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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Domino Passes Muster

Today was the first day Domino allowed me to pick him up with my bare hands...not only allowed me, but came to me when I called!

The last few days have been trust training as follows: I hold a handful of cereal in my left hand; as he comes to pick out some pieces, I pet him with my right hand; he runs with the cereal then repeat; when my left hand is empty, I invite him into my lap; I do not pet him while he is in my lap, but let my hands brush against his sides; he nibbles my fingers, then leaves.

While volunteers were here today, Domino needed to be moved. I had planned the next step to be picking him up, but it happened unexpectedly. I just tried scooping him up with both hands and he complied. Later, when I called him, he came to be picked up again.

I told my husband earlier today that Domino's whole demeanor has changed. His look is softer...loving and affectionate, like the other rats. When I carried him to my husband this afternoon, to show him the miracle, he said, "He is looking at you like he adores you." Food definitely works, but with Domino, as with Bear, there is more. These are the rats that will be forever loyal, that will have a very deep bond with me. They bit me and I loved them anyway...eventually loving them out of it.

This is my first experience like this and I will do it again. I've never trust-trained biting rats before. I have Debbie Ducommun and Debra Mendelsohn to thank for this. Debbie writes a basic trust-training guide, which I always use. Watching Debra's videos helped me develop a method to add to Debbie's. Bear took 1 month and being neutered to train. Domino took two months and being neutered. They both behaved completely different, having come from different backgrounds. As Debra said, I had to watch their body language. Also, I've learned to communicate with them, which has helped a lot. Debbie says that once they lick food off your fingers, they are unlikely to bite, but Domino did not follow this scenario. He bit anyway, even when I did not try to touch him.

Before writing this, I took Domino to the sofa with me, for the first time since he came here, on September 29, 2012. We watched an hour of tv. He seemed amazed to find himself sitting beside me. We shared pudding, then I let him run in and out from under a blanket while I stretched out.

What truly amazes me is that I have only spent about 20 minutes a day with Domino...all the time I had for him. Even with that small amount of time, I know his heart forever belongs to me...such a small sacrifice, for such a large gift.

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