Friday, November 4, 2011

Separation Anxiety: Day 5 of Slinky with Misha May

Slinky has one broken canine which happened during the one and only time she was crated in a wire crate. Injuries similar to this are common. These injuries confirm that the dog is in a panicked state, unaware of the self-infliction of pain. My dog Rena once flipped her wire crate on its side and managed to squeeze through without injury. She then pried open a heavy restroom door and proceeded to greet all of the clients in the building. Buddy and Kabul also both managed to escape from wire crates uninjured. Sadly, many dogs do sustain injuries from jumping off balconies, through picture windows and nosing through crates.

Slinky really has the’ wait’ at the kitchen door. Sometimes she just stays on the couch as I go out – doesn’t even get up when I leave or return. At first I took a treat to the couch to reinforce her calm, but then I started just saying ‘wait’ and closing the door behind me. She is making terrific progress in and around the house and yard.

This girl wakes up joyful every morning. You can see her continuing to relax and look forward to whatever the day brings. No worry, no dread, no anxiety! Still dancing and prancing as she eats! She eats almost all of her food now.

Our next transition session with her adopter will be a walk in the park together. I expect an easier transition back to my house since she will not be leaving me fully and then having to return. I have an exercise planned for building trust.

Kabul, a young dog rescued from Afghanistan, who received help from Misha May with separation anxiety, resource guarding and having lived in the wild his entire life, never had any transition problems. He went smoothly between his rescuers and Misha May. He did however, have a problem being alone and did not want to be in a crate. His rescuers had built him a big enclosure which he escaped from enabling him to come close to chewing his way through their garage door.

When Kabul arrived in the USA, he went to live with two older female dogs. They got off to a rough start when he decided he better fight for the precious food. He also had no manners or understandings for living in a home. He chewed and destroyed anything he could. He had no comprehension of ‘walks’ on a leash. Most of the time he would simply sit or lie down in the shade and seem to be saying ‘I’ve walked around wherever I’ve wanted to my whole life. Why are we following this limited linear path?’

Through Misha May’s program, Kabul is now crate trained, over his separation anxiety, and spending his days at home with a midday dog walker. He is not crated and enjoys the company of the two other dogs. Kabul has many dog playmates, in addition to which, he always makes a favorable impression on the humans he meets. If you want to see an Afghan Koochie Dog, Kabul, or K, is featured in many videos on Msha May’s youtube channel.

This is a short video of Slinky hanging out in the crate. It is so great to see her following along with what my dogs do. Dogs really do help each other so much.

Slinky and Shadow have really taken a liking to each other and have developed an enthusiastic rhythm in their play. They are featured in this video, with Valentino and Twinkle looking on.

Slinky has learned a lot in the mere 1½ weeks she was with her adopters. One thing is, she remembers to lift her leg as she is getting into her harness. I know dogs who still don’t do that after years! I got confused about how it strapped on, and she showed me how.

Another milestone with the car happened today at the library. Instead of parking at the drop box, I had to park in the lot and go all the way inside, out of her sight. I was prepared to abort the mission if she didn’t seem as confident as I thought she would be. But she simply sat quietly as I walked off saying ‘bye-bye’ cheerily. I dropped books off, hurriedly self-checked new ones and was back in a flash.

Often dogs with separation anxiety find comfort in the car, even while waiting by alone. I’m not sure why, but I imagine they think of being in a car as being in a safe haven, a mobile den big enough to accommodate their person too! A car isn’t stationary like a crate where they are certain to be left behind. When Buddy, the 100 pound German Shepherd who destroyed a few homes, came to Misha May for treatment for separation anxiety, he would only stay in the car alone, nowhere else.

Slinky accompanied me to Misha May’s Understanding Dogs class last night. When we were working with the other dogs, she waited patiently with our dog trainer apprentices for about an hour. Some dogs with separation anxiety, Slinky included, need to be with one person in particular to feel safe. Since she has begun this training, she feels safe with an ever increasing number of people. Our goal is for her to remain bonded deeply with her adopters, but to have trust for other deserving humans. This enlarges her world and her opportunities, and decreases her anxiety and apprehension.

Surprisingly, upon arriving home, Slinky went right into the crate! Sometimes she will leave the rest of us in the living room and go lie in the crate in the office. Her natural denning instinct is growing stronger.

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