The days after our basement flooding were ones of great concern to me regarding Dexter’s progress. I suppose I shouldn’t have been so worried, and should have had more faith in Dexter, and in Amichien Bonding.
The next day, as I had written in my previous post, I tightened up on all four areas of AB, and behaved as though nothing had happened. I did notice a bit more barking from Dexter at odd times again, such as when I went outside, or walked to the chicken coop. Clearly he had been rattled by the previous night’s events. But I proceeded as though nothing was out of the ordinary.
The effect during the following days truly amazed me. Not only did Dexter rebound back, but he reached a new level of calm! He’s sleeping much more than he ever has. Now his routine is to have breakfast and if he potties completely he gets to nap in our daughter’s bed, which he does until almost noon. Completely quiet. I have gone in an out of the house, vacuumed the pellet stove, something that previously would have sent him over the edge, worked with my own dog on the main floor, and was greeted to wonderful, blissful silence.
In the evening he has his dinner, goes outside, then goes into his room, settling peacefully in his crate for the evening. He has a quick potty run at about between 7:30 and 8:30 PM. Last outing is at about 10:00 or so, and at this time I now have to wake him to go outside!
This is a dog whose every nerve seemed to be exposed. A cough would make him leap around and bark. One of the dogs shaking out his coat would send him. And now he’s at the point where most of the day is quiet.
Now, I will say that midday seems to be his active time, and he will bark for attention. I do work with him and spend time with him for approximately three hours every afternoon. Sometimes this time is divided, and sometimes it’s all in one lump. So he’s a bit more demanding, but I’m working with him on that with short isolations. Isolation didn’t work with him early on; he was just too panicked all the time, and when someone is panicked, there’s just no way learning can take place. Dexter has calmed to the point that he’s eager to learn. Such a joy!
I realized somewhere in the first few days of this week of recovery, that I had reached another, deeper level of calm. I had thought about the effect our behavior and energy during the basement crisis had affected all three of the dogs. Would I want to follow someone who was running, rushing, shouting? Would I be able to believe in their leadership, their capability to help me in a time of crisis or danger? Absolutely not. And what was the end result of all that chaos? Things are fine, no one died from it, and thankfully our house is intact. So what and who did all that noise and confusion serve? No one.
And how did I allow myself to move so far away from my years of study, meditation and training?
Thankfully this training allowed me to make some space, put some distance between the events of last weekend; enough so that I could look at it with a calm, detached perspective. What went wrong? Most importantly, what do I need to do for myself so that I don’t get so pulled out of my center again? And most importantly, remember to keep the dogs and their needs front and center so that I don’t allow myself to get so rattled.
Another opportunity for learning, as always, had presented itself and was rich with lessons for me. I felt so much the better for it, and Dexter wasn’t the only one who had reached another, deeper level of calm and peace within.
Mornings are still a bit of a noisy challenge, because he still begins to bark between 7:30 and 8:00 AM and has a difficult time calming until he’s fed. This behavior has been reinforced many, many times, so I’m not surprised that it’s still lingering. So I’m working with him on it with a combination of isolations and de-sensitizing. I bring his food bowl to his door where he can see it, act as though I’m getting ready to feed him, then will walk away, all without eye contact. I repeat this exercise over and over until he’s truly calm, because he’s realizing he can’t control when he will be fed. And since I don’t go to him at all when he’s barking unless it’s to close his door for isolation, he decides that it’s in his best interest to just wait quietly until I decide it’s time to eat. He’s been doing much better with this, so I’m hopeful that these last areas of crazy barking will be released by him.
I’ve been searching for breed-specific rescues and it looks as though I’ve found a couple that will list him. There is a woman who seems to be interested in fostering and/or adopting and I was going to bring Dexter to meet her, but am re-thinking this now. I’m supposed to do a home visit for the Min Pin rescue to see if she is a good candidate to foster dogs for them. She already has a Doberman; my thinking is it would be “cute” to have a mini as well. Hmmm…I have spoken with her about Amichien Bonding and she seems open-minded enough, but who really knows? The other problem I have is she travels twice a month and expects both dogs to travel with her, something I really don’t think Dexter could do, unless she’s truly devoted to living with AB and even then there would have to be a period of transition where Dexter is given stability in his new home. Right now, only almost eight weeks into his recovery, I don’t believe he could be flexible enough mentally and emotionally to take that kind of instability on. With me, perhaps, but that’s because I can see most of his subtle questions. Someone new to AB may not.
My issue that is coming forward is, can I trust Dexter to another person? I realize I’m becoming quite protective of him, and with good reason; his mental state was so fragile and deteriorating rapidly when he arrived here. Can I really hand him off to someone who may or may not relate to dogs appropriately? I do have the condition of learning AB in his bio, but the other problem is I do need to get this little guy a home to settle him in there before he’s too happy being here. But that may have aleady happened.
I think of foster children, being shifted from place to place, not being allowed to attach to anyone. How deeply wounding that is. Dogs are no different, being group-living animals. They desparately need a family pack for obvious reasons, but also because instinctually they know their best chance of survival is to belong to a family pack.
It’s going to be very, very challenging helping Dexter to move on