Challenge 1: Sunny versus Stairs

I had started writing daily updates on Sunny, but realized I just didn’t have the energy to work full time, provide Sunny with the attention he needed, and blog daily as well. If you follow me on Facebook (personally or through Dream Big, Bark Loudly’s official page) or on Instagram, then you’ve been getting daily updates anyway! Adoptable Retriever, SunnyI will, however, still share the big accomplishments, the funny stories, and the incredible changes as they happen. First: the ‘huge’ accomplishment that is going up and down stairs.

Last Saturday when I brought Sunny home, he was what we rescue folks call ‘terrified’. He had to be carried from the back seat of my car, up stairs, and over to my front door. If I hadn’t had to unlock the door and open it, I would have carried him straight into the living room.

Adoptable Sunny's First Day in FosterSunny had a few hours to settle in and sniff around before Michael got home from the football game. At that point, we decided it was time to take the dogs out and feed them. Sunny wore a martingale collar so he could get used to the feeling of something around his neck, and I hooked the leash to his harness.

As always, Lana ran out the door first with Michael, and Sunny and I brought up the rear. About 5 feet from the stairs, our little foster boy dropped to the ground and refused to move. I didn’t think too much about it, just picked him up and carried him down stairs. However, after several more walks where that 48 pound little mess had to be carried up and down stairs, my thighs and back were killing me. No more!

Adoptable Retriever, Sunny, is looking for a forever home in Florida.

But I cannot say enough good things about Sunny and his desire to please. We spent about 15-20 minutes, treats in hand, going up one stair at a time. And, by Sunday night, Sunny could slowly traverse the stairwell on his own. A week later, he can keep up with the rest of the family! With him, the most important part of training is the praise.

Adoptable Retriever, Sunny, is looking for a forever home in Florida.

If you had asked me then, I would have said it would take Sunny a good week to figure out the stairs. I am beyond thrilled that with just one training session he picked it up. Sunny is treat motivated and smart. And like so many retrievers, he lives to please his handler. With lots of praise and positive training, Sunny is a joy to train. This little boy is amazing and will be ready for a home in no time. Even if his future family lives upstairs.

Adoptable Retriever, Sunny, is looking for a forever home in Florida.

We need to focus on confidence building before we tackle tricks, but this experience has me convinced he’ll be ready for a home in no time. Sunny came to us with so much to learn, and in just one week he has already come so far. I cannot wait to see this boy reach his potential.

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