If anyone has read the book, “Marley and Me”, my dog Nala was not far behind in relation to Marley’s behavior. I adopted Nala from the Anti-Cruelty Society when she was just a puppy. I had signed up as a foster care volunteer and she was my first and last foster pet; after three weeks of caring for her getting over a mild case of kennel cough, I could not bear to part with her.
I should have recognized the signs from day 1; however, being a new dog owner, I chalked it up to mischievous puppy behavior versus early warning signs of separation anxiety. When I left for work she would be in her crate. When I came home she greeted me at the door and the crate door wide open. Sometimes, the crate door would still be closed and Nala somehow was there, at the door, greeting me with a vigorously wagging tail. It was hard to get mad at her, as I was still in awe of how she did her little Houdini act without a scratch on her. Shortly after, I would gate her in small spaces and she learned how to jump over the gate and still greet me at the door. Slowly over time, the carpet by the door was now torn up and in mangled threads, scratches appeared on my wood floors by the front door; but I never thought it of anything else than puppy boredom when I was at work or just typical puppy antics. The carpet was replaced and remained intact as she got older and the scratches were buffed out and maybe only one or two reappeared if I was gone during a bad thunderstorm.
Nala met a very good friend named Riley, when I met my ex-husband six years ago, and soon she had a playmate almost 24/7. For the next six years, the two became inseparable and moped the rare occasion when separated. In October of 2005, when I moved out after an non-amicable divorce, I, sobbing uncontrollably, took Nala away from Riley and moved her into our new home.
The first week went well. At then end of the first week, unbeknownst to me, Nala had the police and neighbors convinced someone broke into my unit. The truth was, Nala, managed to do all that work herself in a mad search for some company while I was at work. To make a long story short, Nala was crying, barking, scratching away the drywall, breaking off the casing around the door and pawing it open- making a mad dash to other units who had four legged occupants. She apparently couldn’t stand to be alone and the minute I walked out the door, her desperate need for another living being to be by her took over and she didn’t stop until someone opened their door and let her come in and she would just sit in their condo happy as a clam. No more barking, crying- nothing- wasn’t even begging for food- just company. While some neighbors understood my dire situation, one pair didn’t and threatened to make me get rid of her or move, if she continued her antics. Thus began the search for help in finding out how to solve this problem that I never knew existed. I tried crate training (again) – turns out she remembered the Houdini routine from years past. And her banging the crate was not appreciated by (understandably so) anyone. She did well with being boarded in a crate- just not in her home. I tried herbal remedies, bark collars, day care- you name it I tried it. I even adopted a kitten to keep her company. I had to adopt two, since the first one died (from distemper, not by Nala) two days later. Just my luck!
Lots of money and tears later, Dr. Curtis from Integrative Pet Care referred me to AnimalSense. If only I had talked to them from the start.
Using a combination of relaxation exercises and anti-anxiety medication, just six months later, Nala is a much calmer dog when I leave and I pretty much have my normal life back. I have been able to come and go over a couple of weekends and not return home to find my new curtains shredded or the screens on the sidewalk. There have been zero escapes and no new scratches on the door. And as far as I know, no new complaints from the neighbors who threatened to make me get rid of her. Nala and the kitten/cat (Lambeau) are buddies and a few times I catch her playing with him like he’s a puppy.
From the very start, AnimalSense had nothing but my interest and Nala’s in mind. I can only say good things about their program. The office staff is very friendly, helpful and empathetic.