Saturday, August 25, 2012

Update on the Shady, Devil Dog

It's been about a month since I posted a blog looking for a dog whisperer and since this story has entertained and awed most of my friends, I thought I'd give my online buddies an update on my dog, Shady, who has been renamed by a friend... The Devil Dog.  Somehow it's sort of ironic that the person who writes stories about Wyatt the Wonder Dog who learns about good manners, being organized and going to kindergarten would actually own a dog who has been nicknamed Shady the Devil Dog.  All I can say in my own defense is I didn't actually pick her out.  I became her owner by default.

If you remember in my last blog about Shady, I was desperately trying to figure out what to do about her destructive anxiety prone behavior.  She has always had the same anxious, destructive nature but what used to be a once a year "OMG, I can't believe she trashed the whole bathroom/kitchen/whatever" has turned into to a once or twice a week destructive spree.  When we left off last time she had just chewed her way through the cedar siding and the insulation on my house in order to make her way back inside the house after being left in her dog pen.  Spending time in the dog pen was a last resort after she trashed most of the rooms in the house and bent up her crate so badly that leaving her in it again was hopeless.  Here's the evidence:

I called in the pros and got a couple of estimates on replacing the cedar siding and repairing the damage.  After evaluating the options, we decided to replace the siding with concrete and rock which she hopefully wouldn't be able to chew into.  In preparation for the  process, the siding was removed and replaced with Durock a concrete and webbing product.  We were sure she wouldn't be able to tear it apart.  Here was the result when she was left for a couple of hours in the pen:

Yes, you guessed it, she chewed and ripped her way right back into the house.

In the meantime, following the advice of friends I had purchased a thundershirt, a dog behavior  pheromone spray, started giving her Benadryl and leaving the television on for noise and company. I returned to work and started leaving her in the house again.  Every day I would enter the house in anticipation of scenes of destruction but I had about a week or so of respite and thought I might be on to something.  Maybe the thundershirt was a miracle cure!

I took her to Blairsville for the weekend while I launched a new venture with a friend at an antique shop.  While we were gone, I left her in the basement, in her thundershirt, doped up on Benadryl and with radio playing country music for company.  We weren't gone long but by the time we returned she had started scratching and tearing up the door frame.

This is a problem because there seems to be NOWHERE I can leave her without her doing some sort of damage.  When I left her on the screened porch at the mountain house, she torn off the siding trying to get in the house.

Then last week, I returned home from work on a slightly cloudy day when she had apparently despite Benadryl, thundershirt and blaring tv, managed to rip off most of the skirt of a chair and pulled everything within reach off the kitchen counter.  I called the vet in desperation and their suggestion was to put her back on Reconcile which she was on about 2 years ago.    It costs about $100 for a month of pills and made her so catatonic she refused to walk up and down stairs or to eat. In case it's not obvious, she needs to be able to walk in order to go outside to go to the bathroom since I can't lift a 50+ pound dog.  Somehow, I just can't reconcile myself to the expense and the side effects it caused last time.  I decided against another round of Reconcile.

I again called on the advice of friends and we decided to forget about the looks of the dog pen.  What could we do that would be cheap and durable?  Sheets of one inch plywood are now nailed on the entire wall of the house where the dog pen is, including the door frame. She spent about a week outside in the dog pen while I worked and things seemed to be going well.  Of course she tore up other stuff in the dog pen, her dog bed, the laundry basket full of dog toys (but not the toys..).  

Yesterday I arrived home from work to find that she had discovered the Achilles heel of the plywood.  In the corner, near the chain link fence post, she discovered a section where the plywood ended and another board had been bolted to the wall.  Somehow, she managed to rip the board out as well as extend the damage higher than before, tearing as before into the insulation.

We are now in the process of replacing that area with a plywood board.  Will it work?  I don't know but it does continue to provide me with lots of material for the blog.  As before, I'm open to ideas.

Want to share your dog story?  I'd love to hear it....  Bet you can't beat this one though!
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  1. Unbelievable! Devil dog, indeed! I have no dog story that could even come close to Shady's escapades. She is sure keeping you hopping and spending the dough for repairs.
    One thought, though - could an outside run be built for her that doesn't connect at all to the house? Instead of a doghouse, which she would more than likely destroy, you could cover half the fence on top and sides with plywood for shade and shelter in case of rain.
    Good luck, Lynne!

  2. @ Martha--I've considered that but... the cost is prohibitive!

  3. Hi Lynn, you really are in a spot with Shady. Sounds like she's suffering from nightmare levels of anxiety. Poor thing. Of course, poor you also.

    I've been there with an adult Carmie (sporadically) but I was able to identify her triggers and work around them. As a puppy, I dealt with aggression issues daily that even the trainer said she'd never witnessed before.

    I've been told that the answer to a lot of this is exercise...good long walks morning, noon and evening. I think it has the same impact on their chemical balance as it does on ours. I've not really been able to work that out for Carmie due to time constraints, so I'm sure you struggle with that as well.

    The other thing I do for Carmie is pray over her daily. Some people think that's terrible but... our pets are ours and God cares about us, so He also cares about what's ours. I literally lay hands on her and pray for peace and contentment every single day before I leave. As I said earlier, when she was a puppy, she had aggression issues -I had arms that were covered wrist to elbow with bruises from her attacks... that's when I started praying for her and, over time, it helped greatly.

    The biggest single change in her came after I'd really had my fill.. and the fill of many others...I was nail spitting angry, put her in her crate, SLAMMED the cage door and as much a said that I was having her put down the next morning and I meant it. I think she was about 9 months old at the time.

    I awoke that night to her whimpering -which was normal but something told me to let her out and spend some time with her. I did and we went to the living room. She sat on the sofa with me and ...there sat a very different dog. She was much better from that point on. Things were not perfect, but her behavior was much more in line with a high energy, WILLFUL, DETERMINED AND MISCHIEVOUS, puppy. That was 7 years ago.

    Carmie's aggression started after having gone to the vet to be spayed, and it lasted about 3 months. It came for no apparent reason, and stopped just as mysteriously. Looking back, I think it was a spiritual attack that God lifted when I couldn't take it any more.

    One more thing. I used to do a lot of pet sitting. One house had three German Shepherd mixes that, once everyone left the house, tore into the little things all over the house...firewood, newspaper, magazines... all the smaller, shreddable, mess making stuff. The owners warned me of the problem. For no explainable reason other than desperation (after coming back several times to several messes) I started gathering them all at the door RIGHT before (keys/purse in hand)I left. I calmly explained that I was leaving but that I'd be back, and there was really NO NEED to do any damage.

    Lynne, that worked perfectly from the very first time I did it, and every time there after. They were consistent if I was consistent. I have no idea why it worked...whether it was the fact that they actually saw me leave...(so there was no need to "look for me and become anxious when they couldn't find me"), or if it was the calm in my voice, or anything else.

    I dearly hope something in all of this helps you in some way. In the mean time, I will add both of you to my prayer list.

    God bless!

    God bless!