April 26, 2018

Living With a Slightly Neurotic Dog

Our Bailey at 9 weeks old

For six years Bailey has been a very important part of our life. We bought her as an 8 week old pup from a kennel in Missouri. After a long search in the Phoenix area we could not find a cocker spaniel pup or cocker mix anywhere locally, at any price. Shipping a puppy in the belly of a plane would not have been our first choice, but was the only way.

Her travels to her new home might have been part of the reason she is a little off, a little different from other pets we have owned. Because of a flight delay and a missed connection, when the puppy arrived at the freight shipping office at Sky Harbor, she was a wreck. Her water bowl and tube were bone dry, her food dish overturned and empty.

As we lifted her from the shipping crate she was shaking uncontrollably.  She promptly drank the contents of a full water bottle and then part of another. She gobbled down some pet snacks as if she was starving. While I drove home, Betty sat in the back seat, holding her tightly to her chest.

She did adjust rather quickly to our home. There was a large backyard for exploring. She was affectionate and learned to use the doggie door almost immediately. Having 4 dogs before her, we are experienced pet owners. But, she has taught us a new level of patience with some of her unique personality traits.

For example, She refuses to eat her food out of a dog bowl. Early in her life, she was still so nervous that we had to hand feed her and then have the rest of her food on a plate. There was a level of trust we needed to establish before she would willfully begin to eat. "Priming her pump" with a few handfuls of food from us would be enough to get Bailey to eat.

Unfortunately, that habit has never gone away. Now, she will eat from a small salad plate, but not a dog bowl. She usually will not make a move to the food unless Betty starts her out with something from her hand. I can't do it, it must be Betty.

My son-in-law is not one to over-coddle dogs. Rightly so, he says she will eat, from a bowl, without hand feeding, when she is hungry enough. Early on, she went 3 days without eating because we tried that approach. Never again. I am sure she would eventually eat the food put before her, but we aren't willing to test that theory or put her through that trauma, so she gets her dinner on a small plate. 


Hiding from some imaginary threat
She remains a nervous animal. Training and even time with a dog shrink hasn't changed her tendency to shake. Almost every day we take her to a park for a good run and doing her doggie business. Just the 5 or 10 minutes in the car on the way to and from a park is spent in constant shaking. Even with Betty holding her tightly, she seems worried that we will abandon her by the side of the road! 

When we took her on RV trips, she would never lie down while the vehicle was in motion. Sometimes that meant 6 hours, sitting upright between us, shaking. Once we got to a campground she loved it. All the new smells and things to explore made her very happy; the to and from was just not her thing.


After a tough day on RV travel, Bailey was ready for a nap
I guess this is a sign of how much she loves us both, but Bailey will not take a walk around the neighborhood unless both Betty and I accompany her. Try as we might, unless one of us is holding her leash and the other a few "poop" bags, she won't walk farther than the front lawn. That does make things a little difficult when both of us aren't available. But, Bailey stands her ground. She will wait until our schedules permit dual walking.

Bailey is a barker when there anyone walking past the house, delivery trucks unload or the pool service man down the street gathers his supplies. As I am typing this, our next door neighbor is having a garage sale. Big time alert from Bailey!

For protection of our home, that is just fine. But, her nervousness carries it to a whole new level. Again, training has done little to dampen this habit. Either she runs out of steam and stops, or we give her a few shots from a spray water bottle to break her concentration. 

Even with all the problems or special traits, she is a very important part of our satisfying retirement. We can't imagine waking up without her happy wiggles and licks to our face, her joyous reaction when we come home from shopping, or her insistence to lie at my feet wherever in the house or backyard I might be.

Come to think of it, Betty and I have enough personality quirks to make Bailey seem quite normal ! But, that is a subject for another post........



30 comments:

  1. I’m amazed Bailey recovered as much as she did from her trauma as a lonely, dehydrated, terrified puppy. We rescued a little schnauzer who was shipped the same way, and never got over it, to less-understanding owners. She suffers like Bailey to this day. A good lesson for anyone who even considers that having an animal shipped like a package is a good idea.

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    1. After our experience one of our daughters who also wanted a cocker, flew to Missouri, met the breeder at the airport, and carried the puppy home on board. That dog does not have any of the traits of Bailey.

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  2. Loved your article on Bailey. She had a rough start, but fortunately landed in a home where she is well-loved and appreciated for all her quirks.

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    1. The trip could have ended very poorly for Bailey and us. Luckily, we got to her in time. Shipping animals by plane, especially with a connection, is risky business.

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  3. Cute! For whatever reason our dog (adopted from a shelter in 2006) will not eat out of a metal bowl. She only does ceramic. Go figure. She's also nervous in the car -- a sedative from our vet has helped a lot with that one. Enjoy your dog!

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    1. Bailey is partial to Corelware! We tried the sedatives but that seemed to increase her aggressiveness, so we stopped. She does get a pain pill a day for some hip issues, but that is it.

