As I shared yesterday, Petey had to have a minor procedure done on Monday. I haven’t really said much about him since he’s returned to me, at the risk of sharing too much and turning off potential adopters. However, as I’ve said before, full disclosure is important. A potential adopter MUST know about Petey’s issues, otherwise he will just end up being returned. Again. And Lord knows that is the last thing Petey needs! So, here is what has been going on.
Since Petey returned to me, I have been working on crate training. With his last adopter, he ruined two crates (metal, and transporter). Before he left me though, he was successfully crate trained. Meaning, I could leave him in a crate, and he wouldn’t try to escape, remaining safe and crated until I returned home. Obviously this was no longer the case. So, I started out slow. I moved his crate to the kitchen, where I work, and where Oscar & Lucy both stay when I leave. I put Petey in his crate for very short periods of time, while I was just a few feet away at my desk. Sometimes leaving the door open, other times locking him in.
He seemed to be doing ok, not thrilled about it, but not having major anxiety or panic attacks. Although I do work from home, and I am home a lot, I DO actually have to leave the house from time to time! For the first several days that Petey was back, I tried to limit my trips out of the house. If possible, I took him with me. Otherwise, I made sure I was not gone for longer than an hour at a time. Unfortunately Petey is not food/treat motivated, so he could care less about treats or Kongs. In fact, if you give him a treat when he knows you are leaving, he will refuse to eat it! He is also not interested in toys. So, this means when he is left, he is just there, focused on the fact that he’s been left. I am certain that this only makes his anxiety worse.
Now, while working on the crate training, these daily storms that we’ve been having, started. Petey is terrified of thunder. The second he hears it, he starts shaking like a leaf, panting heavily, and pacing. He also starts shaking as soon as it starts to rain, but the thunder brings out the full blown panic attack. If I am here, Petey follows me around, sits at my feet, and won’t leave my side. This behavior still occurs after his thunder coat is on, rescue remedy has been given, as well as the daily prescribed anti-anxiety med he takes. So, when I could hear a storm coming, I would put Petey in his kennel, again with me just a few feet away. The goal was to teach him that the crate is his safe place. During the storm, he would whine a bit, and pant, but finally after seeing that I was ignoring the behavior and wasn’t letting him out of the crate, he’d lay down and go to sleep. Goal accomplished! This is what SHOULD happen. He should be able to relax & sleep in the crate, during a storm. I was feeling good about his progress!
Then came the day that I had to leave for the kid’s school orientation. I knew we’d be gone for a couple of hours, and of course, a storm was supposed to be coming. (Seriously Mother Nature, can we get a break here?!) So, I loaded Petey up with every tool we had. The thunder shirt. Rescue Remedy. Daily anti-anxiety med. And a Xanax, prescribed by the vet for when a potential severe panic attack may occur. I put Petey in his crate, Oscar in his crate, and Lucy in the kitchen with them, with the baby gate up. I also left the TV on. We were gone for about an hour & a half, and this is what I came home to:
Petey was actually still in the crate, with a complete look of stress and panic on his face, and blood was every where. It took me about five minutes to even get him out of the crate, since it was so bent up that I couldn’t open the door. I looked him over to find where the blood had come from, and found it was his paws. Both dew claws were bleeding. That seemed to be all of the physical damage he’d done to himself. After tending to him, and checking my dogs out to be sure his panicking hadn’t stressed them out, I started to clean up. There was blood all over the floor around the crate, and pieces of metal and plastic to be swept up.
Since then, I’ve kept an eye on his paws. They definitely seemed bruised, and he wouldn’t leave his claws alone, which was not allowing them to heal. Lucy has actually injured a dew claw before, so I knew they could heal on their own, if left alone. I wrapped Petey’s paws, and kept them clean, but they just didn’t seem to be getting better. So, after a few days, we took him to the vet. The vet decided to remove both dew claws since they were so badly injured.
Since this incident, I obviously no longer put him in a crate. Although I don’t want anything in my house to be destroyed by him (which he has done previously at my house & his last adopter’s house), my biggest priority is his safety. Now I just baby gate him in the kitchen. Sometimes he figures out how to move it, and he’s waiting at the door, barking. Other times he stays in the kitchen with Lucy and Oscar.
I am sad for him that he gets in these panic frenzies. Maybe the medications help him a little, but clearly they don’t completely fix the situation. I just don’t know what else to do for him, and I’m not sure that the right adopter will ever come around. Ideally, he needs a person that is home ALL the time. Someone that only leaves for quick errands, or when they aren’t at home, they can take him with them. Having another dog probably helps too, as long as it is a confident dog like mine, who don’t have any fear or anxiety issues. For anyone that is ever interested, I vow to be brutally honest, because the last thing Petey needs is to be adopted and returned again. I hope for him that a forever family will show up, and that my home can be opened up for a new dog in need. Until then, he will be a part of our family, and will remain my perma-foster as long as he needs to be.