The other day I posted the story of how we came to own Gir, our awesome doggy addition to our family. Today I would like to talk about some of the issues we have encountered having picked an abused, neglected rescue dog. Owning this type of dog is not for the weak at heart. It takes a lot of work and dedication to helping a dog of this type. Not to mention the patience required not to ‘punish’ a dog who has not been taught properly. You should never really punish a dog in the first place, that just breeds aggression. I am a huge fan of reward based training.
Having Gir has not been without its challenges. You see Gir has major anxiety issues. Any loud noise or noise of an unexpected nature I should say; will have her quaking, quivering and cowering under our feet. Forget fireworks, a car backfiring, and thunder. Of course, she is scared of those. The sounds I am talking about here are a door closing a little too hard, someone setting a cup down on a table with just a tad bit of force, a lawnmower or one of the many other normal daily sounds we hear. She gets scared, really scared!
During her most scared times, she is the type of dog that needs to be not only touching but being hugged by a human in order to feel secure. This is not our only method of trying to help Gir. We have a Thunder Shirt as well as the Adaptil Calming Spray in our arsenal of tricks. Neither of which do much good for her but we continue to try and use them. This poses definite issues as we cannot always stop what we are doing to touch, hug or calm her.
Knowing the extent of her anxiety we thought it would be best for her if we took her with us when we leave so she is not home alone. This was a very very bad idea!! Okay so imagine taking your kids to school in the morning dog in tow. Everything is going well and all is right with the world WHILE the kids are in the car, in the seat with the dog. But as soon as the kids get out of the car at the school and before you are even out of the school parking lot; you smell it. That horrible, rotten odor of fresh doggy poo. Yup, that’s right; she is a nervous pooper as well as having anxiety.
Now imagine not having anything in the car to pull over and clean it up with. No paper towel, no wipes not even a shirt or cloth of any kind. You now have a situation where you roll down all of the windows to get fresh air while you drive home trying not to gag and vomit to add to the problem. Only to get home and find that the beautiful doggy friend you have in the back seat has paced back and forth from one side of the car to the other in a desperate attempt to make sure there is not one inch of the car seat and door panels that do not have doggy poo on them not to mention her being covered head to toe. The perfect morning right?
So this did not happen once. Of course, I did not learn my lesson from that experience. I thought it was a one time fluke. That maybe she did not have enough time outside in order to take care of business before we put her in the car and left. So you guessed it, I had this most awesome experience at least 3 more times as I tried over and over again to take her with me. I wanted so badly not to have to leave her at home with her anxiety as bad as it is. They were not all trips to the school in the morning, I had tried taking her to the store with me and leaving her in the car for 10 minutes while I ran inside (it was winter so don’t panic), I also tried taking her to the store and leaving someone in the car with her. All failed attempts at returning home with a clean vehicle and doggy.
Then there is the angry side of her. You know the one where she feels slighted that we left her home by herself while we run to the store without her because of the pooing issues in the car. This is the one where she chews up our brand new shoes, figures out how to tip the kitchen garbage (that has a lid) over and make sure to spread it around the house, or the gross habit of getting into the bathroom garbage and tearing up the used feminine products and spreading them around the house. Now, not only do we have to leave her home, we have to put her in a cage when we are gone.
We did have a trainer come over and give us some tips and tricks to try and use to help overcome this anxiety. None of it seems to be working. Some of the suggestions were to make her work for her food. We have a few feeding activities now that stimulate her brain and help keep her active. She does love these activities vs. us just putting food in a dish. We do take her on daily walks and to the dog park. ( We were told not to take her to the dog park because of her anxiety) however, we found not taking her to the dog park causes more issues because she cannot run and get her energy out. If we do not take her to the dog park for an extended period of time she becomes very sad and more anxious from lack of high octane activities. She is very energetic. We were also told to start using a recording of loud noises that scare her and feeding her some of her favorite treats as the sounds are playing. This is in an effort to retrain her brain that good things happen when she hears these sounds. She is way too smart for this one. She can tell that these sounds are coming from the computer or the radio. She knows they are fake and will not respond to them. So this type of training is turning out to be unsuccessful.
Through all of this, she is a part of the family. We will not give up on her or in trying to help her. We will not punish her or get upset with her over these issues. We will remain calm and try to figure out different methods and ways to help her overcome her anxiety. It is going to take a lot of hard work, effort, research, lots of patience and most of all LOVE. For you know, it must be love if we can weather this storm and choose to stay calm on the worse of days.