Stress Puppy

What a roller coaster this week’s been. Saturday, Sarah seemed to have fun being out with me and meeting the other people and dogs at training. But then I noticed Sunday that she was acting scared of me at home, slinking away from me when I called her to come and just cowering in the chair when I tried getting her to come to me across the room. It breaks my heart to see her this way!


She’s been on an antibiotic, so I chalked it up partly to that and partly to the fact that the training may be freaking her out.

I found myself sick with either an intestinal virus or food poisoning Tuesday evening and spent the night running to the bathroom. Ugh. Wednesday brought even more “life, unscripted” when Howie and I were shocked to see a large growth on her elbow.

I popped some Imodium and hoped for the best, heading to the vet with Sarah. I had to bring Emma (a.k.a. our separation anxiety poster child) with me since Nancy had to leave for church before I’d get back and couldn’t watch her. What an adventure…Muddy pawprints, much excitement, and an arm which now feels ten feet long from being pulled. Emma is *not* well-behaved on a leash, and she’s also very vocal. It was exhausting keeping hold of her and trying to shush her in the waiting room.

The vet did a needle aspiration from the lump and the sample she took showed several kinds of bacteria present. She changed Sarah’s antibiotic since the one she was on for her bladder evidently was not tackling the problem with her elbow on its own. She was on 250mg cephalexin 2x/day, but is now on 600mg Primor 1x/day for 10 days. Today the swelling is almost totally gone, thank God. We were so afraid it was some kind of malignancy – Thoughts always jump to the worst first when it’s someone we love, don’t they?

My aunt asked me if Sarah had been lying on hard surfaces a lot lately. That question made me laugh aloud, given the fact that Sarah’s one of our “comfort-seeking missiles”. When I thought about what we did Saturday, though, I made a connection.

It could well be that, during the “down” command we were teaching the dogs Saturday, Sarah’s elbow was scraped on the concrete floor. The trainer had us applying pressure to the dog’s left hip while curving its upper bodies toward its right hip, effectively making it into a sort of C-shape. When the dog lay down, it received a treat.

Since we were training the dogs to lie down on our left side, it is her left elbow which bore the brunt of her weight when we put the dogs into position. If she did get a little scraped, any bacteria on the floor or on her skin would enter the wound. Bacteria are common everywhere, even on a healthy dogs’ skin, so it stands to reason there would be a lot of bacteria where training is taking place.

The infection aside, Sarah’s just not responding well to the training. I could tell Sarah definitely did not like this part of the training, especially when the trainer took her from me and used her as an example a few times. Sarah was very timid from that point on, and you could tell that’s where the day lost its fun for her. I think that may be what put her over the top.

As much as I hate to do it, I am going to bow out. She cowers from me and won’t come across the room to me when I call her. She just sits on the chair and cowers, licking her lips like dogs do to show submission. Like I said, it breaks my heart to see her this way.

I really thought she’d do well as a therapy dog. She has such a sweet personality and is so eager to please. If the training’s stressing her out this much, I’m not going to continue. She may have been treated roughly in training by her previous owners, and this sudden emphasis on training may be triggering her stress.

Sarah’s health and happiness as a pet are way more important than any desire I have to do a “job” with her. Maybe Emma will be a better match for the Delta Society training (as soon as she learns some basic manners, that is!). I just left a message on our local Angel Paws coordinator. I’m a little bummed out right now.

This entry was posted in Pets.

3 thoughts on “Stress Puppy

  1. Please don’t feel bad. From what you have said, it really sounds like you are doing what is best for Sarah and I think you will be saving your relationship with her in the meantime. You’re a good mamma 🙂

  2. Sarah may not be the right temperment to take part in that program and she may do better learning basics from you alone, away from the stress of a class. When you adopt an animal like Sarah, you are faced with learning what they can take and what they can’t. Just like people these furry friends of ours have “bagage” that we are not aware of. For whatever reason, the class freaked her out. Give her time and she’ll settle back down and trust you again. She knows you love her and that will conquer her fears!

  3. So sorry it didn’t work out, GW. No need to fret over it, though. Sarah’s “job” is to be therapy for you, and I’m sure she’ll be back to herself once she realizes the classes are over, and she can return to being your sweetie.

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