20 Apr A human and her SA dog
A little bit of history.
Malva is a thirteen-month-old mutt, who lives in Chile as part of our family. Today, she has been following a behavior modification program for almost three months to overcome her Separation Anxiety. Malva’s hasn’t been alone in this journey…her dad, me, and an old Dachshund – her grandpa named Blas – have been supporting her in every step of the way.
Malva was found with her brothers and one sister in the streets of Santiago, under her mother’s care. A team of great and noble people gave them refuge, and started the process of finding them a new home.
It was a rainy day when I met Malva for the first time, while she was in her foster guardian’s arms. She was wearing a little coat to cover her from the cold and was looking at me with little black and bright sleepy eyes.
Welcoming her to her new home.
The day after she arrived to our home, she was welcomed with joy and curiosity from her grandpa Blas.
Malva loved to chew on things (besides hands and heels), play around, bark, and eat…eating was one of her biggest!! When it was time to feed her, she would get very anxious with jumping and high pitched barking. The food in her bowl used to disappear in no more than five seconds.
Walking times were also a challenge. Every time a dog approached her or was in her sight, she would voraciously pull on the leash, with high pitched barking, out of control and occasionally biting my legs and rear.
To help her sleep, I set a medium size box, comfortably covered with some blankets, located close beside my bed. But it wasn’t enough. She would act restlessly anyways, crying, and chewing on her bed. Soon enough she learned how to jump and get out of the box, so I didn’t have any other option than to let her sleep with me, because it was the only way to help her relax and feel safe.
Our face to face encounter with Separation Anxiety.
Every time I tried to get into the bathroom to take a shower, she would cry and bark. I had to let her in to make her stop.
Every time I left home, Malva was accompanied by her grandpa Blas (the old Dachshund), but she would bark non-stop for hours anyways, chewing and scratching doors, peeing on my bed and other areas of the apartment. The worst part was hearing her howling. Some neighbors would complain and others would be concerned thinking that she was being mistreated.
I tried everything I could found: Special harnesses, anti bark collars, different food bowl styles, music, aromatherapy, Bach flowers, all kinds of indestructible Kongs, stuffed toys, and medication.
The light at the end of the tunnel.
After all the failure and frustration, a day came when we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel! What did we really need? Guidance and daily support.
This is when Moira came in [special effects: ‘A miracle just happened’].
I didn’t know where to start, it seemed too much to handle, but she made me see that we just needed to start with one step at a time, little by little, and that doing so we were going to eventually accomplish our goals.
Will I be patient enough? Will we make it? Every day that has passed since we got on board with this program and committed to Malva has been like building a house of cards with multiple floors, taking care of every detail, because even sighing could topple that house, making all our progress fall apart. The good news is that you can always resume building it again.
And oh boy, how much we have accomplished!!!
A little testimony.
Week 1: “Ok. I leave the aparment, close the door behind me, and come back immediately.”
Absence duration: 1 second.
Week 11: “Ok. I leave the apartment, close the door behind me, go down the stairs, and wait.”
Absence duration: 15 minutes…(have I already been here for 15 minutes?) 30 minutes… (my eyes are closing) 45 minutes… (where is my bed?) 60 minutes…(I need to go the restroom!)
And what’s happening in the meantime on the other side? Malva is sleeping on her bed / Malva is laying down just looking at the living room and hallway randomly / Malva is curiously peeking through the window <3
Thank you Moira for educating us (the humans) so our loved ones can feel relaxed, safe, and free.
Silvana, Malva & Blas