The Monster in the Yard

Third in a series

Newt did well on his antianxiety medication. He was alert, happier, and playing with a new puppy but there was no home run. He continued to douse the house when his people were out of sight, although somewhat less often. He certainly suffered from separation anxiety but I was still missing something.

We needed to gather intelligence on Newt’s activities when his people were away from him. Drones? They’d only cause paranoia. So I advised Anna and Tom to purchase a home surveillance system like a Nest Cam. Of course, this was an invasion of Newt’s privacy. We assured him that his secrets, some of them anyway, were safe. I swear. Watching the video, I knew right away that we were onto something.

The great Dane mix and older golden Retriever snoozed on the furniture. And there, in the corner of the screen, was Newt pacing. I watched him move slowly from the living room to the sliding glass door and stop for a gander. After scanning the yard he strolled over to the wall and hiked his leg to release a generous stream.

I was immediately reminded of a comment Anna had made earlier about how hard it had been to get Newt to exit through the sliding door. He would take care of business on leash walks but never in their yard. And so I asked, “Do creatures visit outside?” To which she and Tom replied in unison, “Oh, there’s the big fat black cat.” Tom explained that Newt was “driven absolutely mad” when he spied this beast boldly sauntering beyond his reach. Sightings were consistently followed by a fear-driven indoor whiz.

It turned out that Tom and Anna loved cats as much as dogs but because Newt barked and growled at all kitties, except their sole feline pet, they doted on this stray who dropped by several times a day. Did they feed him? Oh, sure, in prodigious quantities. Newt was not only stricken with separation anxiety but fear of foreign felines.
Next week: Not in my back yard.
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Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet behavioral or physical questions on or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.