To Hell and Back

Molly-with-muzzleMiss Molly G Hound redeems herself.  We both went to Hell and back last weekend.  I started feeling unwell last Friday.  The morning was not too good but I was (just about) muddling through.  I left Molly in the shop whilst I went to post a letter.  Only about 5 minutes out of the shop, and Miss Molly had been in the window (displaying herself of course!).  She had climbed up on a painted (upcycled) G Plan coffee table which had been lovingly done in chalk paint with floral design on the top.  BIG scratches all over!  Urgh! I’ll worry about it another day but it will have to be refurbished.  By the afternoon I could not cope with the slight disorientation and lack of cognitive ability. The increasing pain in my tummy did not help matters.  I shut up shop and went home.  I knew what was happening to me.  I had been there before.  I recognised the signs as a bout of the recurring renal colic or a UTI.  Water intake upped.  Friday night I started feeling quite nauseous as well as the pain increasing.  I decided to sleep upstairs on the chair bed rather than disturb my guests with my frequent loo trips especially as Miss Molly always likes to accompany me.  Molly enjoyed me sleeping upstairs as she slept on the sofa whilst I was on the floor; on the chair bed of course, which was quite comfy.  Sleep for me was another matter though.

I  had visitors all weekend, who luckily managed to deal with things for themselves.  Miss Molly G Hound was another matter.  I could not let her do her own activities and food preparations.  Heavens above, there would be no food left in any of the cupboards and no wee bunnies scuttering across the fields at the top of Kirrie Hill!  Miss Molly also does not cater for others so I’d be going without too.

Saturday saw an increase in all the symptoms so I took to eating raw garlic for its antibiotic properties.  Anyone who has ever chewed on raw garlic cloves will understand just how unpalatable the taste and sensation in the mouth is.  Nevertheless, it had to be done.  How could I get to the GP on a Saturday and what would I do will Miss Molly?  Self medication the natural way was the only solution I could contemplate.  That also meant that somehow I had to make a trip to the co-op for several cartons of cranberry juice.  Usually I am quite good at project management and risk assessment.  With a reduction in cognitive function there was never going to be a successful outcome on this task.  I decided that I would leave The Hound home alone for a few minutes whilst I popped across the road to the local Co-op for said cartons of cranberry juice.  After all, I had left her briefly once before and no damage had occurred.  On that occasion I was fully fit so managed it in a very short space of time.  This time though I had difficulty in walking as well as thinking.  Miss Molly’s walks were reduced in length and frequency during this period – 4 short walks instead of the usual 6 consisting of 1 up to an hour and 5 of 20-30 minutes).  So Miss Molly was left home alone for about 15 minutes.  She did not have her muzzle on and had free range of the sitting room.  My brain worked enough for me to realise that if I shut the doors then she could not get into the kitchen nor downstairs into the bedrooms.

Miss Molly G Hound let me down.  I let Miss Molly down too by not putting in place proper procedures to ensure her needs were met and my home was safe.  Molly had ripped up the carpet by the sitting room door and had taken a bite (or two) at the panelled door.  The door can be repaired with wood filler and repainting.  Another refurbishment task and one that will probably mean glossing the skirtings and other doors too.  The carpet cannot be made good without cutting out a strip from somewhere else to replace the destroyed area.  Not a solution that solves the issue completely as I would be left with a bare strip of flooring elsewhere.  It will need to be re-carpeted at some point in the future when the risk of Molly damage reduces.

Saturday was indeed the worst day ever.  I couldn’t function as a proper human being.  I slept off and on during the day on the sitting room floor (chair bed comfort of course).  I didn’t eat much and drank copious amounts of water alternated with cranberry juice.  Miss Molly spent most of the day being a couch potato, which she wasn’t used to.  There was a lack of stimulation for the poor Hound.  Her sniff times were restricted when out; it was pee, poo and home on each walk.  Her outings were a boring trip to the grassy bank in the next street.  All of this must have made Miss Molly feel very insecure indeed.  On reflection what probably made it worse for her was not only having her Human malfunctioning but was having other people in and out of the house.  Did she think that maybe she was being moved on again?  Who knows what goes on in a Hound’s head.

Saturday night was one of very little sleep and frequent trips to the loo.  Sunday morning saw me manage to make breakfast and converse a little with guests before they went out.  There was no way though that I could tackle any art work in the studio Sunday afternoon.  More raw garlic and cranberry juice plus plenty of rest for me.  Miss Molly enjoyed all the extra cuddles on the sofa.  All this change of routine must have been unsettling her though as she urinated on the carpet a couple of times.

