Mermaid Cat !

 

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Separation Anxiety Part 4 – Crating.

Dare I say it? Are we all sitting down?

***checks over shoulder, touches wood, and whispers***

“I think Annabel is improving!”

On our last diary entry for Annabel’s separation anxiety, I was feeling a little defeated. Whilst I know of much worst cases (howling and destruction etc) to have a soiled housed so many times, for so many days, then SO many months . . . Well it’s demoralising. And it’s untenable to put up with it permanently in a family home.

So the crate was introduced.

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It is very easy to relay our human thoughts and emotions onto our pets. My 4year old daughter was initially upset at us seemly “locking poor Annabel in a cage” and I must admit it took a bit of getting used to for me as well. But to a dog, a den can actually feel very safe, and thank goodness, she uses it happily and under no duress.

In order for Annabel to accept the crate, we implemented a few little tricks:

– Positive Association. Annabel finds nice things in her den. Tripe sticks, treats etc.
– The cage was put up by Mr Furrbuddies whilst we were out on a walk, and placed in the same spot as her bed, so everything was changed in a very low key way. Minimum fuss.
– She was not “put in it” and confined straight away. The door was left open with her old bedding in it for her to discover in her own time. I was surprised how quickly she climbed in and settled.
– The cage’s roof and sides are covered, making it more like a natural den for her. (This is a really top tip to help them settle. )
– My old unwashed T shirt was also put in.

She does have to be in it a lot until we can break the habit of her soiling. It is not a bladder issue, it is a progressive and highly addictive behavioural condition. The theory is that a physically healthy dog will never willingly soil the area they sleep in, and so Annabel will learn to hold on and eventually break the cycle.

We have increased her walks so she’s tired out, and we never release her immediately when we get home/come back into the room. (It’s better if she doesn’t associate the cage with being left alone, to keep it a happy place for her. )

We have had over a week accident free since implementing this. Go Annabel! I’d urge anyone who’s struggling with housetraining or separation anxiety issues to give this method some research and possibly give it a whirl. I knew of crating – obviously, but for some reason always held back. I do think though, that with Annabel it was absolutely necessary. . . and hey, it IS working.

The past day or two, we have even felt confident enough to have short trials of leaving alone her in the house, gated in the kitchen, but with her cage door left open.

TOUCH WOOD

Pee free!! Yey!

Hopefully we can build on this.

And hopefully we can persuade Fluffbomb that we have not put it up as a bunk bed!

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Does anyone else have any crating experience or opinions? I’d love to hear them?

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Pick the Poo Up

I have re-written the words of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. It came to me on tonight’s dog walk after several red wines. I may regret posting this.

Enjoy . . .

I heard there is a dog or two
Whose owners just ignore their poo
‘Cause you don’t really care for rules now, do ya?

You’re conscience isn’t even pricked
When people stand in your dog’s sh*t
You’re such a knob, ’cause you don’t pick the poo up.

Pick the poo up
Pick the poo up
Pick the poo up
Pick the poo – oooooooo
Up.

I’ll tell you now without a doubt
That when my doggy curls one out
I’ll always have a bag on hand to scoop up.
Don’t think all owners are the same
It’s just a few who cause the pain
And don’t deserve their pug or hound or wolf pup.

Pick the poo up
Pick the poo up
Pick the poo up
Pick the (go high on this bit)
POOOOOOO – OOOOOOO . . . UP!
Air grab optional.

Baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this poo upon the floor
It’s such a shame these owners have to screw up.
And if I hear you get a fine
I’ll laugh out loud and drink more wine
And from my lips say “should’ve picked
the poo up.”

Pick the poo up
Pick the poo up
Pick the poo up
Pick the POOOO-OOOOOOO
….up.
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Thank you. I’m here all week.

. . . and apologies to all Cohen fans.

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The Bandana Boutique

I’m not a huge fan of dressing up your dog or cat. Granted, the hounds need a jacket when it’s cold, but as for the bow ties, Star Wars costumes, hats etc – well no thank you. Each to their own but not for me.

