Second in a series
Diane and Richard called from the shoulder of I-40 right after Jasper, the roadside beagle, had a desperately needed drink and a snack. If you don’t carry dog food on a road trip a ham sammie from the cooler works just fine.
I’d treated their aging miniature poodle for congestive heart failure. We stayed ahead of Mandy’s abnormal heart rhythms and the fluid in her lungs until her 16-year-old ticker just couldn’t sustain life. We had shared that sense of relief when treatment adjustments reduced her symptoms but I always had to remind them that more challenges lay ahead.
You could see right through Diane’s denial as her special girl worsened. With tears in her eyes, and Richard’s too, she divulged her chronic depression. Medication and counseling had helped but she feared a slide into darkness when she could no longer hug little Mandy. And of course, that day came.
Over my career I have helped many pets and their grieving people through this sadness. Dogs and cats of my own, who had held my hand through tough times, have left my life. A replacement pet? Not yet. Allowing time for a loss to endure its miserable process finally eases the pain.
Diane didn’t know she was ready – but then Jasper happened. He was one sick pupster but I could tell right away that he’d flagged down the right motorists. We started the little guy on IV fluids and nestled him into our warm water blanket. Small, frequent protein-rich meals helped him along nicely.
Jasper wasn’t long in his new home when his anxiety disorder threatened to spike his new mom’s wheel. He wasn’t Mandy; he was someone else altogether. When home alone this hound dog barked and yodeled, chewed the furniture, pooped on the carpet, and scratched the nice wooden door. Chaos reigned. Ungrateful dog? Ah, no.
They started with scolding, crate confinement, and of course, more scolding. Does this sound like a winning strategy? If you’ve tried incarceration and verbal tirades, don’t feel bad. Come back next week.
For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
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 Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet behavioral or physical questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.