Sunday, February 26, 2012

For the love of Dutch ...

After a bit of a scare this week, it only seemed fitting to write a post about our "child" - a 9-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer named Dutchess. She also answers to Dutch, Dutchy-Doodle-Dandy, Doodle-kins, Pretty Girl, Dutch-ems, and Cuddles, just to name a few. At any rate, this is a bit of a long one, but please bear with me. It's for a good cause. :) I promise not to make you cry like the Sarah McLaughlin commercials!

Dutch is a rescue dog. Before we had the pleasure of giving her a permanent home four years ago, she first spent four years as part of a family who couldn't keep her due to moving into an apartment, and one year with an elderly lady who came to realize she didn't have the time or energy to devote to such a high-strung breed.

When I adopted her, I knew she had energy - I could tell by the way she bounded into my house, ran from room to room, and sniffed every square inch, but as a young, single, twenty-something, I didn't care. She would be the perfect companion, and have enough energy to keep up with my walking, running, and exploring. Besides, I had been waiting my whole life to have my own dog.

 And so, Dutch and I walked, we ran, we ran errands, we drove out to the countryside to see my parents. And when it was time for me to leave her and go to work, I had no doubts that as a five-year-old dog, she would be fine if I left her out and didn't crate her. And for a while she was. But then, I began to notice her jumping up at the window to watch my car pull out, or I'd come home to accidents, and eventually I came home to scratched door frames. The final straw was when she locked me out of my apartment after scratching open the door, gnawing on the door knob, and somehow turning the deadbolt. This was the time she broke one of her canine teeth in the process ... and that was when I knew I was in far over my head. She had separation anxiety ... like this ...

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So I had no choice but to begin crating her - in an airline carrier eventually after going through two black wire cages on which she'd popped wires or bent openings from which she could pry open the latch. (See, smarter than most.) 

Fast forward four years later, and we've tried everything ... pills, herbal supplements, fragrances, training, exercise, but most of all, patience and lots of love. I truly believe it's gotten better. She still needs daily medication, which is equal to human doses of Prozac. And she still has lots of energy, loves to run and play. But in the evenings, she is a pet-lovers dream. She cuddles with us on the couch, curls into a ball on her bed  and sleeps while we watch TV, or gnaws on a bone. She gives us a look that means "I need to go out," stands by her bowl when she needs water, and sits politely while waiting for us to feed her.

But this leads me to the main point of this entire post. While she has been getting better, it's been a long road, and some of the reminders of the desperate, anxiety-ridden dog she used to be will never go away. This is why last Monday evening, while cuddling with Greg on the couch, she had a full-blown anxiety attack when he tried to pet her head. She yipped in pain, and began panting heavily, salivating, pacing, and was all-in-all inconsolable, due to what we eventually found out was a fracture in her snout. How does a dog crack a bone in their nose? By trying tirelessly to free herself from an airline carrier while having a tooth infection, which softened the bone. The tooth with the infection? The canine she had broken a few years ago.

After bloodwork, x-rays, antibiotics and pain medicine, we can tell she's feeling better. She's back to her old self ... but if the infection doesn't clear up, it could mean removing the tooth. More money, and still no permanent solution to the damage she's already done and the anxiety she'll continue to have. I guess we'll see how this week goes.

So, as I look at it, I realize this post isn't the most uplifting. Sorry! But I thought I'd share what we've been going through in case someone else is having the same experience. If nothing else, it's comforting to hear that someone else can sympathize, or has similar stories of their own. If so, please share! All three of us would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!

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