Monday, November 4, 2013

Separation Anxiety Relapse

Now that we are home, we really need to get back to our usual routines, and one of the huge obstacles to that is Desmond's separation anxiety, which has returned with a vengeance. I can only imagine how the poor guy feels. 

He was ripped from his home; brought all over the place for a month while we figured out where we were going to live; then spent 10 months getting acclimated to his new, temporary home; and now we're back in our house--which looks and smells nothing like it used to. Meanwhile, during the displacement, Desmond was pretty much never alone (we did try to leave him in my parents' apartment, but he right away starting tearing things up, so we had no choice but to stop that). So now he has to readjust to a new place and the concept of being alone at the same time. 

Desmond is still on his medication, and we have reintroduced both the D.A.P. diffuser and Composure chews to the mix, as well as some lovely solo piano music, courtesy of Pandora. Ultimately, we cannot leave him in the crate. We are simply gone for too many hours when we both are working in the office. And for Desmond, the act of leaving is far worse than actually being alone; so a mid-day dog walker would do nothing but stir him up all over again (plus, we really just don't want some random person in our house). 

Put those together, and we have decided to try leaving him in the den (which used to be our master bedroom) instead of in the living room/dining room/kitchen (where he used to be left), which is just too freakin nice to risk destroying. This dog destroying the main part of the house is all that's standing between me and clinical depression.

We spend pretty much all of our time in the den, and it's where I work when I work from home. Our TV is there; it's where we chill on the couch; it's where we eat (yes, we are those people who eat in front of the TV on the couch--I'd be ashamed if I didn't know you're secretly super jealous). 

Desmond's bed and his crate are also in there. We leave the crate open, so he can do what he wants with it. He's allowed on all the furniture. Our glamorous temporary blinds are up so he can't destroy those, and we put one of those self-adhesive privacy sheets on the windows (he gets plenty of light but can't see squirrels or cats in the yard or the people and dogs in the park). There's no reason he should be unhappy in there, other than the lack of our presence. 

But apparently none of this matters to him, because he's already destroyed the door and the molding. In fact, he ripped off the door guard we had up and then went to town on the door and molding. 

Now, let me ask you this: what the French is that door guard supposed to actually do if it can be ripped up and torn off so easily? What is this protecting? Which dogs is this stopping? 

To be clear, we didn't just peace out and see what would happen. We did the usual desensitizing process. We spent a week where we each got up every day at the eventual regular time and went through as regular a morning routine as possible--both getting fully ready for work, even though I was staying in the house. 

After that, we spent a day where we both got completely ready and then left him in the den, walked out the door, and came right back in, repeating that process over and over with slightly longer intervals of staying out of the house. We got up to almost a half hour, and everything was fine. I was feeling extremely relieved and hopeful, because I've been dreading this.

I mean, he was barking, crying, howling. He was definitely upset. But he didn't trash anything.

The next day we did it again, and for whatever reason, that's when he messed up the door and apparently ran all over the room, because we found evidence of minor disturbances. He actually managed to turn a lamp on--it's a touch lamp, but still. That's almost impressive.

Obviously, I'm distraught and disheartened. Look at our brand new door and molding, after Desmond's first attempt to get out:

What I found when I first opened the door 
Partially ripped off door guard 

We need to keep this dog from getting out of the den for the safety of the house and himself. So... Joey went and got plexiglass custom cut to protect the door and the molding. And then he screwed it into the door and rigged the side with velcro to help keep Desmond from pulling it off the molding.

I wish I had pix of this, because it was pretty serious looking. Alas, I do not have great ones--and the ones I do have I can't quite share here just yet (more on that soon enough). But it's a moot point, because guess who tore off the plexiglass? That's right. Hulk dog. But he only pulled off the part over the molding. He managed to snap it off, leaving really pointy shards sticking out from the door, but generally not harming the plexiglass over the door too much. Thank goodness he didn't hurt himself.

So we sanded it all down with the Dremel and then put tape all over everything to make it as safe as possible. We are desperate, what can I say. For the molding, Joey put a spare piece of door guard up over it and taped it down and screwed that all in as well. 

Check it. Super classy, right?

We'll try leaving him again over the next few days, but I really don't know what we're going to do if things don't change for the better, because--plain and simple--I have to go back to work in the office next week. He's going to be alone for the whole day, and there's not much we can do about it. 

We are going to try the Thundershirt again, plus we ran out and bought some more vitamin B, which once helped us here. Other options include increasing his meds, but I'm not sure that would even work. He seems to be able to pull energy from the universe to accomplish these things. And drugging him up doesn't solve the real problem anyway. 

The first time around, this took about 8 months to really go away. I want to jump out a window when I think about doing this for another 8 months. If things don't get any better in another couple weeks, I will probably have to call on my mentor trainer for help. Perhaps I am missing something. In the meantime, cross your fingers.

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