Saturday, July 10, 2010

Molly and Me ~ Part Two

Molly and Jake were getting separated, the final decision had been made. My ex-husband and I were finally getting a divorce and despite all the difficult decisions we had to make, the most gut retching decision was what to do with Molly and Jake. It is still hard for me to try and explain that decision to people. Dog lovers especially do not understand how we could split them up after several years of having them live together. It was complicated and personal but the bottom line was, if they stayed together, one of us would have had to give them both up and in all reality, it was not feasible for either of us at that time to manage both dogs on our own. Once we realized this, the decision came down to which dog was going with which parent. Both dogs were equally attached to each of us it seemed. In all honesty, Jake had my heart more...he really did. However I knew my ex husband wouldn't survive without Jake. Jake was probably the only real friend he had left in the world and despite all the resentment and anger surrounding the divorce, I knew that Jake living with him was the right thing to do. I also knew that most likely once the dogs and the two of us were split, there would be no further contact. To this day, I still mourn him.

So Molly and I moved out to an apartment and started over. I can think of few times in my life that I have ever been as overwhelmed. I had lost my job due to a significant illness, gotten divorced, sold my home, and moved. I was struggling physically and financially. Every day was a challenge to keep a positive attitude and not be swallowed up the enormity of it all. Apparently, I was not the only one who was having a difficult transition. Although I did anticipate that the transition might be a little difficult for Molly, I was in no way prepared for how overwhelmed she would be. Those concerns about separation anxiety my ex husband and I had initially when thinking about adopting her, all of a sudden came out like a force of nature.

She completely fell apart within twenty-four hours of moving to the apartment. I am talking total puppy melt down. Within the first two trips (each lasting maybe an hour) I took out of my apartment after the move, she had gone completely insane. In our old home, we crated the dogs, each in a separate crate. For months before the move, we even moved each dog's crate into a separate room in preparation for the transition. Now, she couldn't tolerate her crate. She would howl/bark and hurt herself trying to get out. I tried everything. I mean after all, I had gone through this with Jake when we first got him. I used every behavioral technique I had used with him; which had worked. I even brought her to the vet who put her on a low dose of medication. I would come home to find her pacing, drooling, crying, blinds destroyed from her trying to escape out of the windows. She lost thirteen pounds because she was too anxious to eat. Even if I was home, she was always stalking me and anxious, wondering when I would leave her alone again. She would try and anticipate my every move; even walking across the street to the mailbox would set her off. Overnight my feisty independent girl became a completely different dog.

I was concerned about getting kicked out of the apartment. I had spent a lot of time finding the right place for both of us. It was a dog friendly farmhouse with a yard and plenty of room inside for her to roam around. If we couldn't make it work at this place, it just wasn't going to work anywhere. I only had one neighbor and a business next door, but they could hear her anytime I left the apartment. The barking and howling would start within five minutes of my departure. It was anxiety provoking for me when I left because I was so worried she would do something to seriously harm herself. Separation anxiety in dogs is usually progressive. If not appropriately treated, the behavior escalates and dogs have been known to do serious bodily damage to themselves, as well as to their environment. In addition to that, it was so clear to me how much she was suffering. It was like she was having a massive panic attack every time she was alone.

After about a month of this, it was getting to be more than I could handle. Getting myself to doctor appointments, tests, etc. was getting more and more difficult. She looked sickly. My vet at that time was not much help. Everything I tried failed. I remember coming home after going for some blood work to find her howling, shaking, pacing, and drooling. I literally sat on the floor with her that day, held her, and cried. I didn't know what to do. I did not want to give her up, yet this was no way to live for either one of us. I could not give her the home she needed. She needed a home with lots of people around or some type of rescue. Getting another dog was out of the question. I was fortunate enough to have family members, friends, and people I could hire on occasion to stay with her so I could get out but it was not a realistic, permanent solution financially or otherwise. As I was sitting on the floor with her and all these thoughts were running through my head, realization hit me head on. I had lost so much. She had lost so much. We were not going to lose each other...

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