I am such a happy/ proud dog mom today. Some of you already know that Ruger has extreme separation anxiety. When we first got him, he destroyed any crate he was in and made a mess of Brian’s apartment once he got out. So then we had to tie him outside whenever we’d leave and although he had food, water, and shelter, we still felt really bad. Fast forward to when we all moved in with my parents and their two dogs and we decided to try crate training him again over the summer before the move to AZ. We had an old cell phone set up with a camera app that we could watch him from our phones with. Little by little all was going well. Eventually we could leave him for a full 8 to 10 hours with no accidents or episodes.
Finally, when the time came to move to Arizona, we packed up his crate and drove for 3 days. Once here, we realized he had relapsed and his anxiety was back in full force. We left him in his crate while we went to get groceries and house supplies and came back to a bent crate and a dog with 3 chipped teeth. Of course we couldn’t bear to give him up. After all, it wasn’t his fault we moved across the country to a new place with no other dogs to keep him company. We also couldn’t get a companion for him because we ran the risk of it not helping and having another animal to care for. Finally, after months of not being able to leave the apartment together without the dog we decided to pay for dog sitters. People who we would drop him off with for work or while we went to get dinner or pretty much anything we needed to do that wasn’t dog friendly. That was our new normal. Budgeting to cover the cost as if it was childcare, planning days ahead to make sure we’d have someone to watch him. It wasn’t awful. I knew he was safe and we made some amazing friends because of it.
It’s been almost a year of this. When school ended, I decided to use my summer to try to help Ruger overcome/ manage his anxiety. The whole reason I thought it would be possible came to us when we were enjoying an evening on the patio and decided to leave Ruger inside. Normally he would sit at the window where he could see us and cry. However, this time he watched us sitting there for a moment and then walked away to get on the couch and sleep. I’m assuming it has to do with him being almost 3 years old and having been here for a year it is feeling more like home to him. So my plan was to go to the complex pool every few days more and more until he felt comfortable. That way I could watch him on the camera and run home quickly if he started destroying anything or barking uncontrollably. The only hitch in my plan is that the pool won’t be open for a few more weeks, ugh.
Anyway, today we decide to use the apartment laundry facilities as a way to get out of the house to test him. He was a bit whiny at first, but eventually calmed down. We could see him on the camera, sitting on the couch staring out the window waiting. After we put the laundry in we decided to make a McDonald’s and bank run. The entire time checking the camera to make sure he hadn’t lost it. In total, we were gone for about an hour and a half today and he was quiet and calm the entire time.
If you’ve made it this far in the blog, I ask that you just keep Ruger (and us) in your thoughts as we spend the summer trying to overcome his anxiety. If you read the whole thing and think we’re crazy… Well, you’re right. We are crazy in love with our dog and I see nothing wrong with that 👋