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  4. We have always had cats.Very easy! I didn't grow up with dogs so listening to the stories my neighbors and friends tell me about all that is involved with doggie companions takes my breath away! Next door neighbors just paid over $3000 in surgeries for their one dog who ate some socks! Neighbor down the street has a VERY elderly dog in diapers, the poor thing is in pain,can hardly walk, and owner cannot let go and do the right thing. Neighbor on other side has a dog who "nips" and barks (he BITES! not nips!!) We said we would not even have any more pets in retirement after our dear Gracie died, but after a year I got "lonely" for the patter of furry feet and we got Noah. I love him dearly but it is a consideration now.. when we go away I have to get a pet sitter and I worry over his safety, as he likes to roam. I think, especially with dogs, it's important in retirement to look at the responsibilities and expenses and try to do the right thing.Of course, emotions certainly take over! They did when I adopted Noah! But it is a life commitment. A dog is a lot more work and from what i see, the personality cannot be determined ahead of time. .so.. you have to be ready for what the commitment will mean. One retired friend cannot be gone for more than 3 hours at any time..and also must hand feed her dog. Also..how much traveling and entertaining one does also fits into the decision.I know it's a hard choice.. but retirement is a really different experience, takes so much thought and decision making!

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    1. We are lucky that when we go on a trip our youngest daughter comes to our house with her cocker and takes care of Bailey. We did find a kennel in Paradise Valley that is very good, but very pricey. So, we try to time our trips with our daughter's availability. Even so, 2 weeks it about the limit we feel comfortable being gone from her. During a typical day, she is fine for 6-7 hours alone.

      Keeping a pet alive even when it is in obvious pain is not right. Part of the responsibility of being a pet owner is knowing when it is time to let the pet go. Yes, it is hard, but the the humane thing to do.

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  5. Ah, Bailey is so cute. She's doing well after that voyage!

    Our dog is a rescue and has some really quirky habits. We got him at eight months, after he was found as a runaway. We think he may have been in a fire of some sort, as he gets really crazy over a smoke detector or any kind of alarm. He runs to the back door, pushes himself right up against it and signals frantically to go out, with his ears back and his eyes wide. We also noticed that if we fry anything (which is rare), he gets nervous because he knows that might set off the smoke detector. Other than that, he's a great dog. Well, he does tend to eat cigarette butts and other unsavory tidbits and he's never learned to walk well on a leash, but hey. Who knows what happened in that first year of life?

    He does add great energy to our lives and makes us laugh every day. That's worth a lot.

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    1. That is interesting about the smoke alarm reaction. You are probably quite right about the genesis of that phobia.

      Bailey is very good on a leash and obeys most commands except for the stop barking one when she is in alert mode.

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  6. Our neurotic pet is a cat we adopted off the street after it became apparent he had no home in which to go. Very loving to us, he is hysterical if anyone else comes to the house, or rings the doorbell. He hides under the bed for however long it takes for those "strangers" to get out of his house. We do still travel and I hire a friend to come over daily to feed him and clean his litter box while we are gone. He stays under the bed while she is here.

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    1. That reminds me of the time we tried leaving Bailey home when we went on a 4 day trip. Our next door neighbor came over to provide fresh food and water, but Bailey spent the entire time we were gone under a stairwell. She didn't eat until the 3rd day and growled when the neighbor crouched down to say hi to her.

      That was the last time we tried that route!

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  7. I LOVE the picture of Bailey sleeping! Our rescue dog has some quirks that I attribute to her abusive first home, many of which we've been able to overcome with training, but some not. We met her before we adopted her. I can't imagine getting a dog sight unseen and now I know to NEVER have one shipped either!

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    1. Betty spent weeks on line reading about the various breeders, talked at least half a dozen times with them, had pictures of the mother, father, and siblings. Even so, shipping an 8 week old puppy, by plane, thorough Dallas and then on to Phoenix was not good.

      If we get another dog after Bailey (how sad!) it will be a local rescue.

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  8. Dogs are funny. We discovered that having 2 is extremely helpful. After our first dog, an Old English Sheep dog, was from a breeder, we've gone with rescues ever since. The sheep dog was dumb as a stump and didn't live very long. After she passed our son brought home a puppy from his friends litter and we named him Benson. He was great. As Benson got older we got a Cockapoo from a shelter. They were great buds. Duffy was the bomb! He even wrote his own book! ;) But, once Benson passed Duffy needed a new friend. So we found a family who had to give up their Cockapoo because they were rarely home and he spent most of his time in a cage. That was Cosmo and he had issues. When Duffy passed Cosmo was heartbroken. We found out he had Cushings disease and started looking for a new pal for him. We found another Cockapoo and she's a story all her own! Dave had to fly to Vegas to get her. She was 2 1/2 when she came in and decided she owned the joint. She will be 13 next month and she still thinks she owns us! But, when Cosmo left we got Buddy. He's a puppy mill rescue and an amazing dog. A Cockapoo but, more poo than cocker. Our groomer says he's the handsomest dog she's ever known! I can't argue. But, the two of them together are the cutest couple. I can't imagine life without the pups!

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    1. It is good when we have both our dog and our daughter's cocker together for much of the year. After several years of sharing our home Bailey accepts Adler and seems to enjoy having her around. She still won't play with Adler but does sleep and nap with her. Progress!

