July? Seriously? That’s the last time I posted?
Okay, let’s go. Time to provide updates. Rather than do one huge, long post, I’ll break it down and post individual updates over the next week or so. Surely I can manage that much?
Let’s start with Dobby the Dog. He is no longer Icey. We changed his name to Dobby when we realized he looks just like Dobby the Elf from “Harry Potter.” Want proof?
Told ya. So now he’s Dobby. Soon after my original post about him in June we realized that he was going to be very high maintenance. His separation anxiety was very disconcerting – he wasn’t a lapdog so much as in need of constant affirmation and physical touch. I couldn’t sit down without him jumping up next to me on the sofa and refusing to take no for an answer, to the point of scratch my face in protest if I stopped petting him. One day we crated him and while we were at work he started chewing his way out of the crate. Literally. A giant hole in the side of the crate. He then had diarrhea for 3-4 days straight and lived in a constant state of panic. I’d let him outside for 20-30 minutes and then within a minute of coming inside he’d be squatting to do his business. It was infuriating. By the fourth day I had had it. I contacted the rescue group and told him that he was not the dog for us, and that he needed someone who worked from home or was a stay-at-home parent who could work on the separation anxiety that was so overwhelming for this poor dog.
That weekend I drove to the pet store to surrender him. The minute I walked inside I burst into tears. It hadn’t taken me long, but despite all his issues I had already come to really love that dog. I handed him over to a volunteer to watch while I filled out the paperwork to give him back. When I was done I turned around and Dobby was just STARING at me, with these eyes that said, “I’m so sorry – I’ll be better, I promise.” The volunteer said, “This dog has not looked away from you the entire time you were filling out paperwork. Even when people came up to pet him, he wouldn’t look away from you. He has clearly bonded with you, and you,” gesturing at my tear-soaked face, “have clearly bonded to him. Are you SURE you want to surrender him?”
Needless to say I brought him home. I had to.
I’m happy to report that since our Possible Surrender Situation he has been a lot better. We instituted some practices that have helped. Rather than crating him, we tether him inside the house. He has a 10-foot steel lead that allows him to move all around the TV room where his bed and toys are. We also keep a bowl of water within leash distance. We make sure nothing is within reach that he can chew on (we learned the hard way when we came home to find our Roku remote chewed up – we had left it on the coffee table thinking it would be fine). For the past 2+ months he has had no accidents during the day and all has been well.
We also tether him at night because there were a few times he’d sneak downstairs and poop in the dining room. So now (for the most part) we tether him to a 6 foot lead in our bedroom so that he can lay on his bed, get water, or even sleep on the floor next to his bed, should he choose. Occasionally I do not tether him and he stays on his bed most of the night. But until I am 100% confident that he’s housetrained completely, we’ll continue to tether him most nights.
As for his separation anxiety, it seems that the Possible Surrender Situation made him realize he needed to shape up or ship out. He still prefers to be pet versus not. And he still occasionally tries to paw my face if I don’t pet him. But the behavior has significantly lessened. He’s now content to lay on the sofa next to you once you make it plain that you are done petting him. He doesn’t follow me all around the house (for a while if I even got up from a chair he was standing at attention wondering where “we” were going to go next).
One troubling incident took place a couple weeks ago – it basically confirmed that he comes from an abused background. Denis was getting his clothes out to get dressed for work on morning and realized he forgot a belt. Dobby was in the bedroom laying on the floor. Denis came back into the room, belt in hand, and Dobby went running from the room in panic. Now, Denis lays out his clothes every morning – nothing new. Never bothered Dobby. But it was when Denis walked into the room with only a belt in his hand that Dobby freaked out. We already knew he was nervous around men in general (it took a long time for Dobby not to cower around Denis all the time), but the fear of the belt sealed it for us. That poor dog has definitely got a rough background.
He still has some growing up to do – he has tried to nip at a couple people here and there – one of CootieBoy’s friends as he ran by, and a contractor who got too close. But I’m convinced with time he’ll settle down to the point where he doesn’t get nervous around men, or children he doesn’t know who run past him. For now, we put him outside when we know people are coming over, or we tether him to his bed upstairs. I know as he gets older he’ll settle down and calm down.
But I think he’s a great dog and am happy I stuck with him and the decision to give him a better life than he’s had thus far.