Friday, July 22, 2016

The Puzzle About Stella Is Finished

That puzzle being what is the cause of Stella's separation anxiety at almost 7 years old.

The final piece of the puzzle on Stella's separation anxiety was delivered late last night from a message on Facebook to me from Stella's original owner. The reasons of her separation anxiety are really clear now. I can now explain the reasons for Stella's two issues. 

Before I start I want to say in no way do I place any blame on Stella's previous owners. As you all know things happen in life and sometimes results cannot be controlled by the changes that life brings. I am fortunate that the previous owners have been helping me trying to solve her separation anxiety issue.

So on to her two issues and reasons for them. One of those being the destruction she does only some of the times I am gone (abandonment). Second the reason for her "frantic" attempts to escape the room I leave her and Sadie in when I away from home. (claustrophobic)


During the discussions I had with Stella's current owner last August 2015, I was told she had severe separation anxiety and was terrified of thunderstorms. In the past I had different hounds with those same issues, although they were different hounds. It was good to know that before hand but they were also something I thought I could fix if I decided to take Stella.


I thought a solution to her issues would be me giving her a home where I am home 99.9% of the time, day and night ... plus she would have another bloodhound (Sadie) to keep her company.


Those have helped her I believe but at the same time, when the causes are so deep rooted, it takes time to totally eliminate them and even then there is a chance she will always have those two issues.


By the first thunderstorm of last year I found out that she was NOT terrified of storms. I knew what terrified looked like from my first basset hound Harry. He would start hours before any storm would show up with constant pacing, howling, whining, trying to dig his way out of the house, or to craw in the 2" space (yes, inches) to get under the couch. The times storms arrived while I was at work Harry would also destroy things and at times even worse than Stella has ever done.


So when Stella whined very little as she walked over to me during her first storm with us I didn't think her fear of storms was that terrible. She paced a little but in her normal slow, one leg joint at a time ... in slow motion. Then she would eventually lay down and sleep through loud thunder and lightning with no problem.


At the time in August 2015 from what I was told, I would be her 3rd owner within her 6 years of age. That later proved to be wrong, as I am her 4th owner in her first 6 years. That info didn't bother me but it also helped me find the answer to one of her issues of what I call "abandonment" ... even when I might be gone from the house for as little as 15 minutes.


When Stella's original owner moved from a farm to a city, from open farmland to privacy fenced in neighborhoods, the family living conditions initially didn't allow Stella to move with them. On a temporary basis, Stella was given to her brother to keep until the family would buy a place that had enough room for Stella.

That took a year to do. I am not sure how many times the original owner came back to visit Stella, nor do I know how far away her brother lived from the original owner, but I get the impression the original owner did not visit her very much. It was like Stella had been given away to a new family.


That explains why from the first minute I brought her home, she didn't leave my side no matter where I went in the house. I was told "she is claiming you" telling the other hounds I have that "you are hers". Over the 11 months I have had her that has improved a lot where now she and Sadie hang out together all the time, yet there are times she doesn't leave the room I am in.

So that to me explains this "abandonment" feeling she has.


That feeling and reaction continued after the original family brought her to the city to live with them again. She did not forget what happened when they left her, therefore every time this couple would leave her for the day as they worked their jobs ... Stella would go crazy because they were gone.


Somewhere around her 5th year, the original family thought she would be better if she were back in a farm environment, so she was given to a friend that lived on a huge farm and had other dogs to play with. They had plenty of land to run on. That is where I picked her up in August 2015.


Even then, with other dogs to keep her company, and as much if not more land than i have here including the field ... Stella would go crazy when they left the house and were gone all day at work. With new doors having lever handles, Stella could and still can on my one and only door handle like that ... open the door and escape outside. While they were gone she would escape the house. They lived on a country road with a fairly good amount of traffic but much further away than what I live here next to a highway.


So they decided to kennel her during the day while they were gone. They researched the internet for a good inside kennel that they would keep in their large garage. They bought the largest and strongest, recommended by the store and were told it would handle a hound of Stella's size.


This is where her issues of feeling "claustrophobic" come in, that she still has today even in a room the size of 12'x15' and at times inside of my house while I mow the yard.


