Were you to have recorded my worst moments two weeks ago, you’d surely need no additional evidence to determine that I suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, manifesting itself in extreme panic attacks and severe fits of rage. It was rough week, and while I plead guilty to the symptoms, if not the diagnosis (yet), it just goes to how hard it can be during times of stress to see the finish line and put things into perspective.
My family adopted a pooch two weeks ago – a four-year-old beagle recovering from hip surgery who suffers from her own anxiety issues and is prone to pee in the house – and within a short twenty-four hours of our adoption I was unable to see how this experiment would result in anything other than me packing up and leaving the family, since I know that my wife would never willingly spurn the devotion of a pooch, no matter how much pee she empties onto our carpets. (And just last night – our couch!)
I panicked. My wife and I argued. She calmed me down. And just when I thought, okay, maybe this will all work out, Piper, our sweet loving pooch who was clearly treated poorly for much of her life, would look at me, plop down on her back, and pee all over the floor, leading me to get amped up all over again until Alice tranquilized me with reason. This was hard for her to do in person, but especially difficult to do over the phone, juggling normal work-day stresses along with her insane husband yelling while he mopped up pee for the fourth time that day.
And it wasn’t just the pee. During that first week, Piper suffered from diarrhea (and anxiously deposited one bout onto our living room floor), wouldn’t eat dry food, wouldn’t pee outside, making it impossible to reinforce good behavior, and even if she had peed, she wouldn’t eat any of the treats we offered. (After a few days we resorted to giving her pieces of boiled chicken). Add to this that she was still getting over hip surgery, so she was unable to walk any distance and we had to initially carry her up and down stairs. It was all too much.
And then Monday night happened.
I had travelled to Louisville for a day to visit my daughter and get away for a while, and upon returning home came back to the same poor pooch, who immediately peed upon leaving her crate after my son had accidentally slept in too long. I called Alice yet again on the phone and told her how this wasn’t going to work out. (I’d like to say that were my exact words. Not quite.)
And then that night Piper ate dry food. Gobbled it, devoured it. And then while on a walk she peed – on the GRASS – and when I offered her a basic store-bought treat to reward her, she ate it. Gobbled it, devoured it. Upon returning home she sprinted up the stairs, played with a sock that we’d tied into a knot several days earlier, and acted, well…like a dog.
Piper has had a few setbacks since then – she peed on the carpet after refusing to climb down the stairs for some reason, and last night she peed on the couch, but the majority of her issues fixed themselves so quickly that now all we’re left with is a really good pooch who has a few issues on occasion. I wish I could same for her owners! Piper still is a little jumpy, and we may have some difficulty when it comes to leaving her to go on vacation, but I feel like these are challenges we can face. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t see any light on the horizon, and all it took was one day before I started to panic. Woe to my family if I ever have to face real stress for actual weeks or months.
I feel lucky and grateful. Lucky that my wife forced me to hang in there just a little bit longer, and grateful that Piper is currently sitting by my side on our backroom couch. And I hope she knows that she’ll never face another difficult day for as long as she lives. Those days are over. For your remaining years, dear Piper, all that’s expected of you now is to rest, eat, play, cuddle and act happy when we walk in the door.
And to pee outside. That’s it.