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I fostered Kit, a three-year-old female, when she first came off the track in March of this year. She was quite nervous when she came to me and I learned right away that she had a fear of men. As she calmed down, she took a liking to me. She was a sweet, yet more subtly affectionate dog. She always followed me around and she would sit next to me on the couch with her head laying on me. She discovered her love of plush toys and would play all the time. As I was trying to expose her to as many types of people as I could, I learned that she did like women and children. She was actually wonderful with children. From the day that she met my mom's boyfriend's kids (ages seven and nine), she let them hug her and walk her and she would take naps with them. She was really calm and relaxed around my little cousins, too (ages one, five, and seven). I thought that she'd be a great therapy dog for children. By the end of the month, I had made the decision to adopt her. Later that week, while visiting my mom's house, my mom's cat was sitting in a chair when Kit walked up to her and bit her. The cat wasn't injured but after that, I didn't feel comfortable having Kit around the cats. I'd seen how Kit plays with her plush toys and I couldn't risk the chance of her doing the same to my mom's cat. It was hard but I made the decision that Kit needed to be in a home without cats. In April, Kit left me and went to stay in a different foster home. Later that month, I was really regretting my decision to give her up. I asked for her back but the rescue had already promised her to another home. At the beginning of May, our rescue organization had an event. Kit was still with the other foster family and came to the event. I was able to spent the entire day with her, pretending that she was my dog again. We interacted with many different people and Greyhounds and she was not afraid at all. Sadly, I had to say goodbye to her again. Shortly after, Kit went on a visit to her potential home. I had given up on ever getting her back and it crushed me. In early June, I got a phone call telling me that it did not work out with Kit's potential home. I was shocked. I didn't hesitate to take her back. I knew that there was a huge possibility that she could've developed some more behavioral issues after being bounced around but I was just so happy to have her again. I expected that it would take some time for her to open up to me again but I didn't think that she would be a completely different dog. Here's some of the things that have changed since she's been back: - She seems more afraid of men than ever. Whenever my dad and brother return home, she barks at them while avoiding eye contact and backing away. She hides in her crate whenever they come in the room. Before she had left me, she had made so much progress on her interactions with them and would actually walk up to them to be petted but now it is back to square one. - She's now afraid of almost all strangers, including women and children. There are very few people that I've had her interact with since she's been back that she's actually been okay with. - She is now completely terrified of children, including those who she had previously spent a lot of time with. She'll try to get as far away as possible if she's near any. I took her with me to visit my mom's boyfriend's kids and she refused to be around them. She wouldn't even let them get close to her. While the children played outside, she hid in the backseat of the car for the duration of the visit. - When she came back to me, she was almost completely bald on her neck, stomach, and thighs, along with some other bald spots. She had been completely furry when I first got her. - She used to walk really well and she liked to go on walks. She still gets excited when I grab the leash but once she gets outside, she doesn't like to be out there. She freezes (with no obvious trigger) and refuses to walk. - She could now go for days without touching her toys. - One of the things that upsets me the most is that now many days, she acts like she wants absolutely nothing to do with me. She'll spend most of the day just sitting in her crate, in the far corner of the room (instead of on the couch or her dog bed). If she does happen to sit on the couch and if I go to sit next to her, she gets up and leaves. If I try to interact with her she avoids eye contact, licks her lips, and starts panting. She's been back for over two months and she's only laid her head on me once. - Overall, she is just very anxious and lethargic dog now. I did adopt her and I've been working with a trainer but instead of making progress, it seems that Kit is getting worse. For the first month or so, I was just so blissful from having her back but now I am just so upset because I feel like she is a completely different dog than the one I had missed so much. It makes me so sad because I don't know why she has become like this and I feel that nothing that I am doing is making it any better. I just want her to be comfortable again.
This morning Murphy has been acting off. Of course my mind immediately jumps to bloat, even though I realize the most probable cause of all this happened last night, so it's not at all likely (but she came to work with me today just in case). She's been lethargic and panting, with her tail tucked between her legs. She tried to express excitement about breakfast and going outside to tinkle, but she fell short of how she usually acts. She only ate a little bit of her breakfast and then dry heaved for a bit and went to lie down. When I was petting her I could feel her shaking. This is our fourth amazing month with her. When we got her she had a minor fracture in her front right paw. We made sure she rested, carried her up and down the stairs, and gave her rimadyl. She's been doing fantastic, she's been off the rimadyl for the past two months or so and hasn't exhibited any signs of pain. The x-rays ruled out osteosarcoma. Last night I called her to come up the stairs for bedtime; I heard her charge up the stairs, and then I heard a loud THUD, and then she came into the bedroom favoring her previously injured paw. Usually she's so methodical about the stairs so I was surprised that she seemed so crazy excited. This morning I gave her the last half of the last rimadyl pill we have and called our vet. She suggested taking Murphy to work so I could keep an eye on her and rule out bloat (and worst case scenario the emergency vet clinic is only two minutes from my office). Murphy was pretty stoked to go for a car ride. The rimadyl seems to have helped and she's snoozing on her bed right now, she's not panting and her heart rate isn't as fast as it was this morning. She also didn't seem to favor the paw on our way in to work. I just feel awful that she feels awful! Of course I sit and think about what i could have done to prevent it, or if I caused it somehow... Murphy is my first dog as an adult, what if I did something wrong? Murphy is perfect and I want everything to be perfect for her.
