Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Karma is a Bitch

A couple of years ago, I volunteered to adopt a dog from a friend of a friend when she could no longer keep the dog. This dog came with warnings: he was on Prozac and something else (I don't remember what), wore a choke collar and an electric shock collar, and had a behaviorist. I gave it a try, and collected the dog, crate, remaining food, various collars and leashes, medications, and so on, and brought everything home. That night, the dog was (voluntarily) in his crate, and when my cat approached the crate for a sniff he nearly bit the cat's head off. Later that same night, while the dog was laying on the floor, I approached the dog to pet him, and he growled at me. I called the friend-of-a-friend to ask about this and whether his growling was common, and she proceeded to blame his growling on me because, obviously, "Everyone knows you shouldn't go up to a dog that's laying down!" She also promised to call the dog's behaviorist to try to find some explanation. Later that same night, the dog again growled at me, and I ultimately decided that this pairing wasn't going to work. He just had too many issues - after all, what sort of dog needs Prozac and a behaviorist?

About that karma thing: Meet Sadie:
We adopted Sadie in late December, when I saw her at the shelter and just had to take her home. She's a great dog; she's smart and loyal and makes funny faces at us. But she's also got ridiculous separation anxiety. And by 'anxiety,' of course, I mean 'unholy terror of a dog who rips apart our house when we're gone.'

Her haul, so far, includes:
  • 4 throw pillows (including two nice big Crate & Barrel feather pillows)
  • 2 couch cushions
  • 2 TiVo remote controls (both replaced via overnight shipping from Best Buy)
  • the corner of our couch
  • multiple flip-flops (and generally only one of any given pair)
  • 2 coasters
Why don't I just keep her in a crate? That would solve all the chewing problems, and give her somewhere secure to stay while I'm gone. Right? Well, no. She's also chewed up two of those plastic pans that line the bottom of dog crates, and has tried to bite through the wire crate, and I'm worried she's going to seriously injure herself in a fit of panic. So no crate.

So my options are: crate her (not really a viable option), make sure one of us is home with her at all times (not practical), or keep her confined to one room while we're gone and hope that she does not destroy anything or injure herself while we're gone (currently the frontrunner). Because we don't have any good options, I've been talking to her vet, and while they've been great, they finally told us that they didn't think they could be of much more help (which is okay; they're really great in all other respects). They referred us to the veterinary behavior clinic at Penn, and in the meantime, to help with Sadie's panic when we leave, have prescribed her an anti-anxiolytic. On the plus side, though, when I talked to the people from Penn they sounded like they see cases like this a lot and can probably help us. Which is good, because the other alternatives are not so appealing.

My dog has a behaviorist and takes drugs. That karma; it'll get you every time.

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