29 May 2009

The Solution


As I mentioned in the last post, things got pretty difficult for Mia. When I went out I couldn't leave her shut in the house as she wrecked it, suffering as she does (since Mistral's death) from chronic separation anxiety. I couldn't leave her downstairs because she was so fraught that she passed blood - and lots of it (I even took a photograph but don't worry I'm not showing it to you!) and I couldn't leave her in a cage upstairs because she cut herself to pieces trying to get out.

I tried her again downstairs, with even more medication to calm her, but it was even worse than before. Not only did she pass blood but when I got home and let her out she walked around the garden, stomach in spasm, passing blood every five minutes.

What to do? I couldn't leave her and yet I 'have' to go out. Around three weeks ago I was ready to put her to sleep. In fact I'd spoken to the vet about it. Sounds awful I know, but she was so fraught, so sick when I left, it was no life. A dog sitter wasn't an option. I'd be wary of leaving other people's dogs with a dog sitter - it's such a responsibility - and anyway, I never go out for very long and often it's at short notice, depending on the weather, for instance - when I want to take photographs.

Then my American friend, Candy, suggested I try leaving her outside in the garden/terrace area. I couldn't imagine that this would work. Had visions of Mia fighting to get out of the gate, howling (believe me, she has a real hound's howl) and upsetting the neighbours with the noise, perhaps even hurting herself even more than she already had trying to get out. However I had noticed that when I walk up the track to get the newspaper and mail, she didn't seem to bother if I went up the back way and out the top gate. If I left by the main gate, she went bananas. So one day I walked up the back way, drove the car to the top of the track ready for my escape. I came back down, shut all the dogs in the house except Mia and Beau - it seemed she would do better with company. Then I walked back up, as if I was simply going to the mailbox. My wonderful neighbour, Agn├Ęs, was on full alert, listening for crying, barking, scratching. I sat in the car up the top of the track for a while but all seemed well. Eventually off I went and when I got back - miracle - Mia and Beau were fast asleep on the terrace chairs.

Mia is saved!

Since then I've been out endless times - always walking up the back way to the top gate (great fun if you are a dressed up and it's raining) but now, instead of having to come back down the same way, I can drive down the track and enter by the main gate. I can also drive away from the parking area (no need to take the car up in advance) - she knows I'm leaving (I presume?) and if I go out the back way, no problem. Don't ask me the logic of it. I don't ask, I'm just happy. If I ever go out the main gate though - even for five minutes - she goes berserk.

She's in super condition now, skin healed, eyes clear, ears clean, she's put on weight and she's even stopped eating the Jade plant. She's terrified of people as I said but has no fear of the vacuum cleaner yet hates brooms. And she has started playing, particularly with little Choupette, the pug, who is a new client. They just love playing together.

Choupette had a tough start in life - she had to be operated for kidney stones at 8 weeks and also had demodectic mange (fortunately not contagious) which is now cured. She's put up with a lot in her young life but like all pugs, is so brave and such fun and has no idea she is a little dog. She started the games with Mia and Mia just loves her. When Mia plays with Choupette, she's like a puppy.

And now that we've solved the problem of my going out, I do believe she is a happy dog. What happens in winter, when it's cold, I don't know. I'm not addressing that problem yet. One step at a time...

Thanks so much to everyone for their support with Mistral and Mia. It's really been so helpful - you have no idea. Certainly Mia has had the most problems of any dog I've ever adopted but happily it seems to be working out for her at last.

25 comments:

spacedlaw said...

How nice that you found a solution. I got really worried for the poor dog when I started to read the post (the title feels a little sinister).
So nice to see her play.

Jilly said...

Spacedlaw, I chose the title as it has two meanings - you are right. I'd not have chosen it had she really been put to sleep! Happily she's lying on the sofa eating a biscuit. Thanks for your support with her.

Zephirine said...

Oh, hooray!!

She's obviously decided the main gate is the Gate of Death and if you go out through it you'll meet with some terrible fate... Have you tried bringing visitors in through the back 'safe' way, to see if she's less frightened of them?

Lessie said...

I'm so happy to read this post -- very heartwarming. The pics of Mia with the cute pug are adorable. Congratulations for saving her!

martha said...

Congratulations to you and to Mia. That is such wonderful news.

Winter comes gradually, remember, so changes to her routine can also be introduced gradually. I'm sure you will work through it together.

lady jicky said...

Oh Jilly I am so happy!!! Something so simple and yet....I would never think of that! Bravo Spacedlaw!!! Do you think a house placed outside - a big wooden one might help with winter? With blankets and a comfey pillow like bedding for her old bones to sleep or rest on might be the trick.
Now for that pug --- there is nothing a pug loves to do is have a good old play and I am so happy to see Mia having tons of fun too!

Jilly said...

