Separation anxiety has reared its nasty dragon head once more. I don’t understand what happened. Everything had been going so well!
Thankfully, Shiva is still okay with being left alone in the house. She doesn’t like it, but she can deal. The only sign of anxiety at home comes in the form of a blanket just a little too bunched up in the corner of her crate. At least we haven’t had a setback in that area.
Our problems now lie solely when leaving her alone in the car. We don’t do this very often – which could be the reason for her distress. Since we are now in warmer weather, we don’t do it at all. Last night was the first time in a long time and it was heart-breakingly difficult to walk away.
After a fun trip to the dog park, we decided to head to a pet store to check out the cats available in the adoption centre. The temperatures have been particularly un-summer-like lately. The weather application on my phone said it was fifteen degrees around seven-thirty. Not a warm night for August. We could have brought her in with us but Shiva gets so over-stimulated in new environments. If we actually wanted to pet the cats, it would be better to leave her in the truck. Since it was cool, we wouldn’t be gone for more than five minutes, and Shiva had just spent an hour playing with other dogs at the park, I thought nothing of leaving her with some kibble.
She started freaking out as we turned into the parking lot. Not that this is anything new. Every time we pull into a parking lot, no matter where, her stress levels go up ten notches. Most of the time we are even planning on taking her with us. But the sight of a paved area filled with cars is such a huge trigger she can’t focus. Food does not even seem to help comfort her. A few weeks ago, her parking lot anxiety was so intense, she bolted as soon as I opened the door. There went Shiva, zooming across a busy lot, bee-lining for an even busier road.
She almost did the same thing last night but luckily my PH’s reflexes are better than mine. We got her back in the car, tossed in a couple handfuls of food for her to sniff out, and headed toward the store.
That’s when the howling commenced. Every foot step I took away from her was almost physically painful. I knew I couldn’t look back; I knew ignoring her was for her own benefit. But all I wanted to do was rush back and cry along with her.
It wasn’t always this way. She had been doing so much better! Last year she had almost no problems being left alone in the car for short periods. She seemed happy with her toys and her food-searching game. Sure, a few of my jackets were chewed. Sometimes the interior of the truck didn’t look so pretty. But we didn’t have this painful howling. This sound of a dog being beaten. I don’t know what has caused the relapse.
The biggest evidence for Shiva totally losing her shit? When we got back to the truck, there was still a pile of kibble on the floor. She had been too crazed to eat. I felt pretty much like the worst dog owner in the world at that point.
It looks like we’re going to have to go back to the beginning with this. Or just never leave her alone in the car again. One of the two.