However.

I can’t help but melt a wee bit when I see a doggy in a bandana. There’s just something about them, and it doesn’t really count as “dressing them up” to my mind. Honest!

You may also have gathered by now that I’m passionate about animal rescue. The is something extra special about the love of a rescue dog or cat, and with so many pooches needing homes – well why on earth wouldnt you? Adopt, don’t shop.

“Where’s this going?” I hear you cry. Well I shall tell you.

Imagine my excitement when I discovered The Bandana Boutique and their bandanas that proudly display the fact that my furrbuddies are rescues. Happy Mummy.

I just had to do a post and big these guys up. Spreading the word about pet rescue, fabulous service, and fabulous products (loads of designs to choose from, ready made and personalised). What’s not to like?

Follow them on twitter @BandanaBoutiqu1

And yes – they may have used our Annabel’s picture on their web page but, like, whatever.

***does proud Mummy dance all over the living room***

Look how gorgeous they are . . .

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Why Pick a Greyhound?

Ah if I had a pound for every time I’d heard the following when out on our dog walk:

“I’ll bet he takes some walking doesn’t he?”

Then I’d have . . . Well, lots of pounds. Part of the charm of being the proud owner of one of these awesome creatures is – surprisingly to some – the fact they are pretty low maintenance.

When we decided we wanted to take on a retired racing greyhound, we went to the Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust and were given a choice of two that were suitable. (We have cats. This narrowed our choice slightly but don’t assume a grey is a no-go if you have feline friends too.) One was new to the kennel – a very pretty petite girl, silver grey in colour (or ‘blue’ to use the proper description) and a lovely temperament who presented herself beautifully.

We were given a bit of a warning about the second one:

“Now Badger doesn’t present himself too well but that’s because he’s always excited to see people. He barks but I don’t think he will when he’s settled into a home. He has half his tail missing, a torn ear, and floating ribs so he looks a bit funny, but nothing that will actual cause medical problems. He’s been our longest resident to date – people seem to put him as their second choice a lot but never end up taking him on.”

And off he went to bring Badger to us. I glanced at my husband who had thought the blue girl was gorgeous, and he had a knowing look in his eye. “You’re going to want this one, aren’t you?”

Badger tore around the kennel pen and barked his head off. I didn’t find him odd looking, I found him pretty darn perfect and instantly wanted him. (My other half knows me too well.) More importantly, our little girl who was just coming up to two at the time, found Badger hilarious.

Decision made.

He hardly ever barks, bless him. Exactly as we were told. In the home, you’d hardly know he was there, and he is wonderful with our little one. Interestingly, our daughter has some anger issues, and when she’s in a strop Badger is the first one she goes to to calm down. He is a very tolerant chap bless him.

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So if you’ve been toying with the idea of getting a dog, here’s a few reasons why you might want to consider a retired racing greyhound:

– They are not especially built for stamina. Two 20 minute walks a day is required, that’s all, and although a larger breed, they are so chilled out in the home you often forget they’re there. (Often referred to as 45mph couch potatoes.)

– Whilst proper precautions should always be taken with dogs and children, they are very often suitable for homes with kids of all ages.

– Greyhounds CAN live with cats.

– If you like the idea of a rescue, but lean towards a pedigree because you’d want to know the history of the dog, then an ex-racer may be the perfect compromise.

– If your greyhound decides to go for a run – well just wow. They are the fastest breed of dog in the world and there is no sight quite like it. You’ll be the proudest owner on the doggy field!

-Racing greyhounds are bred for their speed, and so are not prone to the congenital defects or temperament problems of many other breeds. Only the fastest, healthiest and best tempered animals are generally used for breeding.

– They have short, odourless coats and often suit people who may suffer with other breeds due to allergies.

We got our Badger from the Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust, who were incredibly supportive and still there to help with any issues that spring up – even 4 years after adopting him. The greyhound owning community is a very supportive one.

