The Story of Effie: Restart Recharge Renew

October 30, 2013 | By Mellie Test

I finally returned from the BlogPaws Conference after nearly five days away. A friend and his roommate stayed at our Conshohocken rowhouse to care for Effie and Stucky (hoping to disrupt Effie's integration as little as possible), while another friend down in Virginia "test-drove" pet parenting by watching Ronan. I missed my babies terribly, but luckily had hundreds of pets swarming the conference for cuddling opportunities.

[caption id="attachment_810" align="alignright" width="150"] An exhausted Ronan[/caption]

Last night, my son and I finally returned with Ronan in tow. The second we entered the door, Effie and Ronan became tense and I preemptively took Ronan into the backyard while we made some food. Honestly, he seemed the most shaken up of the three. Perhaps because Effie and Stucky had had each other as well as familiarity with their own home. Ronan, on the other hand, experienced a complete (and most likely rather jarring) shift into a foreign environment instead of being comforted by a kid, by me, by his dog siblings, and by his home. He seemed bewildered and oddly uneasy, clinging to my side when I brought him back in the house. He passed out on the sofa, exhausted, quickly after coming indoors.

I'll admit I was afraid it was a sign of a major setback, but since this morning, things seem to be on an upswing. Of course other "setbacks" have shown up, as Effie began urinating and defecating in the house more frequently during our absence. I attribute that to the shift in routine, as she wasn't being taken for walks, or kept upstairs for regular intervals during the day. I'm looking at the PSPCA low-cost veterinary clinic in case she seems to be developing a UTI, but for now, I believe she's just trying to adjust to some semblance of schedule.

[caption id="attachment_811" align="alignright" width="150"] Effie and Ronan playing INdoors[/caption]

In terms of "setbacks," I also noticed that Effie's returned to jumpiness during our walks (we've had two walks with all three dogs already today). She's barking and lunging toward any people and pets in sight. Of course, I'm not blaming her. She's dealt amazingly well already. It's officially been three weeks since we found her, and for a third of her adopted time she's had to adapt to an entirely new set of caretakers as well as timing. She deserves some credit!

To combat that, we're still walking only on streets with low foot, bike and car traffic. The bike path, as we established early on, is not an option. Taking precautions instead of throwing her into stressful situations will allow the integration to remain smooth.

Despite feeling the need to reset and "start from scratch," we've actually retained and even continued progress in terms of two-dog integration. Effie ans Stucky cohabitated without a hitch during our absence, and this morning, Ronan and Effie were playing nicely INdoors. Meaning the small size of our living room and narrowness of our rowhouse halls was no longer causing them anxiety. I kept watch, and noticed that they cycled in and out of wrestling and racing sessions, culminating in a nearly side-by-side nap.

Forward momentum renewed!

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