The Story of Effie: Forget the Ideal

October 30, 2013 | By Mellie Test

We've experienced an amazing amount of progress over the last week. Per Abby's suggested "schedule," I began allowing Ronan and Effie to have more time together playing in the yard. I'm still keeping them separate while milling around the house (as I've mentioned, our tiny rowhouse is incredibly narrow), because I know that anxiety can be heightened when crowded into a small space without room to escape).

Ways life has become easier as the dogs become more comfortable:

  • I am now walking Ronan, Stucky and Effie all at once. I'm still careful to avoid busy streets and times when there's already a lot of foot or street traffic, but being able to take everyone on a longer walk helps with their energy levels.
  • I allow Ronan and Stucky to have extended periods of play/rest in the yard. When things get too excited, I break them up, but instead of taking Effie back inside, I allow them to re-engage if they like. I'm finding they will play and rest in spurts. See the short Vine video I took on Tuesday. I don't allow all three dogs to play together yet because the energy amplifies too quickly, but being able to mix pairs has been much less stressful.
  • Effie and Stucky are able to roam freely in the house together with much less supervision. This has reduced stress because dividing up my attention took careful compartmentalization. Giving Stucky, Effie, Ronan AND my son (who has been wonderfully patient during this whole transition) equal, individual attention meant much less time to potentially relax (which is not in abundance anyway)!
  • I've been able to end the complicated routine of rotating and alternating dogs to allow yard or potty time.

The real/ideal discussion arises because this week, I'm working at the BlogPaws Conference three hours from home. Effie's only been with us for two weeks, her cortisol levels haven't yet had time to return to some sort of "normal" post-shelter-stress. I now have three dogs, can't afford pet sitting, and didn't feel comfortable giving an already generous friend the added responsibility of negotiating the current three dog dynamic.

I spoke with Abby after we adopted Effie, asking her opinion. She agreed that moving Effie to someone else's home would be added stress, and that keeping her in her new environment would be the best option. Luckily, I have a generous friend who also moved from Colorado to work with Pet360, and he agreed to stay at my house with her for the week while I found other options to care for Ronan and Stucky. To my delight, Stucky and Effie have been integrating well enough that both I and my friend felt comfortable keeping them both at home (although still separate when no one's at home)!

I found another generous friend down near the conference location who agreed to watch Ronan for the week. He created a special sign to alert his roommates to Ronan's presence:

While it may not be ideal to disrupt the progress we've already made, the realities of work, finances and responsibility (to the creatures I love) require that we all adapt. Adaptation requires flexibility and resourcefulness, and also results in deep gratitude for any help that is granted.

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