Rescue Journal

on a roll so here we go!

Carol  ·  Jan. 6, 2014

mo basically said..i don't know how you do it without your head exploding...well, there is a trick to this.

I fill my head up with questions to keep my brain gilbert is feeling? when is teddy's culture and sensitivity going to come back? what can I do to un-depress jazzy? how am I going to get capone safely into the house? does Ollie have cushings? is Curtis feeling ok? was that new totally freaked right out cat eating while she was at the spca? (yes we have a new cat,,her name is rosie, she is a PB Bengal which means she is super sensitive to start with, she is only a year old and I originally pawned her off on the spca cuz I thought she would be more likely to get a good home but she has totally flipped her lid over losing her home because she was beating up the new kitten there and became big time aggressive at the shelter because she was stressed so I took her back and now she is flipping out here)...big run on sentence and oh freaking yay. real room in there to let stupid shit ferment for too long and blow up my brain.

however...i have decided I am going to start downloading some of the stuff that I know into our staff's heads...just in case my brain one day does blow up...we will have info. back up inside 4 younger heads. we are going to start Thursday, session one... a lunch and learn (i bring lunch!) on how to connect the dots together when seeking solutions to an animal's problem.

i was telling erin today, i was watching a dog training video on a highly food aggressive dog. this dog was a perfect dog in all respects, well mannered, well trained, well socialized, well loved, a really lovely and sweet and kind dog..unless there was food involved. then she turned into a frenzied food gobbler, had special bowls to make her slow down and then she turned into a biting psycho dog protecting her food from everyone. i watched the trainer try to dominate, i watched him get bit, i watched him finally make some pretty good headway in training her to back off, wait and leave it. he looked at her bad behavior and he trained her not to do it. so a dog who attacked and bit around food was trained to be more polite and better behaved.

was the dog's problem fixed? no. the dog was rehabilitated to be somewhat safer around food but the underlying problem that drove the dog to behave as she did was still there. because no one really looked inside of her to see what was driving her to be so angry and food insane. she was a dog in perfect physical condition, her weight was medically right for her size, just a little on the lean for her frame side. but she was a lab and labs are a bit more food focused than poodles. that dog thought she did not get enough to eat, and it bothered her and it worried her and it made her anxious and finally frustratedly fearful over feeling hungry and never really fully satisfied that she got enough to eat.

and so she first started to gobble and guard her food and then she started to bite people because she thought she never got enough and was not going to risk losing any.

so how do i know this?..well maybe i am wrong, but i bet i am not. i have seen animal's who were starved either physically or just in their own minds, come here where free feeding is normal and watched them gorge. they eat and puke and eat and puke some more continually for 2 or 3 days til finally they have filled not just their stomachs enough but they filled up the gaping hole in their food frenzied minds enough that where there was never enough to yes there is enough and i am ok.

does this make i explaining it right? that every food aggressive dogs underlying problem? no it is not. but sometimes it is. the trick is to figure out why food is actually torturing them inside their heads.

i learned this from living with beagles where enough is never enough and if given a chance at some really GOOD stuff, they will eat themselves close to death. they don't know how to turn off that i NEED food switch in their brains.

do you know which breeds of dogs are more likely to be more food focused than other dogs? scent dogs..beagles, labs, spaniels, hounds. know why? because they have more than 10 times the scent cells in their highly specialized nasal smells SO much better and interesting and enticing to them.

and pugs..because they are stupid and need to eat to really understand and assimilate life...just kidding..most likely because their nasal passages are so smells are like a direct shot into the brain.

anyway..i am just saying that because a dog has a food aggression, or peeing in the house, or biting may be able to train or rehab the dog out of whatever behavior it is but training does not always solve their actual underlying problem. and sometimes you can't train the behavior out because the cause of the behavior is too deeply entrenched inside.

i think our job as their rescuers is to find what it is that drives them, that has messed up their minds, or damaged their spirits to begin with and help them to not worry or fret about it so much. mental, emotional or spiritual pain is as devastating as physical pain. severe anxiety about anything, real or perceived can break an animal apart. i know this because all i have to do is walk into the medical room today and watch rosie falling apart.

so freaking sad that her family didn't get that she was far too emotionally fragile and sensitive to deal with a new baby cat. she lost her home because of her behavior but she really lost her home because her family was blind to her pain.


heidi wagner

That's sad... Do you think it's the shelter situation or is it other animals in general. The vet here has a Bengal (she may want another one) but she also has a few other cats, dogs and horses. She is also in Mexico for an extended time.


Carol I don't work Thursdays so I will not be able to attend this passing of information lunch session :(


Poor Rosie - seems so unfair, because she was part of the the home first, but was given away when she didn't accept the new kitten. Why didn't they just give the kitten back and keep Rosie???