Tuesday, January 3, 2012


*Post-Traumatic Stress - Dogs

I had a bad episode yesterday, and it's still bothering me today. To understand this, you need to know a few things about me and especially about my past:

First, since I came to live with M and J, one of my main health problems has been separation anxiety. The first year was especially rough. I hated it when either of them (especially M) went away and left me. If they both went somewhere, I hated that even worse. But I've been making pretty good progress for the past few months. I hardly ever move things around or eat letter openers anymore while they're gone, although I do still bark like crazy when they come home.

Second, dogs in general don't have much concept of linear time or the sequencing of events. We do know some things from hard experience about cause and effect. And through much study, I can tell today from yesterday and last week from last year and I think I finally know what "Later! Be patient!" means. But when different stressful things happen in a short period of time, the fine details can sometimes get muddled in my head.

Third--and this is something most of my friends already know--I used to live in the woods with a man who didn't have a regular house. We just camped out, mainly, and huddled together to stay warm and dry at night and ate whatever food was free or not too expensive. Well, long story short, the man died. Some people came in a big white truck with lights flashing all over it and took him away. But they didn't take me. At that point my life took a serious turn for the worse. I think that's why I finally picked M to be my new main human--because he looked a bit like a hobo, and being around him stirred some good memories. In fact, I think that for a while I was convinced he was really my homeless man, who woke up in the back of the big truck and somehow escaped from it. (It never occurred to me that it shouldn't take months for this to happen. There's that time-line problem at work.)

Before I get to yesterday's panic attack, I want to show you this picture I found of M feeding me treats by a field where I used to hang out. It was just moments later that I walked up and head-butted him in the chest to let him know he could live with me (again?) if he wanted to. Even though it's not a high-quality picture, I think you can tell how I might have confused M with a homeless man. He's not exactly dressed for the opera. (The reason the picture is so grainy is that J thought she had the camera set to take regular photos, when she really had it set to do video. What she ended up with was mostly a short movie of the ground and the sky and some trees zipping around.)

Okay, now on to the "bad episode": Yesterday morning as I looked out the living room window, one of those big white trucks with the flashing lights pulled up in front of our house. Then an even bigger one pulled up from the other direction. A few people got out of each truck. The ones from the first truck were pushing some kind of bed thing on wheels. Soon all the truck people disappeared behind some tall bushes that are in our front yard. Then the ones from the really big truck went and got back in it and drove away. Then the ones from the smaller big truck went back to it pushing the bed on wheels, and they had another person tied into it. They loaded the bed with that person into their truck and they drove away, too. Then M said he had to go to the store. He backed his truck out of the garage and drove away as well.

A few minutes later I looked around and noticed that M wasn't here. And I remembered the bed with the person tied into it, and the big white trucks driving away--and I guess I assumed the person in the bed was M. And I went nuts!

I don't personally remember all of these details, but I heard J telling M about my episode when he got home from the store. Basically, what she said was that I sat on the couch and stared out the window, trying to look up and down the street--but I couldn't see very much because bushes were in the way. Then I walked around the house whimpering and crying, and nothing that J said to me could make me hush. I was a wreck. I went to the door that leads to the garage and lay down beside it on the floor for a long time, making occasional whistling noises with my nose. Then I got up and went through this whole process all over again. And again. And probably again.

Finally M came home and started bringing bags of groceries into the house, and I vaguely remembered that when he'd left he was in his own truck and that this was after the big white trucks had gone away. I was relieved, to say the least, but in no mood to take any chances. I followed M around for the rest of the day and today am still dogging his tracks (pun intended).

By the way, I later heard that the person who got taken away in one of the big trucks is a neighbor who lives across the street and who sometimes reads my blog. She was sick, so they took her to a hospital where doctors can take care of her. She is a nice lady who always speaks to me when she sees me outside. I hope she feels better and comes home soon.


Jenny and Jeff said...

We hope she feels better soon as well. Hugs to you and your neighbor.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you sure scared me. I thought it was you in the hospital. Give Buddy an extra treat from me.


MA Follower said...

Hey, Buddy! So sorry you had to go through all that! Ditto the previous two comments - had my own panic attack at the beginning of your account, thinking M or J had a medical problem. Glad we're all calmed down now! Best wishes to your neighbor.

Your neighbor's sister said...

Hi Buddy! I'm sorry you were frightened by your neighbor's ride in the big truck. She would be very upset to know that it scared you. She is being taken care of and hopefully she will be home soon. I promise to bring her home in the car. I know she misses you.

Linda Weber said...

Buddy, you are so lucky to have M and J as your family now. They love you and will protect you always. Sorry you had such a bad experience but hopefully with some extra love and treats you are OK now. Love, Linda and Sophie