Monday morning came round and although I did not feel completely back on form, I felt well enough to go into work.  Bit too soon though because I just felt so washed out.  Miss Molly enjoyed being back in the shop again though.  She loves people and if she can get away with it she will launch herself at them putting her two front paws on their chest or shoulders.  I can usually get to her before she does this but not always.  Monday morning was a ‘not always’ day.  In fact it was a not at all day.  Twice two shop visitors were pounced on and they both froze in the doorway giving Molly an escape route straight out into a fairly busy one way street. Thankfully she did not make that choice.  My reaction times were still on the slow side.  I needed an outlet for my self-pity and emotional struggles.  I called a couple of family members, Miss Molly’s foster carer and the SGS.  I felt quite distraught about how things were turning out.  The Hound and I were just not on the same wavelength anymore.  A battle of wills had begun and the bridges that had been built between us were quickly being washed away in a tide of destruction.  Things could not go on like this.

It was only fair to let SGS know that Miss Molly would have another week or so to prove herself redeemable or she would be returned.  I felt drained of all energies.  I felt quite emotional about this whole situation.  It was by no means an easy phone to make and no doubt a difficult phone call for SGS to handle.  Here we had a situation that was very much looking like a failed adoption.  Miss Molly G Hound lay quietly in the background listening to this phone call.  A dog behaviourist was recommended.  A little too late perhaps? Would there be a successful change in a short period of time?  Doubts crept in.  Sadness overwhelmed me.  A sense of failure as well as doom and gloom settled in my heart.  I shut up the shop at lunchtime and headed home.  I had had enough of the day and wished for a sleep that see me feeling refreshed and a dawn to a new day.

Tuesday came around soon enough.  I felt much better and was able to do more, including thinking clearly for the first time in a few days.  Miss Molly presented as a much happier and less anxious hound. A dog behaviourist called me and spent time listening to the issues then giving advice on what strategies to try with Miss Molly.  She also made arrangements to come to see Molly and I on Thursday.  We had Wednesday to get through on our own first though.

Wednesday saw some huge improvements.  I applied the advice given the previous day and immediately started to see positive progress with the behavioural pattern of Miss Molly.  The advice and my ability to focus more seemed to be working a treat.  We had a perfect day on Wednesday.  So many Hound and Human pleasures were shared and enjoyed.

Thursday Miss Molly behaved impeccably when the behaviourist and her partner were with us.  Home and work environments and scenarios were discussed and strategies for both places agreed upon.  Solutions were being found.  Miss Molly was presenting herself once more as the adorable Miss Molly G Hound extraordinaire.

Yesterday (Friday) was the day of falling in love all over again.  Hound and Human working together in compatible mode.  Miss Molly has so many more restrictions put on her but she is thriving on these and is becoming so much more manageable in all situations.  She is learning her commands quickly and we are sharing so many happy moments together again.  I’m not saying the transformation is complete.  Far from it as Miss Molly is confident enough to keep testing and pushing those boundaries.  That is a good sign though.

Reflection is something I am used to doing, particularly with previous career.  Being a self-employed artist has not changed that part of my nature.  I still reflect. My reflections on the events of this last week have brought me to the conclusion that Miss Molly felt totally insecure and anxious over her Human not being able to take command of every day decisions etc.  She must also have felt, with people visiting the home and shop , that perhaps one of these people would be taking her away again.  After all, I made a couple of visits to her and her fosterer then took her away forever on that third visit.  If I were in Miss Molly’s paws I probably would have been feeling very vulnerable and insecure too.

So what has been put in place to stop Armageddon from occurring? Miss Molly spends a great deal more time in the Hound Cave (Molly’s Den) safely behind bars whilst I get on with housework or preparing meals etc.  She also spends much more time with her muzzle on indoors to stop the chewing.  She loves her den and these restrictions does not seem to have put her off from going in there.  Hound hugs with visitors are not being allowed and are being dealt with before they happen.  I’ve also stopped Molly from sleeping on her own upstairs on the sofa (her choosing) whilst I sleep downstairs in bed.  I have come to realise that the couple of nights she did this previously, when she would wander up and downstairs checking I was still there in bed, was building up her anxiety.  The ‘checking’ was really pacing and this behaviour was, in my opinion, causing her to feel more anxious and insecure.  I am also investing in a crate for her.  I will use this for her at night in my bedroom which is preparation for our big journey south in July for the family gathering and visiting of friends I have not seen for a couple of years.  Two weeks of travelling, camping, staying with family and friends, meeting old friends (but new ones for Miss Molly).  A lot for a new member of the family to take on board.  The crate will be her ‘safe place’ in all of these new, and potentially unnerving, experiences.

And all is well that ends well.  Miss Molly and I are very much in love once more.  I lead, she follows and we are well on our way to reaching our longed for utopia.