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Just wondering if anyone here has used D.A.P. collars or plugin diffusers for the home and if they saw any positive results with it. My dog is fearful of people and the trainer suggested it to help in the behavior modification process. Thanks!
 

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I use a DAP for Basil because of his separation anxiety. I think it does take the edge off just a little bit. But I haven't seen a dramatic change in his behavior. It may work better for dogs that have minor/moderate anxiety or fearfulness, Basil has a rather severe case of SA. I DO know, though, that behavior modification is the most important thing!

Good luck with your dog and I hope you see some progress with your dog soon!
 

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All I'm gonna say since I've never used the product (but know many disappointed people who have) is that when you use a pheromone which is usually a scent to attract the opposite sex usually for the purpose of breeding certainly wouldn't calm me down. The prospect of sex to a dog is going to arouse them MORE not calm them down IMO. I mean really... think about it...
 

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There are LOTS of ways to help a fearful dog, and this only is one of them. These things work for some people and fail miserably for others. They can't hurt and might help.

If your dog is fearful of people, behavior modification is the best way to help her.

See the following resources:

http://www.fearfuldogs.com
http://fearfuldogs.wordpress.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shy-k9s

All I'm gonna say since I've never used the product (but know many disappointed people who have) is that when you use a pheromone which is usually a scent to attract the opposite sex usually for the purpose of breeding certainly wouldn't calm me down. The prospect of sex to a dog is going to arouse them MORE not calm them down IMO. I mean really... think about it...
Actually, you're wrong. The pheromone used in Dog Appeasing Pheromone mimics the scent that a mother dog gives off to her pups. Whether it works or not depends on the dog, but it has nothing to do with mating.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for everyone's responses.

Dog_Shrink
Re: Anyone used D.A.P. - Dog Appeasing Pheromone?

All I'm gonna say since I've never used the product (but know many disappointed people who have) is that when you use a pheromone which is usually a scent to attract the opposite sex usually for the purpose of breeding certainly wouldn't calm me down. The prospect of sex to a dog is going to arouse them MORE not calm them down IMO. I mean really... think about it...
Maybe I'm not looking at the right sources, but I haven't seen anything indicating that DAP is used for attracting the opposite sex. During my research of it so far, it's described as being a pheromone that the mother dog secretes from her mammary glands after giving birth to help her pups feel more calm.


There are LOTS of ways to help a fearful dog, and this only is one of them. These things work for some people and fail miserably for others. They can't hurt and might help.

If your dog is fearful of people, behavior modification is the best way to help her.

See the following resources:

http://www.fearfuldogs.com
http://fearfuldogs.wordpress.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shy-k9s
Yes, I am well aware that behavior modification is the first and foremost best type of treatment for my dog. That's why I stated in my original post that I was thinking about using DAP "to help in the behavior modification process." I do not think that it will be some type of magic bullet. I just wanted to know if others have had any good experiences with DAP or if it's just another version of snake oil. You've definitely got a point that it can't hurt and might help. If it at least takes Molly's anxiety level down just a little bit, it would be a big help while we are working on her fears.
 

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Something else that will help calm her down "naturally" is tryptophan suppliments. You can get them at most suppliment stores. It's the same stuff in turkey that makes us so tired after thanksgiving. It has a similar calming effect on dogs. I've had several seperation anxiety dogs impliment a tryptophan suppliment either thru tablet or real turkey infused into the diet, and have had good success at easing tensions with it.
 

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Something else that will help calm her down "naturally" is tryptophan suppliments. You can get them at most suppliment stores. It's the same stuff in turkey that makes us so tired after thanksgiving. It has a similar calming effect on dogs. I've had several seperation anxiety dogs impliment a tryptophan suppliment either thru tablet or real turkey infused into the diet, and have had good success at easing tensions with it.
On top of his medication, DAP, aromatherapy collar and behavioral modification, for Basils SA I use a pill called Happy Traveller that I believe has tryptophan. It works better than most other sprays, pastes and pills I've used claiming to have a calming effect. I would recommend it to someone with an anxious/fearful dog.