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  9. I had to laugh as I read your blog today – our little Sammy has just as many quirks as Bailey – they are different than Bailey’s – but there none the less. Sammy needs one or the other of us to come out side with her. She loves to be in the yard to explore, but she needs company – she will go out and then stop and look back as if saying “well are you coming or not?” and if one of us doesn’t come out, she just comes back in.

    She much prefers people to other dogs – our daughter's little Yorkie is the exception, but they have been together all of Sammy’s life – and has certain neighbors who we see most every day on our walk who she LOVES!!!! If she sees them at a distance, I just let her leash go and she RUNS to them. But she is discriminating and some people she just ignores.

    Also, she doesn’t like it if hubby and I are out with her and one of us goes in a store – or the restroom at a rest stop. She will sit and cry and look back and forth from the door where one of us has disappeared to the one holding her leash as if to say “What the heck happened? Where did he/she go?”

    We have solved the riding in car problem by fixing a place in the cars where she can sit on the place between the front seats – it’s quite ingenious and uses pillows and towels to create a level area from the backseat to the front. She is very happy as long as she can be close!!!

    I think that we are truly Helicopter parents to Sammy, but she is so much a part of our life, I can’t imagine how we got along without her!!

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    1. I see a lot of Bailey in Sammy, and vice versa. Betty and I have rented a place in Prescott for a week at the end of June. Maybe the two can meet, though I'm pretty sure Bailey's reaction will be negative. I think she believes she is above being a dog!

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  10. Did you ever think maybe the breeder sent you a neurotic or "different" pup to get rid of her?

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  11. Bailey is absolutely adorable, Bob! I, too, love the photo of her sleeping in your RV. Family members (human and otherwise) are loved despite their quirks. Bailey is fortunate to have landed in such a caring home. Good for you and Betty - and, especially, for Bailey.

    When my husband and I were young newlyweds, we had two dogs - Kate (a Siberian Husky) and Wrangler (a German Shepherd/Siberian Husky mix). Wrangler ate; Kate dined. She would lie in front of her food bowl and pick out one piece of kibble at time, drop it on the floor, inspect it and then eat it. Wrangler would finish his meal and gaze longingly at her bowl, but he knew better than to help her finish it. Wrangler went boating with the family; Kate went yachting with her crew. Wrangler could be found leaning on my husband's leg, just barely tolerating the adventure because he simply wanted to be with us. Kate would lie in the open bow at the very front of the boat and look out over her Queendom. I guess our individual personalities shine through whether we're human or not.

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    1. Personalities are present in all species, I guess. Bailey knows enough words that if we aren't ready to take her to the park, we have to spell the word. Also, the word, nap, must be spelled unless it is time for one. She knows her revered place in the family and is sure to maintain it!

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  12. Oh my goodness so interesting to read about your Bailey! I am one year into our retirement and rather on impulse decided to adopt a goldendoodle, Oscar, who is now 9 months old. I had been thinking of adopting one for some time but didn't feel it would be fair to have DH and I working FT with such a high energy breed.
    Long story short, our puppy is a bundle of joy albeit very rambunctious. I have a difficult time walking him ( walk him twice a day for at least 1/2 hr) because he wants to jump at everyone and everything ! As you can imagine, this is a major problem. Oscar is a puller and jumper and regardless of training, he will not stop. He is also a cuddler and very affectionate but has some traits that make me wonder what happened to him in the puppy mill we inadvertently purchase him from. For example, when I let him into the yard to do his business, he will not go unless either DH or I accompany him, he loves riding in the truck with us but has to be between DH and I, he is very demanding of time and attention. I could go on and on. Glad Bailey found you both, he sounds like a dear little pup.

    Teri

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    1. My daughter's family got a goldendoodle from the animal shelter about 5 months ago. He never stops leaping and bounding around. He is over 1 year old but still is in serious puppy mode. Training so far has been a limited success!

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  13. Like kids, you hope for the best, take what you get, and love them no matter what.

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  14. Despite her quirks, Bailey looks like such a sweet little dog. She is fortunate to have loving owners.

    My dog Sophie (mid-sized terrier cross) was a rescue dog. When we got her, she was afraid of sudden movements or noises, and shook with fear when we tried to bring her into the house. She was terrified of men and most dogs, and could chew through anything and escape from any fence. Over time she came to trust us, and got over most of her fears. She wasn’t afraid of Rob, and a couple of other close male friends, but remained fearful of other men. She was the most loving, loyal dog, and I miss her still.

    Jude

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  15. What a precious dog. You give her so much love and care. You are the perfect family for her. Diane

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  16. You could be talking about our rescue dog "Buddy" - Got him when he was nine - he is a Jackapoo (Jack Russell - poodle mix) He seems to have a lot of the same quirks as Bailey - he will not eat out of a bowl - we have to prime him to get him to eat - he is the most lovable little guy - he is now 12 years old - and we totally accept all his quirks - we were his fourth home - we have very little info about his history - he loves us and has grown close to us and we love him just as he is. Mary Ellen

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    1. The unconditional love and joy dogs give us, make putting up with little annoyances worth it. My best to Buddy.

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