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Monday, August 24, 2015

Melvin's Project Joy

What is Melvin's Project Joy?

Melvin's Project Joy was created to honor the memory of Melvin, a beautiful yellow lab who recently passed away. Instead of focusing on the sad they want to spread joy to other rescue dogs and their families and they partnered with Sirius Republic to do some giveaways and spread some love.

The month of July was about those of us living with anxious dogs.

My regular readers are already aware of Ziva's story, for those of you who are new to the blog here is a quick summary.

Recently Ziva turned 2 years old, she is an adopted American Pit Bull Terrier from California. She was most likely the product of a backyard breeder or accidental litter and was found dumped at an industrial work site as a puppy. The nice workers who found her rather than taking her to an overcrowded CA shelter gave her to a rescue group who sent her to Oregon where we found her through our local rescue.

When we adopted her into our family a little over a year ago she was just under a year old and she suffered from huge amounts of fear and anxiety. Any loud noise and she would tuck tail and hide if not dart behind us, new objects would cause her to back pedal and pull very hard on her leash to get away from the "scary thing." But we saw so much potential in this cute little girl, she immediately trusted hubby and she had a great spark of life in her. She was clearly gentle and we knew she'd be a great match for our family.

After adopting her we worked on crate training to help with her anxiety, lots of exercise, positive reinforcements regarding her crate, music, audio books and months of trying different things we finally got her to settle down in her crate. Now she loves it and it is her safe place, she often goes in to chew her toys in peace or to get away from her crazy brother Dante or her foster brother Jack when they get to rambunctious. Now a year later we don't even need to lock her in anymore! *fingers crossed!* Because she is no longer destroying things when we leave.

Our biggest success though with Ziva was getting her into a local shaping class using a clicker, she learned shaping very quickly and we began to use it to introduce her to new objects and to work on her self confidence through having her accomplish new tasks.

Learning new things and suceeding with tricks and her anxiety began to noticeably diminish even more, and she stopped spooking.

We then began putting her into agility training (agility with Ziva HERE), the obstacles and successfully completing circuits changed her life! Now she flies through courses running full blast and approaches most new things with curiosity rather than fear. She is also now capable of running full blast past crazy barking dogs (Ziva's Reactive Past HERE)  and she can focus on tasks.

Living with anxiety is never easy, but we are learning how to conquer fears. And she's become such a wonderful self confident girl who is a great adventure buddy ready to tackle any challenge and learn new things.

Now Melvin's Project Joy... 
Our story won their month of July giveaway!!

Ziva's new collar.
Our prize was a gift card to Sirius Republic
and with it we picked out a new collar with custom tags for Dante.
Ziva recently got a new collar but don't worry she was heavily compensated with treats!

I just love it, don't you?! I think it looks like a man's tie and the color is so dashing on him!
He is such a mama's boy, I love our custom tags on it! 
His name and our phone number is on the back of the tag.

It is never over, 
some days bring different challenges,
 but every day we make progress with our little girl.

Thank you to Melvin and Jake's mom!
Big Thank you to Sirius Republic for the beautiful collar!!

If you are not familiar with this blog you definitely need to check them out!

Bloghop (1)


  1. You must be so proud of how much progress Ziva has made. Lots of love and patience make all the difference when working with fearful or anxious dogs. Thanks for sharing the info on Melvin's Project Joy. :)

  2. It's so good to hear how much she has come out of her shell. She is doing awesome with the agility! It's still on my list to try out with Bain.

    1. Have fun! We're loving flyball at the moment, but agility is awesome!

  3. Dante looks so handsome & You have accomplished much with Ziva. I follow you on Facebook but have taken a much needed mental health break from that form of social media. We adopted a senior golden retriever last year with anxiety who just turned 11, he came from a horrible situation. Both of your dogs are beautiful

    1. Thanks Jill! Good luck with your boy, I'm sure you guys will do great with him, anxiety is definitely a challenge.

  4. Hi Y'all!

    Love Ziva's smile!

    Y'all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  5. Kudos to you for following through on being patient with Ziva and working with her to becoming the self-confident gal she seems to be now! ...and YES, the collar is gorgeous!

    1. Thanks! With Ziva it's always a work in progress but I love seeing how far we've come!

  6. What a wonderful story. I know you guys have worked so hard with Ziva. What great collars and tags! So stylish! Congrats on your story being picked!

  7. Aww, congratulations! It's always heartwarming to hear stories of anxious dogs' progress. Dante is looking sharp in his new collar! Before I even got to the part you said it, I thought "it looks like a tie!"

  8. Congratulations on your win! It's well deserved. And the collar looks great!

    Seeing a fearful dog come out of her shell is one of the most beautiful things ever. And I love how you emphasize the importance of training and eventually agility work in helping Ziva.

    We fostered an extremely fearful girl 3 years ago. Honey helped her cope with truck sounds and scary people. But Cherie, our foster, helped Honey gain confidence around agility equipment.

    Every dog has her gifts. And Ziva is fortunate to have found a family who helps her discover hers.

    1. Thanks Pam!
      It's been a very rewarding experience for us. :-)


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