Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Separation Anxiety: Day 2 of Slinky's treatment with Misha May Foundation

Slinky continues to be a joyful sweet dog. She is friendly to my dogs who are behind their gates. I continue to carry her as I tend to the other animals. My approach to meets like this which involve multiple dogs is to allow them so much friendly access and positive associations that by the time they actually meet, they feel like old friends.

Slinky ate her breakfast in the living room at the same time as the other dogs ate in their spaces. She ate most of it dancing lightly around in between bites. She really is quite the little dancer.

Understanding Dogs apprentices Pauline, Desarae and Mary came for a meeting and Slinky enjoyed the extra attention. She is very relaxed and friendly. She engaged some of the time and rested on the couch some of the time. I left her with them when I went outside and they said she looked toward the door but didn’t seem distressed. She whined slightly. We are building her family of folks she feels safe with.

Slinky has investigated each of the crates. I have not set hers up in the living room yet. I will include bedding from the other dogs’ crates to make it more familiar and enticing. All of the crates are wire like the one she freaked out in prior to diagnosis and treatment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TE6Vpm1U7LM&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL. I’m pleased that she doesn’t have a completely negative association to them. She went into Tara’s crate and found her chewed bully stick – that is a good association! Then she went into Twinkle’s and found a toy which she played with. Another great situation! When all of the other dogs were outside, she laid in Twinkle’s crate while I typed. I am very pleased with her choice to do that. One of our goals is crate training so that she will have that option to feel safe and for travel.

I let Slinky meet and play with Valentino, a 3 year old neutered male beagle mix, as I thought they would be a great match. And they were! They ran around the yard like crazy. It was so beautiful to watch. They both like to chase and be chased so they alternated. It seemed that they had boundless energy and joy.

Slinky & Valentino playing in the yard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyXh9eXVKMA

Slinky then met Tara, Twinkle and Shadow individually as they walked outside to go to the yard. Slinky did very well with each, smelling and greeting and following along like a puppy. Twinkle was her sweet self; Tara avoided and offered claming signals as usual; Shadow ran at her and way from her vocalizing as usual. She accepted each interaction matter-of-factly. I was impressed. This is great because now I don’t have to carry her. I’m not ready to have them all in the yard together but I will most likely let her experience each of them separately in the yard today.

Slinky napped with Valentino and me on the couch. I know Shadow, my 3 yr old neutered male rat terrier, is missing the closeness with me and I with him (right now he is behind me in the chair as I type). Soon we will all be napping together again but my slow methodical approach to integrating Slinky with my dogs will help avoid issues of jealousy or feeling overwhelmed.

Slinky ate her dinner more routinely. She seems to enjoy that everyone else is eating in their spots too. She runs from her dish to each gate at the entrance of rooms to create camaraderie. She dances and wags that long tail in a celebratory manner.

Now that I am not carrying her and she is not accompanying me every second, I am teaching ‘wait’ at the door between the living room and the kitchen in order to tend to the other animals. As I said ‘wait’, I threw a few small treats at her and when she turned to get hem, I closed the door. She was kept busy finding the treats and had no time to worry. When I returned in two minutes, she was dancing expectantly on the other side of the door. She was not distressed but was happy that I had returned. I kept our reunion low key and pleasant.

Slinky began paying with a tennis ball that was lying around. I am pleased that she is initiating self-soothing practices such as lying on the couch and diversions such as choosing toys to play with. When feeling safe and relaxed, she seems a well adjusted dog.

I don’t see signs of abuse. I wonder why she was brought to a shelter. Was she already exhibiting separation anxiety behaviors such as destruction and her owners didn’t know that she could be cured, or didn’t want to try? If so, how was this condition created? How was it first triggered? Maybe her family loved her and dropped her at a shelter for financial reasons. This would explain why she felt so abandoned and is now pathologically bonding to her new owner. The abandonment experience can be like death to dogs both literally and figuratively. Sometimes they end up killed in overcrowded shelter; sometimes their hearts break and their souls fade without the love and security they were accustomed to having.

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