It all started over a month ago when I met with a client, the client's two dogs, and one of her two roommates. One of the dogs was a Maltese named Devi, and the other a tiny Yorkie named Tara.
After the two dogs talked about what they wanted and needed, my client asked me to explain to them that the three roommates would each be moving to different homes soon. That meant the dogs wouldn't be seeing them any more. Because the two roommates had always cared for the dogs during the day while my client was at work, she knew the dogs would very much miss their companionship, which they had grown used to for so long.
For a while, it became a sad back and forth conversation among Devi, Tara, my client, and her roommate.
Devi, the Maltese, had grown so close to the roommate who was present at the consultation, that she wanted very much to go with her. But the roommate wasn't convinced she could care for a dog. She was moving to Ohio to care for her parents, and having a dog would give her even more responsibilities that she wasn't sure she was prepared to take on. Then a week later, I received an e-mail telling me that the roommate had changed her mind, and Devi would be leaving soon to join her in Ohio.
But . . . the tiny Yorkie, Tara, told us during the consultation that she didn't want to go with anyone. She was used to the comfort of her present home environment and she didn't want to leave at all. Because I'm empathic, I could actually feel what Tara was feeling, as well as knowing what she was telling me. I then tried as accurately as I could to convey both Tara's thoughts and
feelings to my client, who began to wonder what would be the best thing to do for her tiny pet.
As cute as she is, this tiny 5-pound Yorkie is not the most adoptable dog. She's already a little over 12 years old. She's deaf, has cataracts in both eyes, and has such severe allergies that she has to wear a T-shirt so she won't pick up something from her environment that would send her into a scratching frenzy. She has also had spinal surgery and knee surgery, so she had to be given multiple medications, some twice a day, including an anti-anxiety medication . . . think doggy Prozac.
On top of all that, Tara had an unpleasant habit. Even though she would be walked twice a day, and taken out every two hours or so, she would still come into the house and pee on the rug.
All this would be very challenging for anyone, so she was not a dog for whom it would be easy to find a new home.
I felt so bad for this little one that before the consultation was over, I offered my client a possible option. I told her I would contact another of my clients to see if she would be willing to adopt Tara. That client is someone who often adopts senior dogs and those who are sick.
When Tara's mom and I talked by phone, I had to tell her that my rescuing client could not take in another dog at the present time because of her own circumstances . . . but . . . I also told her that I would be willing to take care of Tara for a week, just on an experimental basis, to see if she would fit in with my family. I already have two dogs and one big cat, plus peacocks who roam freely around the yard during the day. That kind of environment can be a challenge for some dogs, but I was willing to give Tara a try.
Happily, as it turns out, she fits right in and gets along so well with everyone that she's become the newest member of our family. The other dogs accept her, even when she's having one of her anxiety attacks. The cat, who is about three times her size, towers over her, but they just sniff each other and then go their separate ways. And very importantly, she doesn't chase the peacocks around the yard.
The first challenge was to train her to use the doggy door in order to give her more independence, as well as training her to go pee and poo outside every time.
I'm very consistent with training routines, so from the first day, I communicated to Tara that she needed to do her business only outside, and I took her out every two hours. She would hold her business for as long as she could, going only about once every 6 hours . . . BUT . . . she did go only outside. For the moment, the first major challenge had been overcome.
I'm now delighted to say that she's using the doggy door, even on her own. She'll go outside, do her business, and come back in all by herself. In the several weeks she's been with us, she's never once done her business in the house. Good girl, Tara!
The second challenge was sleeping at night. The first few days she slept quietly, but on the fourth night she "complained" throughout most of the night. I soon discovered that she has very vivid dreams, and her "complaints" were actually dreaming sounds.
She does wake us up around 5:00 a.m., however, because she's just tired of being in her kennel and wants to be with us. So what do we do . . . the most logical thing, of course! We bring her up on the bed with us where she goes right back to sleep until we're ready to get up!
The third challenge was her anxiety. She is so anxious that she has to be able to see a human the whole time, and I do mean the whole time. I can't move from my office for even a minute, because she comes looking for me, even though, when I left the office, she was fast asleep.
Because she is deaf, I can't just tell her something. She has to actually SEE me. If she doesn't, she'll start howling and barking and scratching at the last known door where I might have disappeared before. Once she sees me again, then she relaxes, many times falling asleep within 30 seconds.
My husband and I try to take turns going out so that at least she can see and follow one of us around at all times until the other one returns. But going out to dinner together is a challenge. Last time we went out, I recorded her. She barked and howled every 3-4 minutes for the entire hour and a half we were gone, even though she had the company of 2 other dogs. We're hoping, though, that she'll adjust over time.
But . . . aside from her separation anxiety . . . she is a perfect little dog. Although she is set in her ways, she has a whole lot of personality and attitude, and I am in love with this little girl!
One day, I was joking with my husband that I now have a new title. I have become a "Service Human" for Tara. Just as a "Service Dog" provides comfort and companionship for a person, I now provide that kind of comfort and companionship for this precious dog. To go along with my new title of "Service Human," I think I need a service human vest. Anybody know where to get one?