Sarah and Daisy
A day at the beach
Daisy is a beagle who spent her first two years as a research animal, caged in a laboratory. She was tattooed on her ear and belly, her dewclaws were removed, and she was de-barked, as many lab animals are to keep them quiet. Daisy was used in about ten studies, where she was injected with a chemotherapy drug, then had her blood drawn repeatedly to determine how long it remained in her system.
At the conclusion of the study, Daisy was lucky enough to be taken home by a lab technician, who soon discovered that Daisy had some special needs. Perhaps the most difficult for her new owner was that Daisy had never learned bowel or bladder control, having lived in a cage with a grate and drop-through pan. She also couldn’t be left alone in the house, since she suffered severe separation anxiety and was destructive out of sheer desperation when her owner left the house.
The lab technician kept Daisy outside on a back patio anytime she left home and had her sleep outside in her crate at night to prevent Daisy from toileting in the house. She loved Daisy and worked with her on agility and obstacle courses, but after some time, realized that it would be best for Daisy to live with someone who could spend more time with her.
Sarah learned of Daisy’s situation and had compassion for all Daisy had been through, and after careful consideration, adopted her. Sarah had another dog, Chloe, who took Daisy under her wing and showed her the ropes. Daisy’s behavior issues quickly became apparent to Sarah, and unfortunately, were only exacerbated when Daisy’s one canine companion, Chloe, died of natural causes.
In addition to the toileting issues and separation anxiety Daisy suffered, she also barked for attention; leapt onto the kitchen table and other furniture; panicked at sounds she didn’t understand; jumped up on people; and begged at the table. If a fly came indoors, Daisy hid for hours under the bed and shook. Outside, she was afraid of normal traffic sounds, terrified to ride in a car, pulled on the leash – sometimes lying down on the sidewalk – and simply refused to walk beyond a two-block radius from home. Sarah knew that this was not a happy dog and that she needed help, so she asked for my guidance.
It is not surprising, considering Daisy’s start in life, that she had so many difficulties with living in a home setting. Dogs do not understand the world we live in, and even puppies raised in loving homes often have a hard time acclimating to our human surroundings. In addition, canines are best suited to living in packs – they’ve survived this way for thousands of years. Hierarchy within the pack ensures survival, so when dogs live with humans, they are looking to us for leadership. If we do not provide clear signals that we are in charge, the dog quickly takes that role to fill the void, and the behavior problems begin because the dog is making decisions for its family in an environment it cannot comprehend.
The first thing I advised Sarah to do was to inundate Daisy with very clear leadership signals in all their interactions. There are certain times when dogs especially look for signs of leadership, and these revolve around food, the walk, perceived danger and reuniting after a separation (see Jan Fennell’s book, The Dog Listener, for more about how to achieve leadership using Amichien® Bonding.) Sarah made changes in her daily routine to help Daisy understand that it was not her job to look after Sarah, and before long, Daisy began to relax as she accepted her new place in the pack.
Sarah and Daisy have been using Amichien Bonding steadily for about a year now, and friends, family and strangers regularly comment on how relaxed Daisy is. She mostly comes when called; she is able to be in a separate room from Sarah without fretting; she walks down busy streets on a loose leash with Sarah leading the way; when she hears a sound that upsets her, she looks to Sarah for guidance and relaxes more quickly; when left at home alone she is generally at ease and no longer claws at the door; she does not beg at the table; her toileting habits have vastly improved; and she is able to be around strangers without constantly seeking attention.
Amichien Bonding is an ongoing process – a different way of living with dogs – and Daisy’s improved behavior is a work in progress. The more calmly and consistently a dog’s guardian implements the method over time, the more the dog relaxes and positive results are seen. Daisy sometimes accompanies Sarah to work, sleeping soundly in her bed and snoring loudly, without needing to demand attention from visitors. Sarah reports that Daisy is the best-behaved dog in the waiting room at the vet’s office, where she no longer shakes or panics, but instead, lies at Sarah’s feet waiting her turn while other patients whine, bark, pant and pace!
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