In March, 2014 my 10 year-old Pug, Smokey Joe suffered an incurable illness, euthanasia was quick and painless however, sadness from the loss cripples I am in need of rescue and what better way then to rescue a rescuer. The journey begins at the Southwest Washington Humane Society in Vancouver, Washington were assistant, Sherrie, guides me past kenneled Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, Collies, and Dobermans; noses sniff, some move excitedly about as if in a fashion show.
A kenneled yellow/white furred dog sitting attentively, ears erect, eyes forward catches my attention, “What’s the background on this dog here he appears well mannered, easy going not vying for attention.”
“His name is Fisher, he’s a Mixed Retriever, 2 years old, and weighs in at 73 pounds,” replies Sherrie continuing, “Fisher suffers from separation anxiety brought about from being confined to a small area; one day upon returning home his previous owner found that Fisher had torn through the door frame of the small room he was locked in thus winning a trip back here.”
“Wow, really,” Smokey Joe settled into his environment rather easily Fisher, on the other hand, would be an investment in time in order to overcome his affliction “OK, I understand but I have a good feeling all will work out. I’d like to adopt Fisher.”
“It won’t be easy but with time and patience Fisher will come around,” Sherrie advises as we head to the front office to fill out the necessary paperwork, she explains separation anxiety, and points out additional information online.
With a firm understanding of the affliction I begin operation separation anxiety relief with basic sit, stay, and come commands then, after mastering this the next step is: to leave Fisher home alone. The first week I am gone or five minutes each day, then week two increases to 10 minutes, in week three a bold leap forward Fisher will be alone for 30 minutes.
“Sit Fisher,” he responds as I kneel before him making eye contact and in a calm voice, “You be good now and make sure no one breaks in and I’ll be right back.” I exit the house, through the gate in the chain link fence in the backyard, and into a city park.
Thirty minutes later as I step into the backyard a prolonged mournful cry, Awoooooooooooo, greets me. Taken aback I listen but because it sounds as though drifting on the wind I cannot pinpoint its origin so I ignore and head inside and am immediately greeted with the massive front paws of Fisher breast high, moaning as if saying, where the heck have you been, I missed you!
“Down Fisher, sit. Good boy,” the palm of my hand flashes, “Stay,” then a quick check for any damage, Fisher watches. My attention is quickly drawn to the kitchen counter were a yellow coffee cup, a favorite, laid smashed, porcelain shards splintered across it, except the portion with the handle, this is intact.
Dumbfounded, I look at Fisher, still in the sit command eyes on me, then to the remains of the cup, “What the heck?”
I try to make sense of the mess, “This is deliberate, yet no one else was home with Fisher, so how?” I ponder the conundrum while looking at Fisher looking at me as if saying, yes go on.
Suddenly agasp my head rises like the morning sun, I address the yellow and white furred animal sitting at attention, “Holly canola, you grabbed the cup by the handle with your mouth and smashed it on the counter in defiance,”goosebumbs race down the spine. Then revelation, “The howling you were in distress!” I kneel in front of Fisher and scratch his ears, Bingo, right on.
I scale back on the time Fisher is unaccompanied for his sake and that of the remaining coffee cups, his anxiety gradually lessens yet, at times when I come home, he leaps chest high but the command, “Down Fisher,” then out for a long neighborhood walk. I wonder, though, did he consciously use my cup or was it just handy to drive home the point of being home alone?