24 April 2009

The Melodramas of Mia

We've had a lot of rain lately - grumble, grumble - but now the sun is shining and summer appears to be on its way. Soon I'll be complaining about the heat! Dogs love to eat young fresh grass and we've got than enough of that. Sometimes I think I'm looking after a herd of cows rather than a bunch of dogs. I've heard people say there must be something wrong with a dog if it needs to eat grass. I've never found this. In the wild a dog would first eat the stomach contents of their 'kill' and that would include grasses. My late lamented Milou ate grass once a month and then vomited bile. His way of getting rid of it. Far better than buying medication at the veterinarians.

Mia, not only eats grass, she chomps happily on my Jade plant - a succulent, often called a 'money tree.' There is a Chinese tradition that you place a Jade plant outside your front door to encourage the money to come in and another outside your back door to stop it leaving. Thanks to Mia my Jade plant is getting smaller and smaller. Perhaps a bad omen for my bank account. Maybe the world is in such a bad financial state because all our dogs are eating the Jade plants. Now that would be something new to blame, wouldn't it?

Mia has problems though. When Mistral died, she seemed not to bother at all - didn't look for her, didn't seem to miss her and then I realised she was becoming more and more attached to me. I had become 'her Mistral' and so when I went out, she suffered massive separation anxiety and then went berserk. It started small and got bigger until one day, returning from a trip to the market, I found curtains pulled down, curtain rail down too - bent screws, no less. Paintings off the wall, books all over the place, chewed this, chewed that. A nightmare.

I called the vet who told me there are two medications for 'separation anxiety.' One I was familiar with. Bosun, a dog I used to look after was given it but it made him very dopey, almost depressed and his owner eventually stopped using it. Sadly Bosun is no longer with us but you can read about that wonderful dog by clicking on the link.

The other drug is called Zylkene and is apparently made of a product that resembles the chemical in mother's milk and so, in theory, calms the dog. I started Mia on this and the next time I went out left her downstairs in a spare room. This room has an internal kennel - something I installed years ago in case I ever had a difficult or a sick dog needing isolation. It's not been used in years, in fact, it was full of my old suitcases. I cleared it out and made it comfortable for Mia. I left her down there for short periods to begin, got her used to it. When I went out though, it didn't work - she'd poop and pee and make a dreadful mess and the poop had blood in it. The vet told me this is because she is so upset, the poop gets bloody.The next time she'd poop - in the garden - perfect.

So then I hauled a very large cage upstairs into the living room so that she could be confined but would be with the other dogs. En principe, I don't like cages but I know they have their uses as a training device and some dogs see them as a secure sanctuary. My hope was Mia would do this. I started feeding her in the cage and she's quite happy with that but wants to come out immediately. I practiced with her during the day. 15 minutes at a time and eventually left her in the cage when I went out. For a couple of short periods, it worked, but then one day I came home from visiting friends for lunch - I was out 3 hours - blood everywhere. Not from her rear end but from her nose where she'd bloodied it try to get thru the bars. Her front feet were swollen too, where she'd gone crazy trying to get out . She had difficulty walking that evening and she was in one hell of a state about it all.

Since then I've not been out.

But obviously we have to solve this problem. I have to go out at times. We need food, I love my photography, I like to see friends. I've already cancelled a four-day trip to Italy and have declined several social invitations locally. That's all OK but we have to solve the problem. Indeed, five blogger friends are coming to visit in a couple of weeks - two will stay here, three in an hotel in Menton and I will be 'tour guide' and so will be out a lot of the time. I'm really looking forward to their visit. So, the problem of Mia has to be solved. Mia hates the cage and hurts herself. She's not happy downstairs but at least she doesn't hurt herself. But then she is alone. She can't be left upstairs, free, with the other dogs, because she goes bananas and wrecks the place. Oh dear.

I called the vet. We've doubled the dose of medication. Friends suggest a Kong toy filled with some interesting food to occupy her. Another suggested a hollow bone. I happened to have one of these and tried her in the cage yesterday (I didn't go out) but her concern at being shut in the cage was far greater than her greed for food.

On the other hand, there are improvements. When strangers come to the house, she doesn't stand outside barking non-stop. Yes, she stands outside but at least she doesn't bark. When she dares to enter the house, she'll sneak past the dreaded visitor and go sit in an armchair. This happened last night when a friend came to dinner. After dinner, he went up to her, gently - but she jumped off the chair, over the coffee table, onto the sofa. She is capable of relaxing tho - remember how she was with Mister Brian?

She is also in much better condition physically, she's put on weight, her skin is better although still quite dry but she has Omega oils for this. And when we are all here alone, she's content - even plays with other dogs on occasion but rarely takes her eyes off me.

This afternoon I have to go out as I need more of her medication. I'll put her downstairs where she can't hurt herself and with that hollow bone stuffed with soft cheese which I know she likes.

Let's hope it works.
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