From the photos the owner sent me before I decided to pick her up, she destroyed that large black indoor kennel and basically was strong enough to break open the door lock attachments and the curled heavy wire loops that connected the walls of the kennel ... and would escape.


Multiple clips were added as reinforcements, similar to the clips at the end of a dog leash. Once again she would bust her way out of that kennel from the inside. If she was left in the garage on her own without the kennel, she would get into things, such as car oil.

They decided she needed to be re-homed after escaping the kennel, opening the door handle to get inside their new house ... then opening the door handle lever to let her and another dog outside ... these two dogs met the owner down by the mailbox next to that busy country road when the owner came home from work. They were out of ways of trying to keep her safe while they were working during the weekdays.


So what is the "final piece of the puzzle" ????


While living with the brother temporarily, she lived outside in the standard wire kennel you are familiar with. I am not sure of the size but you've seen them ... chainlink, maybe 6'x6' or 8'x10' ... then having a dog house to sleep in while staying outside all 4 seasons, through storms, snow, and wind. There could have been possible tornado type winds as there were a few tornadoes that passed through that area in previous springs.


During one very bad storm A TREE ... not a tree limb ... but A TREE blew down over her kennel and her dog house ... a terrible experience for any dog. Luckily she was unhurt but a very traumatic experience . After that of course ... she was terrified of thunderstorms or any other loud type noses. (she jumps when she hear gunshots).


After showing my friend last night the information I received about Stella's terrible experience and a very close call to being killed or hurt ... she had the exact answer and the same one I thought of as I went to sleep last night.


And I quote --- "So it seems to me that her trauma was being confined in a small space that she couldn't escape from as a tree crashed down on her and not a fear of lightning. Might be why she wants to escape from the confines of the bedroom (small space) when you are away. Claustrophobic triggered by separation."


That explains it all ... "Claustrophobic triggered by separation"


It is such a relief to finally know more of what happened to Stella in her past and confirms why she goes crazy, with destruction at times, not all the time ... trying to get out of the bedroom or even the house when I let her run the house while I mow the yard. I only leave them in the house while I mow when it is too hot outside ... like recently.


It explains the times she goes from room to room to look out the window when I take the walk down the driveway to the mailbox. I cannot explain why sometimes I can be gone for only 15 minutes and she goes crazy compared to being gone a few times 3-4 hours and come home to zero damage from her.


Yet, everything is explained now and why she does what she does is much more clear.


She is a great bloodhound. I will never give her away no matter what she does. What issues she does have are no way her fault. I only see her getting better and better as time passes on, just like Sadie did. Only Stella has had to start her path to improvement a few years later in life than Sadie did.

If you read this far, thanks for wading through the long explanation.

On a side note many of you received a notice that I had posted a new blog post yesterday only to arrive at the blog to see that post had been removed. It wasn't serious. It was just the case of me making a post and later deciding I didn't want to blog publicly ... something I have been trying to get through again this past week or so. In this case I thought you might like to know a little more on the 'why' of Stella's separation anxiety.

All is good in 'the tropics' of Southern Indiana.

10 comments:

  1. Beautiful pups ! So glad Stella has you this time. Family !

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    1. Thank you. They are quite the pair, funny personalities, get along great with each other.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you. Actually I am the lucky one as they make life here in rural southern Indiana a lot more exciting sometimes. LOL

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  3. You are such a great Dad to yours hounds! Glad you have been given information that helps you understand her better. 😊

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    1. Thank you. It does feel better knowing what happened since it was so hard to figure out. Luckily the previous two owners were cooperative in trying to find out what happened to her.

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  4. This info just makes me love Stella even more....She is a survivor and you are her savior. Thank you for sharing this and for being Stella's person. She finally found her pack.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, after hearing the story of the tree, her facial expressing when I was talking to her was even better. I remember the first minute she was introduced to Heidi, Winston and Sadie last August ... I knew then she had found her pack.

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  5. Not much to add to what Kelly wrote so perfectly. I'm certain that you feel relieved to have answers. Now it's time to get on with enjoying each other and every day as it comes.

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    1. That feeling of relief is even better a day later. You are right about enjoying the hounds and every day in the future.

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