We’ve begun a new training regimen with The Mutt. Every morning, we leave as a group to get my favourite dog to used to everyone leaving him alone and then returning. It is a slow process and an arduous one.
When we first moved here, nothing smelled like home.
Nothing looked the same.
It must have been a truly scary thing for him.
The only constants for a scared dog were the people who had changed so much around him. Our scents on each other and his on us were all he had. He needed to be constantly with us, as a result. And it had to be all of us at once, too.
Imagine being in an apartment less than 450 sqft in size as a family of three…and a horse-sized Weimaraner. If somebody had to be in a separate room from the rest of the family, The Mutt positioned himself in the hall so he could still see everyone. If a door needed to be closed, he was immediately outside it as your protector from unseen invaders. And if you were in that room with the closed door too long, he would start trying to open it because, obviously, you weren’t safe in there. He seemed to think the moniker Stage Five Clinger was a job title, much to our chagrin, but he took it incredibly seriously.
When The Huzz returned to work, The Mutt was miserable. Forget the fact that Bam-Bam and I were still right there, we weren’t all together. We were a broken pack and it tore The Mutt’s heart apart. Every morning, The Huzz left within the same fifteen minute time frame and we made sure to follow a close routine. Despite him returning every day, it still took us about three weeks to finally convince the dog that everything was fine.
We had three weeks of a Weimaraner who whined at the front door for at least three hours every morning. The first week, he howled and scratched at the door in addition to the crying and whining. The second week, he stopped scratching at the door but still howled periodically. After the three weeks of near constant sadness the whining became episodic. He’d cry a wee bit immediately, calm down, and then a few hours later he’d suddenly whimper again before settling back to sleep.
Here we are, almost a full year and a half later, and going through it all again. Right now, we are in the middle of week one. Things are a wee bit easier this time, though. We’ve remade our home and have re-established our familiar smells and patterns. The Mutt is used to Bam-Bam and The Huzz leaving every morning. It took less time for him to grasp that as perfectly acceptable, too, so I have high hopes for our future.
There’s only one extra person being added to the list of those leaving now! This should be easy, right? This should be foolishly simple!
Unfortunately, though, all this means only one thing. It means being alone.
So far, I’m very optimistic. The Mutt hasn’t been as bad as he was during our first experiment, either! He still hates it but he has more calm periods in between his crying. There is less baying and howling as a whole. He also calms down much faster than he ever did previously. That tiny aspect right there is what has me the most hopeful, too. Seeing how quickly he regains composure is the best indicator of just how far The Mutt has progressed down this very slow road of recovery.
We have a secret weapon, too! We have neighbours! Our upstairs neighbour is utterly amazing. When The Mutt has an especially poor morning, she lets me know (so far, only one!) When he has a fantastically good morning, she let’s me know (so far, no luck!) Perhaps most importantly, though, she is incredibly patient and understanding of what we are trying to accomplish: regaining a semblance of normalcy to our lives.
It is a very, very, very slow road. It’s also much longer than we ever anticipated. …But don’t you worry, Buddy, we’re walking it together.
[Any imagery links back to the source where I found it through Google Image Search with the exception of my own images.]