I had totally never thought of a turkey based diet for an anxious dog, though! It actually makes a ton of sense.
 

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Tryptophan has been cited for use in fearful dogs, yes, but what I've heard is that it works better for aggressive or fear-aggressive dogs.

I use L-Theanine in my dog, which is one of the supplements in the popular product Composure Liquid. It mimics alprazolam in that it raises levels of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, but is not an actual drug (comes from tea leaves as far as I know) and has no known drug interactions. It is marketed for animals as Anxitane in chewable tablet form. I just like the $10 human version better than the $40 animal one. Dosage is usually 50 mg twice a day for a mid-to-large sized dog, though I give less to my girl and increase on stressful days.

Really, the bottom line is that all of these supplements are totally hit or miss (even the ones that are ingested). Some people use St. John's Wort or Melatonin, also. It's all about just picking one and trying it.

See this article (one of my faves to give to people): http://www.dogaware.com/articles/wdjanxiety.html

You can also look in to anxiety wraps, such as the Thundershirt (originally created to ease sound phobias, but has other practical uses), as well as the Bach Flower Remedies (which I still am not sold on, but some people RAVE about them).

I'm sorry if it sounded like I spoke down to you, Shiningsummer. That wasn't my intention - just trying to help a fellow fearful dog owner. It's just that I'm so used to talking to the people who do expect supplements to be a "magic bullet" when, in fact, the most they can hope for is that they raise the dog's threshold enough so that learning through behavior modification can take place.

Can you tell us a bit about your dog and the things that the trainer suggested to you?
 

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Well yeah... :p sometimes the obvious isn't as obvious until it's pointed out.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Tryptophan has been cited for use in fearful dogs, yes, but what I've heard is that it works better for aggressive or fear-aggressive dogs.

I use L-Theanine in my dog, which is one of the supplements in the popular product Composure Liquid. It mimics alprazolam in that it raises levels of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, but is not an actual drug (comes from tea leaves as far as I know) and has no known drug interactions. It is marketed for animals as Anxitane in chewable tablet form. I just like the $10 human version better than the $40 animal one. Dosage is usually 50 mg twice a day for a mid-to-large sized dog, though I give less to my girl and increase on stressful days.

Really, the bottom line is that all of these supplements are totally hit or miss (even the ones that are ingested). Some people use St. John's Wort or Melatonin, also. It's all about just picking one and trying it.

See this article (one of my faves to give to people): http://www.dogaware.com/articles/wdjanxiety.html

You can also look in to anxiety wraps, such as the Thundershirt (originally created to ease sound phobias, but has other practical uses), as well as the Bach Flower Remedies (which I still am not sold on, but some people RAVE about them).

I'm sorry if it sounded like I spoke down to you, Shiningsummer. That wasn't my intention - just trying to help a fellow fearful dog owner. It's just that I'm so used to talking to the people who do expect supplements to be a "magic bullet" when, in fact, the most they can hope for is that they raise the dog's threshold enough so that learning through behavior modification can take place.

Can you tell us a bit about your dog and the things that the trainer suggested to you?
Thank you for all the information, I will look into it. I realize now you were trying to help, which is appreciated. After all, I joined this forum for help and advice of other dog owners, so I shouldn't be surprised when someone tries to help, should I? :p

Here's some info on my situation: my dog Molly is 10 months old now and started showing extreme fear of unknown people about 6 weeks ago. Shaking, cowering, loss of bowel and bladder control in some cases, etc. It was a really bizarre change in her behavior because I had her since she was four months old and she had loved people prior to the behavior change. I don't know what the cause of her sudden fear is and I don't think I will ever know. I think that I socialized her pretty well and I don't know of any negative interactions with people. You can read more details in a post I wrote on the first time owner forum http://www.dogforums.com/19-first-time-dog-owner/77709-9-month-old-dog.html I spoke to our vet, who said that she didn't think Molly had anything wrong physically and suggested that I should go ahead with behavior modification. So Molly and I have been working with a trainer who works with fearful dogs. The trainer suggested that I could try a DAP collar in combination with behavior modification. These are some of the other suggestions that the trainer made:

