Monday, 7 January 2013

Separation Anxiety and the New Term



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Hayate has struggled with severe separation anxiety for most of his life. Before getting a dog I thought separation anxiety just meant being stressed about being alone; when I began looking for help for Hayate I read about dogs so frantic to find their person that they threw themselves off fourth story balconies or burst through glass doors. Anxiety is an understatement; it’s more like a panic attack that last all day. In our old apartment Hayate destroyed the walls and doors of his room trying to chew and dig his way out. We left a microphone recording during the day so we could see how he’d been and the result was pitiful: eight hours of crying, whining and howling. Eventually we decided to risk letting both dogs lose together in the apartment, and Hayate calmed down. Then we put him through a horrible August. We moved house, and the day after we moved the Mr went to Tokyo for driving school and was gone close to a month. Hayate plunged back into distress, but he bounced back quickly. As I mentioned in a previous post, he devised his own strategy for coping and now runs upstairs and hides on the bed when he sees me heading to the door. Given how many humans haven’t mastered to art of removing themselves from emotionally challenging situations, I’m incredibly proud of him.
Today we went back to work after a two week vacation during which we barely left the house. The dogs spent their days contentedly moving from sun spot to sun spot and snoring.

The dogs knew what was happening this morning (they recognise that on days the alarm goes off we go to work), and they took it well. I fear that by Friday they won’t be as calm though. Last term Hayate tried every day to keep me at home, licking my hand, circling around my legs and fetching toys and giving them to me hopefully, as though I couldn’t possibly leave if I just realised how awesomely fun wriggly snake was. It was simultaneously adorable and pathetic.  
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3 comments:

  1. We're getting a puppy in 3 weeks and I'm already sad that I'll have to leave him every day. Luckily the Mr works from home, so he won't be all alone. As sad as they get when you leave, I'm always amazed that they are still so happy when you come home. Such an amazing animal :)

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    1. Seriously, having someone at home for that first year will make SUCH a huge difference. When we got Hayate it was the first time either of us had been responsible for a puppy and we really didn't know what we were doing. I would not bring a puppy home while working full time ever again; I'd at least organise some time off work.
      I can't wait to hear all about your puppy adventures, keep me up-dated!

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    2. He's an adorable corgi, so I'm sure he will be spoiled and totally misbehaved. On the plus side, this should give some good stories :)

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