And that m’lord is the case for the defence of adopting a retired Greyhound. Amazing, beautiful gentle creatures.

We’ve never looked back.

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I noticed something . . .

I noticed something today.

When I first saw Annabel at the shelter she was emaciated. She had burns on her. She also had a tiny sore patch on the top of her nose, apparently caused by rubbing on the wires of her rescue kennel in distress.

I’ve carefully monitored her as her weight crept up to a healthy one.

I have treated the burns and checked them daily.

But only today did I notice that the little pink spot on her nose had gone. The injury she inflicted on herself out of sheer stress has totally healed – and not because I put cream on it.

And this has warmed my heart and made me smile.

And I wanted to share it.

Maybe she is slowly healing from the outside in. Maybe we really are getting somewhere . . .

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Separation Anxiety Part 3 – One paw forward 4 paws back.

One paw forward 4 paws back. That’s how things feel at the moment. I have been very consistent with Annabel over the past week or two (for those that don’t know our rescue lurcher has separate anxiety – manifesting itself in the form of house soiling . . . Several times . . . Every day. Read the start of our story here.)
So with professional help and a programme of behaviour training put in place, we are soldiering on.

The next step it would seem is a den / cage / crate. Something i have previously had mixed feelings about. Both dogs have already been in a kind of make shift “den” in the kitchen for the past week, and when they are closed in – as expected – there is no soiling. But when out of the den, Annabel will soil the moment we are distracted, be it a phone call, putting our daughter to bed, or even watching a bit of telly. Short of staring at her the entire time she is out of her den (a virtual impossibility with a 4 year old child), there is nothing for it right now but to keep her in it to break the cycle. As this is a little unfair on our well behaved greyhound, Badger, Annabel will be getting her own crate today.

I have been reassured that although this seems extreme, it is none-the-less preferable to rehoming or even more drastic measures.

Our poor girl’s case is quite extreme, and we are certainly not ready to give up on her, so crate it is. I have to think of it as putting her through cold turkey – tough love of you will. We are stepping up the walks to make sure she is sufficiently worn out when at home.

We don’t know her history, but due to the sorry state she was found in it is obvious that her behaviour is the result of human-kind’s failings. She was not treated properly in the first few years of her life, and it is my belief that she has never known love, or a kind home, and she can’t quite cope with it in a healthy way.

Therefore surely it is human kind’s responsibility to try and fix her. Our responsibility.

Annabel came to us for a reason – I have to keep remembering that on a bad day. Maybe other familes could not have coped with the extremeness of the anxiety. Maybe she’d have ended up back in rescue kennels – something I feel sure would be utterly detrimental to her ever finding a permanent home.

I may have to to take deep breaths and remind myself “it’s not her fault” on a daily basis, but we are determined to stick with her.

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You Have Only Us – A Post For Fizz

This was written over on my parenting blog last year (WaterBirthPlease) but now I write a pet blog too, it seems appropriate to share it again with a new audience. I’m sure a lot of people who have older pets will identify with it. . .

Fizz x

Today my lad, you fell over. And it broke my heart just a little. Oh I knew you were getting older, but maybe I’d got too used to telling fellow dog walkers your age, then standing back and looking proudly at you as they marvelled in how young you seemed. I was just saying a number, not really comprehending your age.

The fall didn’t hurt you. You looked to me a little panicked, but with a reassuring word, and a little help, you recovered yourself and you soon forgot. I didn’t forget though. You are a dog that could walk all day long – a companion for my husband on his long treks up hills and peaks. You have climbed mountains and run for hours with the wind in your fur and joy in your eyes. You swam rivers, chased squirrels, and fetched sticks . . . over . . . and over . . . and over.

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But today, you ran up the garden steps in your glee to greet me, and your wobbly old hips gave way a little, and you fell. Even the people that love me most in the world never run to me in shear joy the way my dogs do, each and every time I see them.