While on walks:

Stay calm
Avoid tightening the leash when someone is approaching
Keep walking with confidence when passing people
Keep the dog moving; it helps to keep her from focusing only on the fear

At home:

Have unknown people avoid eye contact with my dog
Visitors should keep their bodies turned to the side if the dog approaches
Crouch down when new people first meet the dog
Play tug to increase Molly's confidence
Let her win the games that we play
Take her to stores like Petsmart and just sit outside at a comfortable distance for Molly and let her observe people

I have also read several books, the best of which is Patricia McConnell's "The Cautious Canine." I am really trying to follow her advice in the book, which involves a lot of classic conditioning and desensitizing. I don't want to resort to prescribed drugs for my dog at this point, but natural remedies like DAP and some of the other suggestions here seem like they would be great for helping along the desensitization process.

Is your dog fearful also? Can you tell me what did you do for it and how much success you had with your methods? It helps me to learn about others in situations similar to mine and the progress made with their fearful dog. I've read "The Fearful Dog Thread II" but I don't remember if you posted on it, sorry :eek:
 

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Molly is a bit young for thyroid problems, but if you see no improvement with her fears within, say, 2 or 3 months of behavior modification training, I would definitely go ahead and get a full thyroid panel done on her. My vet drew blood for me and I mailed it to the Hemopet Lab in California. Dr. Dodds of Hemopet is considered an expert on canine thyroid problems and her prices are VERY affordable. I was able to ship the blood to her from NY with no problem. It is important to rule physical causes completely out, even if they seem unlikely. My dog's results came back clean, but I plan on re-testing in the future, just in case.

Stay calm
Avoid tightening the leash when someone is approaching
Keep walking with confidence when passing people
Keep the dog moving; it helps to keep her from focusing only on the fear
These guidelines are pretty good, but no real behavior modification is taking place here. Through Classical Conditioning, you want to pair the scary people with something good. Teaching her to cope with their presence through walking past them, etc. may improve her fears, but the association will not change on its own.

What you need to be doing in addition to the above is carrying treats with you on walks. They need to be very high-value to your dog (my dog, for example, goes wild over cheese) and need to be cut in tiny little pieces. (If you are concerned about calorie intake, cut back on her meals a bit on the days you train).

Now, depending on how fearful your dog is, there are different ways in which you can actually modify her behavior using these treats. Some dogs are so scared that they need to be 2 blocks away from a scary strange person for them to take a treat. Other dogs will take treats as they walk past the person. Over all, you want her to notice the person, but NOT go in to a panic. So find the distance that suits you the best. You can simply sit there and feed her treats as people cross on the other side of the road, even sit in front of your house and do the same. Or, you can treat/praise her for passing a person, even if she does get a little bit scared (you cannot make your dog more fearful by gently encouraging them).

You may also have to adjust the times that you walk her. You want her to be exposed to people, yes, but if, for example, she's freaking out on 5 PM walks when everyone is coming home from work, try a slightly earlier or slightly later time. You want to keep her under threshold - ie., you don't want her to go in to that blind panic, because learning CANNOT take place at that point. You want her to be aware of the scary things but not scared enough that she freaks out.

At home:

Have unknown people avoid eye contact with my dog
Visitors should keep their bodies turned to the side if the dog approaches
Crouch down when new people first meet the dog
Play tug to increase Molly's confidence
Let her win the games that we play
These are all very good. Tell your guests to leave Molly alone when they first enter the house, and, if after a few minutes she seems comfortable, they can toss treats to her. Do not let any one reach for her or grab her. Even if she approaches them, they should not be petting her right now.

Take her to stores like Petsmart and just sit outside at a comfortable distance for Molly and let her observe people
A fellow fearful dog owner that I know has had a fair bit of success doing this. Be sure to bring treats with you and feed, feed, feed. You WILL change the negative associations by doing this.

