Slinky and I had met previously in a park where we walked and I had given her treats. We liked each other and I knew she felt comfortable with me.
Slinky’s first session began at 6:30pm so we could work for just an evening rather than an entire day. We greeted each other as old friends who were happy to have more time together.
When it was time for her adopters to leave, she and I went into the play yard at the same time that her adopters said, ‘bye-bye’ in a cheery voice as we had planned. She and I continued into the yard where I kept her on leash and we wandered around. It was a good 5 minutes before she realized that they weren’t there. She went to the door from time to time but was not distressed. She was definitely enthralled by the smells in the yard.
This is the first time she would be away from them. Our initial goal as we form Team Slinky is to not leave her alone so that she won't have any more panic attacks. The three of us would be her support while implementing the separation anxiety protocol.
Slinky is a very sweet and likable dog. Fortunately, she is not a Velcro dog. She wanders around with curiosity and does not need to be exactly by your side. Once the separation anxiety is cured, I think she will be a well adjusted dog.
When she realized her adopters were not around, she did become nervous. She sought me out for comfort and came every time I called her name. Interestingly, she would be lying in a very relaxed settle position, but still vocalizing her abandonment.
She was restless and paced for several hours but eventually became quieter and more relaxed. Even though I was with her, she went to the front and back doors, and sought to find the window behind the curtains. She wanted to follow her family.
I did not reward or support her distress by saying things like 'that's okay'. I did help her cope by performing trauma reduction techniques such as Reiki and Tellington Touch. She especially grew very quiet and relaxed when I was doing her ears. I also gave her Rescue Remedy. She was able to gobble treats the entire evening so I felt that she was not that over stressed.
Most of the time she whined and whimpered softly. At those times, I stayed in close proximity but did not give her attention. But, several times she began to vocalize with increasing intensity and volume. I didn’t want to give her attention for that, but I did not want her to continue this pattern or make herself distraught. I decided to say ‘Stop’ in a firm grounding voice to bring her back to the present where everything was okay. She responded by quieting and calming for 20-30 minutes at which time I performed one of the techniques. Often she would offer her belly and I would rub it soothingly.
I decided to not introduce her to any of my dogs in this first session since she was a little on edge. So I carried her in my arms when I let out Shadow, Tara, Twinkle and Valentino from behind their gates. They were all curious and stretching up to smell her. No harsh words were exchanged. I thought the limited exposure went very well. When they came back in I repeated the procedure. Everyone went to their places and all received treats. A very positive experience was had by all.
When I went to let foster dog Teddy out, I placed Corky foster cat in his big crate as usual, to allow Teddy to pass through his area without incident. The difference was that I was carrying Slinky. Slinky and Corky had a short exchange of pure curiosity. Slinky was attracted to the litter box, of course, and I will guard against her access. Teddy was curious about Slinky as well, but was calm and polite as he stretched to smell her in my arms.
I repeated the outings to the yard several times with Slinky. She was settling into trusting me as part of her team. All went well.