So my last (and first) blog post introduced the gang, and the newest addition was Annabel, the beautiful blonde lurcher we’d just rescued. Under her list of dislikes, I put thunder and lightning. That was probably the only dislike we’d sussed out at that point. Well, let me add a WHOPPER to that list: being left alone.
For a few hours.
For a few minutes.
Whenever any of us leave the house, or even the room.
We knew there’d be toileting accidents when we first took her on. With rescues especially, you have to expect a degree of mess when you first start out on your journey together. Gradually, things improve, they respond to your consistency and your patience, and they learn what is expected of them. Or so you hope . . .
This has not been the case with our new little lady.
Accidents have become more and more (and more and more) frequent. It seems to makes no difference when we feed her or how often we let her out. She gets plenty of exercise with long daily walks. She is a quick learner in other respects (remember I said her recall was terrible? Well it took very little training to totally turn that around) but this obviously runs much deeper than basic training slip ups. This is separation anxiety in all its stressful glory, and it . . . is . . . tough.
Since getting her, we worked on a philosophy of “ignore the bad, reward the good.” Mishaps were completely ignored, or on the rare occasion she was caught in the act, a firm “no” and put outside. When she did “go” outside, we reinforced a toileting command, and short of letting off party poppers and doing a conga around the back garden, gave plenty of praise.
But it didn’t help. Every morning there are accidents. Every day there are accidents, sometimes even if we have just nipped upstairs to get something. Every time I come home from work there are accidents, and the baby gate has gone back up on the stairs as my daughters room has on occasion been a hot spot – particularly upsetting.
“Ignoring the bad” has become increasingly hard.
We have tried distractions, indifference on leaving and entering the house, diffusers and all sorts of other methods to no avail, and as anyone who has had to deal with this will know, it’s extremely frustrating.
And so I thank my lucky stars that we insure our animals, and our policy with Petplan covers behavioural issues. The vets have referred us and we are getting the help we need in the form of Dr David Sands, a registered Petplan practitioner, expert in animal behaviour -particularly separation issues- and all round thoroughly good egg. If he can improve the situation at all, then my dog, my family, and my carpets will be eternally grateful!
I can’t wait to start helping Annabel. As unpleasant as it is for us, I think back to the skinny, sorry creature I fell in love with at the shelter and wonder just what she must have gone through to make her so anxious. Hang on there wee girl, help’s coming . . .