I don't want to resort to prescribed drugs for my dog at this point, but natural remedies like DAP and some of the other suggestions here seem like they would be great for helping along the desensitization process.
I completely agree. I only posted the WDJ article because there are some mentions of nutraceutical supplements like L-Theanine and SAM-e towards the end that might be of interest to you.

Is your dog fearful also? Can you tell me what did you do for it and how much success you had with your methods? It helps me to learn about others in situations similar to mine and the progress made with their fearful dog. I've read "The Fearful Dog Thread II" but I don't remember if you posted on it, sorry
I created both the Fearful Dog Thread and the Fearful Dog II thread ;) My dog Marge is fearful, yes. Her fears have a lot more to do with sound than anything (ie., she has sound sensitivities/noise phobias). But, she does have a bit of a fear of people (men especially) and of some dogs as well. All of this is due to her rough start in life - she was practically born at Animal Control and lived in rescues up until she was a year old.

I did a lot of the things you're doing now - staying calm while walking, trying to keep moving, etc. I also used treats - LOTS of them - and still do. I carry treats on every single walk I take (sometimes I just take kibble) and every time I go somewhere with her. We do not approach people on walks and only approach other dogs if they seem like their energy level matches hers. I WILL body block other people from trying to pet her and do the same if an offleash, out-of-control dog walks up to us. We have also adjusted our walking times and walking places to situations that she feels better about.

Inside, people are instructed to not look at her or talk to her. Not every one follows this advice (sigh), but I'm armed with cookies and feed her like crazy when someone new is around. She has made HUGE strides in this area, and really the only thing left to do is to get her comfortable with people entering the house (she typically fear-growls when a new person comes through the door).

We also took up training, and after 16 weeks of obedience classes, she passed her Canine Good Citizen. Not sure if you're familiar with this test, but one of the items features a strange person coming up to pet your dog. Suffice to say, I nearly cried with happiness when she passed. Now, we compete in Agility and Rally Obedience, where we are enjoying a lot of success. She does GREAT at dog shows, even with lots and lots of people around. You would never know she is fearful when you see her on the agility field (here's proof). Perhaps finding an activity that your dog enjoys would help you, too.

So, overall, I just work at Marge's own pace, lots of encouragement/praise (you can even hear me telling her "good girl" numerous times on the agility course), use lots of cookies, and educate people so that they approach her correctly. It's tough sometimes, and she will NEVER be completely normal (most fearful dogs won't), but it's quite a thrill ride working with her. And I probably would have NEVER gotten in to dog sports if not for her.

Hope this all helps some.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Really interested in an update.. Shiningsummer, have you tried anything?
Sorry, I have been unbelievably busy and haven't had time to visit the forum. My brother just came home from his year-long deployment to Afghanistan, so you can imagine I was happy to see him for the past couple of weeks! :D

Anyway, I have been trying the DAP collar and diffuser in combination with some behavior modification techniques. So far, I have to say I don't really see much progress yet and I don't think the DAP is really helping much. That's ok because I will give the DAP at least a month before I give up on it. I also just read a thread by Nargle I think who said that her dog might be responding to DAP in a smaller area due to a higher concentration of it so maybe that would help too. Of course the major component to helping my dog is the behavior modification. Molly and I have been working almost every day using the counterconditioning and desensitizing techniques that I've learned so far. She might be a little less fearful, but it's still so early on in our training that it's hard to tell if there's really been much improvement. We have had a couple setbacks, but we are just gonna keep on truckin'.:(

For right now, there's one really big scary event that I'm trying to prepare her for: going to the vet. Molly's got a bordatella shot due in about 2 weeks now, so she's going to have to go. She's been to the vet's several times before, but the last time was back in March and she wasn't fearful like she is now. I've been taking her to the building that the vet's office is in and just sitting outside and stuffing her with chicken as we approach, then cutting off the chicken when we leave. It's the only time she gets chicken, and I also praise her like crazy until we turn to leave. We've been doing that for 2 weeks getting closer and closer. At first she was terrified, but now we can be right outside the door of the vet's office and she's comfortable. She actually seems like she wants to go in, but I think that will probably change once I actually open the door. I think starting tomorrow I will start trying to get her to go in and have the vet's office staff give her treats and toys, then we will leave. I hope to try to do that for the next 2 weeks and see how she does. I may also start trying to condition her to a muzzle, not because she's ever snapped at or bitten anyone, but just in case. I'm not sure about that though, I'm still toying with the idea. Usually when she's really terrified, she just cowers, poops and pees, but you never know what a dog will do when she feels cornered.

