Monday, September 17, 2012

Chopper: One Heck of A Dignified Doggy Gentleman

Mommy left me in the car while she ran an errand. It took no time at all before four-year old me began to panic. I thought something happened to mommy and I cried. Should I get out of the car and look for her? It was a big street, and I didn't want to cross it by myself. My gaze was glued to the door of the store, and FINALLY she appeared. Lost in the grocery store, at the fair, add your own 'abandoned' event here. Whatever and wherever it was, it was scary!

Enter Chopper. 
Chopper, an Australian Shepherd/Chow mix, was brought to the shelter as a stray, and because no one came looking for him, we have to figure that he was abandoned. Most dogs adjust to this, but Chopper isn't most dogs. He's a ten-year old gentleman, who has manners, and dignity, and expects the person in his life to be there for him. When his person didn't appear, he got scared. (Remember your own lost-in-the-grocery-store scare, and you'll know how he feels.)

So after Chopper was adopted into a wonderful home, and the family left him to run errands, he became terrified, and tried to escape to find them. It's called separation anxiety. 

Separation anxiety symptoms run from mild to severe and can become a full-on panic attack. Some early signs include:
  • following you from room to room, pacing (when he sees you preparing to leave)
  • salivating
  • howling
  • barking
  • whining
There are things you can do on your own to help with a mild to moderate case of separation anxiety. Here are a few from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary's Sherry Woodard.

"If you have been told that your dog has mild to moderate separation anxiety, there are some strategies you can try to break the cycle of escalating anxiety. First, practice leaving without opening the door. Put on your shoes, pick up your keys, and walk to the door, but don’t leave. You may need to do this 10 times per day for weeks or months to quell your dog’s anxiety.

Another strategy is to walk into closets and close the door behind you. Wait one minute and then reappear. You can also exit via an outside door that you normally don’t leave through. Wait one minute and then walk back in. If your dog doesn’t appear anxious, try two minutes and add time if the dog continues to be comfortable with it. Back off on your time, however, if the dog becomes stressed.

Once your dog is comfortable with you leaving through the back door, you can start working on walking out the main door and returning after a short period of time. Again, gradually increase the time according to how your dog handles it. Practice as many absences as possible that last less than 10 minutes." (continue reading article)
Back to Chopper:
Chopper came back to Sammie's Friends and he may just need someone who will be home with him and who can take him wherever they go. With some work, though, he might be able to recover from this fear of abandonment. He's great on a leash. Will just sit in the room, relaxed and happy as can be. Loves to be with other dogs, kids, even cats. You would never know from his calm and dignified demeanor that he needs help recovering from abandonment. Won't you consider meeting him?

Chopper is neutered, up-to-date on all his shots, and house trained.
Sammie's Friends Animal Shelter14647 McCourtney Rd., Grass Valley, CA 530-471-5041

For more information about separation anxiety in dogs, talk with your veterinarian, and find a behaviorist you trust.

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