Zephirine, I don't think that would work although it sounds a great idea. I have a guy who comes in every week thru that gate - he works on the land for three hours - and she is terrified of him. Obviously she's been hit in the past by a man, but she's scared of women too, perhaps just a little less?

Lady Jicky, they have a really large covered terrace and chairs to sleep on. Trouble is when it's cold or rainy it can blow in. There is a cellar downstairs and I could easily leave that door open with comfy dog beds inside. Goodness knows tho if she'd go in - perhaps scared she'd be shut in but that is certainly something I must try. Part of the problem is that Beau doesn't 'do' rain! Anyway, things may improve by winter as they have already. Mia really is getting so much better in many other ways.

Thanks so much.

maria said...

I'm glad Mia has come around but she wouldn't have done so without you. Don't feel bad that you had considered putting her to sleep. She is a dog with a lot of issues and you should always look back and think of all the wonderful things you did for her. I hope she starts enjoying dog life soon! And I'm glad you can now go out with less worries and take pics for us!

Anonymous said...

Mia is smart - she remembers the front door with you leaving and guests arriving. I would keep the backdoor as your own personal use for now and stay casual about its new use and getting your 'mail' each day. I really enjoy your blogs- I may be silent but I do read them. You are really a hero for what you have done to rescue Mistral & Mia in the first place.

Neva said...

I am so glad that leaving her out works so well... winter will just have to be put on hold!I am so glad she is doing so well....I think of you even if I am not visiting!

PJ said...

The important thing is that you've given her a routine, something she understands. Count every day as a blessing, maybe by winter she may not notice at all but if she does, one of us, her devoted followers, will surely help you come up with something. We're committed!
The pics with the pug are so adorable.

poody said...

Oh how sweet! I can understand being so brokenhearted you are just beside yourself! Poor baby! Glad she is doing better!

poody said...

OMG! I just got thru reading about the hell hole and it made me cry like a little baby! You are a sait honey and I love you for it! I will always and forever keep you in my prayers!

spacedlaw said...

I have given you an award.

TC said...

I just read your entire blog, like started @ today and read back to the beginning. Don't know why I'd missed it before, had looked @ your other ones. Only day I've taken off for a month or more without any "accomplishments" other than being thoroughly entertained by your adventures.

Thank you for writing them down.
Thank you also for rescuing dogs and taking such wonderful care of all of them.
TC

Owen said...

Hi Jilly, Like TC I don't know how I missed this, am just so terribly SLOW sometimes to pick up on important details... but here at last, wow, you've been doing this since 2005, and going strong... a fabulous way to share your dog stories... WILL BE BACK... WOOF !

Snapshutter said...

Glad to see the updates here, though belated (me that is). I wasn't sure whether you were still posting about your dogs.

So another hurdle has been crossed with Mia. Maybe she needs another friend for the winter solution? Have you tried leaving her downstairs with her friend, just as an experiment?

Jilly said...

Snapshutter, she won't tolerate being shut away even with a friend. However I did leave her in the garden, without her friend yesterday and it worked beautifully. He is old and I'd worry about him outside in winter. If necc. I think Mia would be OK. After all, the terrace has a roof and she'd be out of any rain. We'll see. Basically it's working very well so far. Thanks for the suggestion. It's a good idea but this is one tricky dog.

nancy LoBalbo said...

So glad you found an answer to Mia's separation anxiety. What a wonderful group of supporters you have on your blog, too. Sometimes it takes a few human brains to develop insight into one canine brain(-: Worry about winter when it gets here, for now all seems well!
regards, nancy L.

Kate said...

Poor Mia...but so lucky to have you. That is quite a story that has unfolded. Dogs are as complicated as people and so secure once their problems are solved. Winter is another issue, but you'll find a solution, I hope.

Yoork said...

I'm so glad she looks so happy! Do you think maybe she hates you leaving through the front door because maybe that was the last door that her old friend Mistral passed through, then never came back? Maybe the front door has a bad association for that reason? Maybe you could try taking another dog through the front door with you, then return quickly? Make a habit?

Jilly said...

Yoork, since I wrote this entry she is getting better. I can now leave thru the front gate to visit my neighbour, for instance. I've not tried driving off tho but it will come. She improves and improves except for her fear of people, of course. thanks so much for commenting.

lady jicky said...

Hi Jilly - its been awhile and I was wondering how Missy Mia is going now!
hugs.
Melinda, Kenzo and Moi Moi XXXX

Virginia said...

Oh Mia, I'm glad you have gotten that little bump in the road straightened out with Jilly. I like your playmate Choupette a lot. I lost my granddog Willie, last week. He was a cute chubby pug too. I hope you continue to do just great. "I'll be checking on you so you behave now!
V

PS Jilly, my sweet Willie left us last week. I featured his portrait on my blog. We're sad but the kids are doing better about it.

ParisBreakfasts said...

Interesting how she helped solve your problem for you, letting you know what worked for her..
Loving these warm stories
Thank you
Carolg

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