We also took up training, and after 16 weeks of obedience classes, she passed her Canine Good Citizen. Not sure if you're familiar with this test, but one of the items features a strange person coming up to pet your dog. Suffice to say, I nearly cried with happiness when she passed. Now, we compete in Agility and Rally Obedience, where we are enjoying a lot of success. She does GREAT at dog shows, even with lots and lots of people around. You would never know she is fearful when you see her on the agility field (here's proof). Perhaps finding an activity that your dog enjoys would help you, too.
I would do more than nearly cry if Molly actually got to a point where she could get the CGC, lol! I would turn into a big blubbering baby and embarrass the poor girl! But congrats to you and your dog, you've earned it. I am extremely jealous, just so you know.

It was your post in the Fearful dog Thread II that gave me the idea that agility might be a possibility for my dog. I had thought previously to reading it that agility was out of the question for her because of her fearfulness. Molly's very athletic and it seemed like something she would really enjoy (she loves to jump especially.) It's good to find out that in fact, it's exactly the opposite and that it might actually be a way to help her with her fears. I asked the behaviorist we saw about it, and she agreed. I haven't started her in any agility classes yet, but I definitely want to.
 

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Oh, definitely. Thank goodness your brother is home safe. :)

This is my opinion only but if she isn't going to doggy day care, or a dog show, etc., I wouldn't worry TOO much about Bordatella. It only protects against a couple of strains of kennel cough and the efficacy of it is questioned by many. So if you hold off a while on getting it, I really don't think you'll be doing her any disservice. That's not to say that she doesn't have to learn to go to the vet, but still.

I really admire your efforts outside the vet's office. I have said for the longest time that I'm going to try things like that in parking lots with my dog, but ultimately I've never really done it.

I may also start trying to condition her to a muzzle, not because she's ever snapped at or bitten anyone, but just in case. I'm not sure about that though, I'm still toying with the idea. Usually when she's really terrified, she just cowers, poops and pees, but you never know what a dog will do when she feels cornered.
This might be a good thing to ask about on the Shy-K9s e-mail list. The concern over her feeling cornered is definitely valid. I have heard that using a muzzle will lower the bite threshold of the dog because they know that they are defenseless.. I'd assume that would come from overuse or misuse though.

I would do more than nearly cry if Molly actually got to a point where she could get the CGC, lol! I would turn into a big blubbering baby and embarrass the poor girl! But congrats to you and your dog, you've earned it. I am extremely jealous, just so you know.
Haha, no need to be jealous, but thank you :) We have a lot more work to do. Just recently we had a huge setback regarding walks (fireworks, ugh). We're always working on it, but I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that my dog will be reduced to a panicky pile of putty on walks for two months out of the year (July and August), but at least we still have training to keep us occupied.

It was your post in the Fearful dog Thread II that gave me the idea that agility might be a possibility for my dog. I had thought previously to reading it that agility was out of the question for her because of her fearfulness. Molly's very athletic and it seemed like something she would really enjoy (she loves to jump especially.) It's good to find out that in fact, it's exactly the opposite and that it might actually be a way to help her with her fears. I asked the behaviorist we saw about it, and she agreed. I haven't started her in any agility classes yet, but I definitely want to.
I waited nearly a year after I got my dog to start agility training. It has definitely helped with her confidence level - Marge is a "normal dog" at agility trials and it is amazing to see - BUT, she was already comfortable in the class environment when we started agility. I think that helped a lot. So, if possible, get her in to some basic obedience classes now so she can acclimate herself to the class environment. It will make agility a whole lot easier and more rewarding if she understands that class is a good place and that none of the strangers are going to bother with her (and if they do, it means they'll be giving her cookies :D )
 

