They eat, they play, they go for walks and they snuggle. Happy days.
Monday morning rocks around and their humans are up early getting ready for work. Sarge starts worry. He doesn’t want to be left alone without his favourite people. What if they never come back? What if he ends up alone forever in the house?
And like that their humans are gone. Reggie starts fretting. He’s panting and stressed. Sarge is desperate for them to come back. Please don’t leave me. Just five more minutes together please. What if you never come back?
The boys feed off each others anxiety, stress builds and then Sarge starts to paw at the door. It feels like he’s in a fight for his life. He’s scratching and chewing at the door trying desperately to be closer to his family. Reggie is barking. He’s begging for them to come back.
Exhausted they eventually fall asleep by the door trying to get as close to their humans as possible. The kongs are left untouched. The treats go unchewed and the toys remain where they were left.
Sarge’s ears prick up, Reggie jumps up on all fours. It’s the familiar sounds and smells of family coming home. Ecstatic the jump at the door, they leap all over their humans. So thankful that they have in fact returned.
Reggie bounds down to the treats and starts hoovering them down in true labra-hoover fashion. Finally, the world is set right and the dogs settle back down to rest and snuggle with their humans.
Later that evening their people start recapping their day. “So that’s yet another door frame that Sarge has destroyed”. “He must have been so panicked to do all that damage. He’s lucky he didn’t hurt himself.” Sarge rolls over and stretches his long legs out. “What we are doing isn’t working… I think we need some help.”
And so, their humans go about seeking help for Reggie and Sarge. They are terrified of the boys being drugged up and losing their personalities on medication however they don’t want them to be so scared to be left alone. They don’t know what they are going to do, but they know they can’t continue like this.
What if one of them quits works and becomes a full time stay at home pet parent? Sarge thinks this is by far the best idea. But alas, that is not a practical solution. More food, maybe they just haven’t tried enough treats? Reggie contemplates this but nope, he’s not going to eat if noone is there. Maybe it’s time to get help from our family vet?
The next weekend Dr Belinda comes around for a visit – she has so many treats. Reggie and Sarge are thrilled that she’s here again. It just seems to rain treats everywhere she goes.
It’s time for a family chat with Dr Belinda. We talk triggers, we talk about the time that Sarge got stuck on the roof of a neighbor’s house when he was in a panic and no one was home with him… seriously Sarge. You are not a cat!
We talk about how terrifying it must be for Sarge and Reggie to feel scared when they are left alone. We talk about how when they are panicked they cannot learn. This is why they still don’t link that family always comes back with them leaving. They are simply too freaked out to learn this lesson.
Medication is discussed. Now, this is a scary thought but Dr Belinda reassures them that we are not aiming at making them into zombies. Whilst Sarge and Reggie would be the most adorable dog zombies, that is not the aim of treatment. We want to help them to feel more comfortable in their skin and be better equipped to learn how to be left alone.
The humans are instructed to each take a doggo to a different part of the house and feed them treats while the doggo is on a mat for 1-2 minutes whilst telling them they are good dog. Reggie keeps coming back for more meditation…
Prescriptions are written. Instructions are given and stories are shared about Dr Belinda’s two puppers who have both been on the same medications and who are now much happier in themselves. The family of four collapse on the couch after a big afternoon talking all things dog behavior.
The next morning both Reggie and Sarge are given an extra special treat. Sarge thinks that a tablet is mixed in there, but Reggie didn’t notice. He realised it hit his stomach before he thought to sniff the food.
Oh no. Looks like the humans are leaving again. Reggie and Sarge start to get worried, but for some reason it doesn’t feel so bad this time. Reggie wanders over and starts to check out the treats that have been left for him. Sarge grabs a toy and heads towards the door. Down he flops and starts playing with his toy.
The hours pass, the boys wander in and out of the doggy door. They chill. The humans arrive home. Why are they so excited to see us this time? thinks Sarge. Wow – they keep telling us that we are good boys. I don’t know what we did but I like it thinks Reggie.
Unbelievably the door frame remains unchewed and over time they boys are happy to be left alone. Once, they accidentally got left outside after a rental inspection and they didn’t try to barge through the doggy door to get inside (an area where Sarge in particular has form). They simply happily waited at the back door to be let in.
6 months pass and it was time for a family road trip to visit Dr Belinda. Last time they had been over Reggie was so stressed about being left outside alone that the humans tried hiding on the floor in the kitchen to see if he would settle and nope, he was too panicked to calm down. He had ended up following his people around inside the whole night.
This time Sarge and Reggie head outside for a wee and play with Charlie and Elmo. Unbelievably Reggie and Sarge settle down outside, simply watching the family eat dinner through the window. No signs of stress. Happy to be outside. They are not zombies. They are happy. They are free from unrelenting anxiety and finally feel free to be themselves.