Tomorrow it will have been a month since Sammi went to The Bridge. (I know, I know.. I still haven't gotten to writing a proper post to remember her. Still difficult) It's been a rough time for Lynni and River. Not only was it the kick off week for Firework Season (ugh), and having to deal with my being an emotional trainwreck, but Sammi was the Alpha and the Keeper of the Clocks. Will they eventually decide who will step up and put on the crown? Or can a pair/pack get along without a leader that doesn't have 4 legs? When L&R were adopted last year, they just sorta picked up Sammi's Schedule: ~They were fed at 630am and 630pm because Sammi said so. Sleeping in was a rare occurrence. If we tried sleeping in, she would use her needle nose and nasal whine to get us up. And once your feet hit the floor in the morning, Sammi was a ticking time bomb. Had to eat and get outside. ~They went potty right after meals because Sammi said so. #1 & #2 ~They had an afternoon pee break around 1pm because Sammi said so. ~They had an evening pee break and a "right before bed" pee break because... you guessed it... Sammi said so. ~Prior to her decline in health, walks were (every time but winter) before it got too hot and after it cooled down. Winter would be hit or miss depending on wind chill the past 2 winters. The past few weeks: ~it's been hit or miss if they even will walk. ~I can count on 1 hand how many zoomie attacks have occurred. ~Same goes for stuffy play ~Not much roo'ing either. Before vacation, there was 1 roo from Lynni, 3 weeks since Sammi passed, and 0 from River. ~They don't care when breakfast hits. Potty breaks are like pulling teeth. As I am writing this, they had breakfast at 730am and River still hasn't gone #2 and has no interest in doing so. Almost every potty break is like this now. It's like we're back to square 1 when we adopted them. Lynni takes forever, but WILL go potty. River is stubborn. I've finally just stopped trying to make her go and bring her back in. We have enough loons talking to themselves in this town, don't need me out there trying to bargain with her. For a week, River would whine to go outside and then just stare off into the distance, whining. I think she was looking for Sammi It stopped when we decided to feed her in Sammi's old spot at the water dishes and her bedtime treat on Sammi's bed, now her bed. When her confusion about those changes stopped, so did the searching/whining outside. We also had to deal with some seriously mysterious itching. Shortly after Sammi passed, L&R started itching a lot. At one point, Lynni chewed her hip so bad that she bled. Benadryl didn't work. (Fireworks didn't help) We tried bathing them. We tried a dish soap bath when we feared it was fleas (They're on Sentinel & FL+ ) In fact, I had to delay the FL+ a few days because of the baths. I vac'd twice a day, the washer never stopped running, I scrubbed, I inspected, I treated, I sprayed, etc... Want to know how many fleas we found between 2 baths (one being dish soap), dusting vacuuming, spraying and combing? We think.... One. That's it. A possible dead flea. We're not sure. It was discovered on the overstuffed chair, not a dog. It could have been just a dead gnat. Or a chip of a nail. Or an NSA nano drone. So on goes the FL+ now that their skin & fur have recovered from the bathing (and I was determined it would be on & soaked in before we went to the island). Lynni continued to dig and chew at herself, River was sitting down on walks to itch and licking her feet in the house. I was still The Hoover Queen. Then, a couple weeks ago, when the itching was at it's worst, we started switching them to a different food. They love it, poops are firm, and itching has since become almost non existent. Every so often, Lynni will want to itch her belly (nothing there, I look) and River may want to scratch her ear... usually when we're outside and she doesn't want to potty. So we think that we solved the itching. So now that I've tried to explain the gist of what has been going on, I guess I am wondering how much of this is normal when a pack loses the alpha? Honestly the most lively they've been in the past month was at the island (NO. I am not getting a Chihuahua) They played, they Roo'd, they wanted to go on walks again, and they pottied on a somewhat normal schedule. Do I just let them create their own schedule? Do I make them stick to the one that Sammi enforced? They definitely love to sleep in. No longer am I ordered out of bed by a bossy Queen on weekends. We can get up, go to the bathroom, get some coffee and they'll just move from the bedroom to the living room and chill. Feed them. Finish coffee if I want. No longer is there a necessity to get outside right after eating. In fact, I think they dislike that idea tremendously. So I let them relax again after eating. Same for dinner. They're fed around a specific time only because of River's Incurin. But there is no trampling me to get to the door and outside to potty. I do not want to get into the habit of just letting them go potty on walks because on days where we can't have our walks, I don't want to run into issues with going potty (like the issue River has atm) So I still prefer them to associate the first time after a meal that they go out the door is potty time. After that, walkie time! Just not sure what to do here. It's been many many years since I didn't have to rush out the door for potty breaks that maybe I am the one that is lost without my Keeper of the Clocks, not Lynni & River.