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.

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