and lean her head on my shoulder when I sit with her in my lap.
Well as usual I've probably given you too much information, but I know Angel's an unusual case and you'd probably be wondering how things are going.