When I have a bad day, I can speak to my husband, or a friend, or a relative.
You have only us.
If I am ill, I can call a doctor, take a painkiller, maybe call family for sympathy. . .

You have only us.
If I am bored, I have friends, relations, a daughter, a husband, colleagues, books, films, neighbours, phone calls, and video calls. . .
You have only us.
I’d like to say sorry Fizz, for the times I forget this, and for the times I can’t give you as much attention as you deserve. I’m sorry too for when I may get a little impatient, forgetting your hearing is bad now, when you have shown us and our little tail-pulling toddler nothing but patience. (Thank you for that.)

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And yet you never tire of us. Your trust and love is unwavering, despite not all your dealings with the human race being happy ones. A gentler soul than any person I know, you are a credit to the canine race and we are blessed to have you. Sometimes when I lie by you, I like to trace my finger along your scars. Your awful mystery scars. Because I like to know that that little bit of you has also known the touch of kindness, not just cruelty.

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You are at least 13 now my lad. Your have arthritis and cataracts. You are slowing down, but there is a puppy in there still! The walks may be shorter now, but you relish them. You still put up a pretty sparky chase to your Greyhound companion. You still surprise people when I tell them your age, and you still have the wind in your fur and joy in your eyes.

Long may that continue, my lovely gentleman.

My friend.

Long may we be there to catch you when you fall.

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Sadly, Fizz’s old legs finally gave up on him just before Christmas and we said goodbye to one of the best dogs in the world. We still miss him.

Night night God bless my lad x

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A special friendship

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April 5, 2014 · 7:27 pm

Separation Anxiety Diary Part 2 – implementing changes.

So our lovely animal behaviour expert Dr David Sands visited last week with a wealth of information about how to implement his behaviour programme – a programme that will hopefully help with Annabel’s constant soiling in the house.

There was a lot to take in, but everything discussed was handed to us in written form to go over again in our own time, and were left feeling re-assured and enthused to start. Some things about the programme we were able to implement straight away, such as re-locating the dog beds and clicker training. Some things would need to be gradually introduced over the coming weeks and days. A large part of re-programming our Annabel’s pattern of behaviour, means a big lack of attention for her around the house. Let me tell you: it is EXTREMELY difficult to ignore this face:

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Attention is given at specific times and in specific ways in order to break the cycle, and not just when madam demands it.

(NB – I do realise I am being vague in my description of what exactly we are implementing, but this is with good reason. Dr Sands has spent literally decades studying animal behaviour and modyfying his techniques. Each programme is adapted specifically for individual dog – and indeed family – situations. Our programme is specific to Annabel, but feel free to look at the information on his website , here.)

SO – two/three days in and although it was tricky to remember everything, there was no denying that we definately had fewer accidents. We were doing really well.

Or so I thought.

Four/five days in and we seem to have total regression. Not only with an increase in accidents, but now with the added pleasure of her whining – something she didn’t previously do in the house when she could see us.

Our new regime means that – for now – we spend less time with her at home, partitioning them off at certain times. This is not proving a popular decision, and although she can see us . . . she cries. And cries. And cries. I guess I can understand it – it’s a big change for her. But it’s not much fun right now, and I can’t help but worry if her anxiety level has simply gone up.

I know it is key that I have to stick to my guns. Essential in fact. But because we’ve had a bad few days it makes me question all of my actions. I read and re-read the instructions, and had a lengthy discussion with David over the phone (he is so very generous with his time and keeps the lines of communication open 100% – very reassuring), but for some reason I’m not yet feeling confindant that I’m implementing everything correctly. Mostly because Annabel never responds how we expect and keeps changing the goal posts.

This is hard.

I am anxious myself about getting home from work and what might be waiting for me on the floor when I do. I guess I’ll be re-reading the notes again and hoping I’m on the right track. . . . (and putting Dr Sands on my friends and family list for cheaper phonecalls!)

Got to keep on keeping on . . . I soooo want to crack this. Come on Annabel . . .

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