Monday, November 17, 2014
Mondays with Myrtle - The first in an occasional series
Today, we introduce you to Myrtle. We wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look of an animals journey, start to finish.
Myrtle began her journey with Animal Friends on Oct. 11, 2014. She was transferred from another animal welfare agency.
Myrtle is estimated to be about 11-1/2-years old. For the first eight years of her life, Myrtle lived with her owner in an apartment.
When Myrtle was about 8-years-old, her owner had to move in with her sister and left Myrtle alone. Once a week or so, she would stop in and provide food for Myrtle. This was the only human interaction Myrtle had for three years. The apartment was not heated or air-conditioned, there was no litter box and the only available water was from the toilet.
Myrtle was severely matted when she was rescued, but acted in a friendly manner to her rescuers. Unfortunately, the veterinary care she required was uncomfortable and her behavior turned to distrust of humans. However, resolution of her medical issues (such as hyperthyroidism and a urinary tract infection) may bring about a change for the better in Myrtle’s behaviors.
Prior to her admission, Myrtle lived in a foster home. Her foster mom stated that Myrtle would only eat food every other day. We think this stems from the rationing of food she was forced to use in her prior living situation. She overcame this and continues to eat well at Animal Friends.
Myrtle is completely deaf and has some significant visual impairment so our Behavior Team is taking this into account while planning activities and enrichment games.
Myrtle’s behavior change project will begin with trust and confidence building and will use a high-value reinforcement (we discovered she LOVES tuna!).
Trainers will reward any desirable behaviors: eye blinks, ear movements, paw movements that are not swatting and changes in body position. Handing out some tuna when she exhibits these actions will reinforce them and help Myrtle learn that humans are here to help.
Myrtle is just one animal, of thousands, that has come through our doors with behavior and health issues. Because of our dedicated and talented staff, she has made progress already in her very short time at Animal Friends.
Please stay tuned and keep up with Myrtle's progress, hopefully – sooner rather than later – she'll be another happy tale in Animal Friends' book.