It was a wild couple of days. Those of you who follow me know that Leelu had one of her “episodes” last Thursday. Pain in one of her legs sent her to her go-to place whenever she is in pain or scared: snapping at faces and hands, baring her teeth, growling, etc. She’s pretty scary when she’s in that place, and we give her a very wide berth until she calms down. We were fortunate to have a vet-prescribed sedative which helped her relax enough to get her to the vet’s for x-rays and care, along with a new script for Prozac and also Carprofen for anti-inflammatory/pain relief.
Her recovery from all that, however, was not quick. In the past when she gets in that space, whoever she “blames” for the pain or anxiety – whoever was handy or complicit at the time – is persona non grata for a very long time. After six months she still doesn’t entirely trust my husband. She loved one of my stepsons, but when he decided (when I wasn’t around) to try to hug her at Christmas time, she snapped at him as well and hasn’t yet “forgiven” him. If dogs held grudges, she’d be a champ at it.
I have always been “her person,” even from her first hours with us last July. But this time, I was the one who tried to get her up for a potty break when she was in pain (which I didn’t know at the time.) So, this time, it was me she was afraid of, leaving her without a person that was comfortable for her. She wouldn’t even go outside with me in the back yard to potty. Tail tucked and cowering, and occasionally growling and baring her teeth, she was one stressed-out mess for a couple days. I had to leave a short leash on her full time for those days since getting it on and off wasn’t safe.
Gracie to the rescue. She may not be able to do her therapy work right now with the pandemic, but she was an excellent mentor dog for a couple days and helped Leelu through some tough moments. Leelu won’t walk alone with Marley, but on Thursday nights when I was teaching for five hours, Marley could get Leelu for a short walk/potty break (we don’t have a fenced yard) if Gracie went along. Since Leelu wouldn’t walk with me now, Gracie stepped in and gave Leelu the courage she needed to go out for walks and potty time.
In general, we had to just give Leelu the space she needed. She didn’t want to be too close to us and she certainly wasn’t inviting any touch.
Gradually, very gradually, Leelu began to relax and by Sunday she was cautiously coming to me seeking out pets and affection. We were both feeling pretty cautious about that! But little by little, as the day wore on, she get more comfortable, and by the evening she was willing to go out with me without Gracie. By later that evening, she was comfortable enough to fall asleep on the sofa in a usual spot of hers and not worry about us.
To say that this dog stretches my skills is an understatement, and I’m very glad to have the help of a behavioral consultant in working with her. For now, we’re just giving the Prozac and the Carprofen a couple weeks to take hold, and then we’ll start on some behavior modification again. Short walks and R&R are on the agenda for now, and hopefully she’ll start to feel better.