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Help! My dog is depressed and I need Prozac!

April 12, 2010 - Amy Jo Hanna

I’m sorry. I have to apologize. I’ve broken the cardinal blogger bible code by not posting frequently the past few months. But, I’d like to share what’s been keeping me away from writing about what I love.

Even though I’ve been adopting senior Goldens for several years now and know that each time I adopt that I’m only going to have them for a short time before their health or age takes them from me, I’ve always been strong at handling the fact. That’s why I chose to take on the responsibility of adopting hard to place seniors. Our time together is short, but I know that often, they are coming from a past that is less than pleasant. As I tell people, ‘if I can give them the best last years of their lives then I am okay knowing I will have them a short time’.

That was until a combination of recent events. I lost my senior Jesse girl in January 2008. Jesse was that one special pal that forever leaves paw prints on your heart no matter how many beautiful souls you are blessed to rescue during a lifetime. Then in May 2008, almost as if Jesse sensed I needed a new focus, Eli, my miracle kitty, was literally handed to me off the streets. Near death from FeLV/FIV, the emergency vet wanted to put him to sleep immediately. I had never had a cat in my life but I knew neither Eli nor I were quite ready to give up that easily. I immediately had Eli examined by my family vet who made it clear that we could “give it a chance” but that a cat cursed with both deadly viruses could have 3 weeks to 3 months to 3 years to a full life if found to be a carrier and remained relatively healthy otherwise.  It was unknown to us all but we were determined to take the chance on our precious boy. After neutering, having 32 rotten teeth (from the disease) extracted and de-worming (the most I have ever seen) – I nursed my four pound weakling into a healthy appearing 14 pound boy who went on to enjoy a full year and a half with me. Finally in late December 2009, he came down with an illness his already weakened immune system simply could not fight and I had to put my precious boy to sleep a few days before New Years.  It didn’t seem to be enough knowing I nursed him back to enjoy a few quality years of a life of a prince. It was that I was not able to save him from two incurable, nasty diseases that he should have never even been exposed to. There is a vaccine for FeLV. There is no cure yet for FIV.

Needless to say, one month later, (1/25/10) “Bo”, my little wild and crazy stray saw me at the local humane society and adopted me immediately.

Mazey, my matriarch Golden rescue girl, had survived Jesse, Eli and Bo. Her life – before coming to me -- had been one of the toughest having been tossed in and out of high kill shelters and finally the rescue where we were brought together four years ago. Our road was a long one but she took to life indoors immediately. Her social skills never fully developed however and she sadly never learned to play with toys. Heaven to her was a soft bed, quiet, naps, food, water and treats and a nightly massage.  Mazey’s old hips – like Jesse's and so many big dogs -- finally gave out after years of deterioration and arthritis.  When the pain would no longer allow her to stand or take a few steps without falling last week I had to give my sweet girl the two things I could -- dignity and peace.

There is a huge void without Jesse, Eli and Mazey and there always will be, just as there is a void left by my Keetie and Candy (former Golden sweethearts). But, I also know there are so many animals in need that the longer I wait to recover from my loss the shorter their chances are of finding a loving home.

That brings us to present.

I was going to tell you about “Blog Paws 2010” - the absolutely incredible, first-ever conference I attended for pet bloggers this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio. However, I can’t do that for a day or so. Why? Because of Oakley.

Oakley is the 2-year-old Golden Retriever who was in dire need of a home because he was no longer of use to a local breeder. He spent his entire life in a cement kennel waiting to grow into a breeding machine. When the breeder recently realized he was “too big” to breed with her smaller females (they could produce puppies too large for the females to safely deliver) he became “no longer needed”. The breeder had the foresight to look after the safety of her females and to also have Oakley neutered. Unfortunately Oakley was no longer going to be helping to produce any money and needed ‘to go’. I knew I would always have a house full of rescue dogs. (I couldn’t imagine my life without them) but I just never thought I could commit to taking on a kenneled dog that was never house-trained.

It’s going to be a long, trying process. Oakley has never known human love. His only interaction has been that of his kennel-mates. He was never in a house. Steps were foreign to him as was/is attention. And, he is not housebroken. He is extremely confused with his new surroundings and appears to look just like a completely depressed person does. He cowers at my every uncertain move or when approached -- just his way of deflecting what appears to him to be human aggression, but none-the-less so sad to see. Despite his incredibly enormous size, his demeanor is as gentle as he is huge.

We have a lot of work ahead of us. Time is key and we’ll need a lot of it.

I will keep you posted on our daily-weekly progress and invite you to tell me your stories and successful tips for housebreaking and introducing an unsocialized dog into your family pack.

From this point in the road I cannot see the bright light but I know it will be there when we reach the peak. There is an incredibly wonderful dog inside that mass of red fur. The end result will be more than worth the work cut out for both of us. Wish us luck.


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