It’s been pointed out to me that while I have been sharing plenty of cute Dottie pictures on instagram and facebook, I have been pretty terrible about updating her blog. Which is probably because she has been pretty terrible to live with some days (although she is a generally awesome dog). But today she had a major breakthrough in becoming a normal dog!
You may remember that Dottie has what I can only term professional level separation anxiety. This is not separation anxiety where she just needs a buddy, or crate training, or time to settle in to a new home (yes, I’ve tried all of those). When Dottie arrived in rescue and realized that her life had been upgraded, and that she wouldn’t be sleeping in a pen under the deck anymore, she decided that the people who made that happen for her clearly should not be allowed out of her sight. Ever.
Yesterday marked four months that Dottie has been home, and for every damn day of that four months she has been unable to stay in my apartment alone. Actually, for the first three months, she couldn’t even handle being in a different room. (My apartment is 700 square feet, so this is even more ridiculous than you are probably imagining). It was good in some ways – for a dog who had never been properly socialized, Dottie got a crash course in meeting people, dogs, horses, donkeys, goats, etc, because for a long time she had to come with me everywhere I went.
Dottie has definitely been making up for lost time and the lack of social interaction at her previous home – a trip to Home Depot is a two hour excursion so that she can meet everyone in the store (it’s on the list to teach her to pose with strangers for selfies, because we get so many requests!) She is greeted by name at several patio restaurants, and she often extends her walks until she finds a new person to greet (yesterday I thought her tummy was upset when she somewhat obsessively wanted to walk past our building, but as soon as she got fussed over by a stranger she was content to walk home). She is quite the social butterfly, and really thrives on attention. But, I need to have a life too, and her happiness should not depend on me being two feet away, so we’ve been attacking her separation anxiety from many angles, and it is finally paying off!
Most importantly, Dottie is going to Stoney Creek Pet Lodge, an amazing daycare and boarding (and rehab, but thankfully she hasn’t needed that part yet) facility, where she is treated like a princess, supervised constantly, and is learning how to socialize with other dogs, a skill she desperately needed to learn. (if you are local, come to their open house tomorrow – Dottie CrazyPants will be there and would love to meet you!) Although Dottie still is a bit of a drama queen about leaving me to go in, she’s been busted enough now – by staff, in photos, by friends stopping by, and even by not noticing me walking in! that there is no doubt she loves it and has a great time there once I leave. Their staff has been AWESOME at making sure that she has good experiences without me, and helping her learn that I am not the only person who will be kind to her and take care of her. Last week I picked her up late (because of some really exciting things going on at the therapeutic riding center), and when I arrived, Dottie was napping! Alone!
So – her most AMAZING accomplishment of the past four months. Even more important than learning to pee outside. And that jumping on someone’s shoulders is not an appropriate response to them singing. This morning, I decided that Dottie has been handling daycare and boarding so well (and since we have added Prozac to her diet) that it was time to see how much rewiring had gone on in her little brain. Since I had parked in a restricted lot next door, and most people in my building had gone to work, I thought it would be a perfect time to test her out without waking up the neighborhood if she started her usual caterwauling. I gave her breakfast, then slipped out the door to move my car to an unrestricted space, which would take just a few minutes and keep me in earshot. When I came back downstairs, Dottie was so delighted that she almost knocked me down, and did knock a (thankfully pretty tough, but with pretty cool roots :)) plant over, BUT she did not make a peep the entire time I was gone, AND she was not even concerned enough to not tuck into her breakfast!
So, there is hope that with a lot of time and work, eventually Dottie CrazyPants will realize that she can just take a nap when I leave my apartment and that she has not a thing to worry about, and perhaps someday my life will not have to be completely scheduled around daycare days!