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I waited nearly a year after I got my dog to start agility training. It has definitely helped with her confidence level - Marge is a "normal dog" at agility trials and it is amazing to see - BUT, she was already comfortable in the class environment when we started agility. I think that helped a lot. So, if possible, get her in to some basic obedience classes now so she can acclimate herself to the class environment. It will make agility a whole lot easier and more rewarding if she understands that class is a good place and that none of the strangers are going to bother with her (and if they do, it means they'll be giving her cookies )
I was wondering how to prepare her for an agility class, this is very helpful. Thanks for all the info and advice. It really helps to know that there are others out there with the same issues and that there are dogs like yours that have made such good progress.

Yeah, Molly needs the Bordatella shot because she goes to doggie daycare on a regular basis. She loves going there and isn't fearful at all around the employees and dogs there, which I'm grateful for. I'm glad she still has some exposure to people and dogs outside of home that she is still comfortable around.

I'm sorry, I'm not very savvy when it comes to internet forums yet. What is the Shy K-9 email list and how do I access it?
 

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Never used the DAP. I've had very good success with the Anxiety Wrap For Dogs with two separate dogs with anxiety issues. However, it is not by any means a magic potion that will change them into happy go lucky puppies. It calms them down in situations of great stress, usually thunder, lightning, fireworks and similar anxiety filled situations. It works on a similar method to swaddling a baby, applying slight pressure that the dog finds calming. It is just one part of the "overall toolkit" and there needs to always be a more holistic approach to these things, including training, etc. Just my two cents! Back to the DAP, I would guess that is something similar in that it might help, but needs to be a part of a total approach.
 

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My dog has severe separation anxiety that evolved into generalized anxiety. Cracker responds pretty well with the DAP diffuser, but I live in a small apt so I'm sure proximity to the diffuser helps. I can see a noticeable increase in her agitation towards the end of a bottle.
She is also on clomipramine (clomicalm) and I recently added L-theanine to the mix and am happy with the results. She's still a work in progress, and likely will always be, but I have reason to believe we are over the "hump" so to speak.
Patience, consistency and understanding go a long way and I have found that clicker training (or marker training, if sound sensitive) can also be a great way to work off stress and teach new skills. Anxiety wraps and thundershirts (same concept) also can be helpful.
I can highly recommend another book as well, "Help for your Fearful Dog" by Nicole Wilde.
There is also a great website www.fearfuldogs.com

Glad to hear you got a good trainer/behaviourist and are working diligently and kindly.
 

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Okay, here is a little update: I have been using the DAP diffuser at home and the DAP collar now for about 3 weeks now. I was hoping it would help take the edge off her anxiety while we work on desensitizing her to strangers. So far, it doesn't seem to have any noticeable effect on Molly. She wears the collar at all times and on walks in combination with behavior modification. I have been using the methods that Patricia McConnell described in her book "The Cautious Canine." I cannot say enough good about that book, by the way-it is amazing. Anyway, I am probably going to give DAP another month just to make sure that I really gave it enough time.

Cracker-Besides the desensitization and c.c. techniques I have been using, I am looking into clicker training for her fears as well. I had heard of clicker training for obedience, but didn't think that it could be used for behavior problems as well, particularly for something hard to overcome like fear issues. After I did some research, I was surprised to find out it can be used for that, so I read the book "Click to Calm" by Emma Parsons. So far it is it's very simple to understand and I am just trying to get Molly used to the idea that clicker=delicious treats. So far, she's been a quick learner in that regard ;)

So far with our training, my dog doesn't seem to have improved much with her fear of strangers, but we are working on it. In the meantime, I guess I'll just have to put up with her big brown eyes, cute furry ears and her amazing ability to hog the blanket every single night :p. Poor poor me..:D
 
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