Originally uploaded by Big Blue Mess
For months after we first got Sam from the hound rescue folks she had a difficult time coping with separation. Sam would shake uncontrollably to the point that I thought she was having a mild seizure and wail by the door (and this was with someone staying with her). The one time we had to put her in a kennel for a long weekend, there was such a production in the vet’s lobby that I had a group of people around me all commenting on Sam’s excitement at seeing me again. The only thing I can think is that Sam, who was put up for adoption when she was four and lived with a new foster family for a bit before coming to us, was fairly insecure about where she belonged.
Almost four years later, Sam can now let one of us leave the house without a major dramatic episode at the door. She still doesn’t like it and will come softly complain with a whimper to the remaining house occupant, but she no longer sounds like the world has just abruptly ended because that door swallowed part of her family – something I think she strongly suspects.
This is all thanks to years of reliable routines. Mom goes to work, Mom comes home, Mom sits at the computer, Mom has dinner, Mom goes to bed. Repeat. Occasionally, I can slip in one new thing, like “Mom goes to Improv” without too much fuss, but the change (according to Sam) should only be one or two new things at a time otherwise her brain short-circuits. Sam even knows that if certain friends come over, we’re going to leave so in anticipation of the leaving, she’ll hop into her crate and wait for us to get on our way. She knows that if I haven’t gone to work (one of those crazy things that happens every five days or so) and Jay and I are fussing about too much, we must be about to leave, so once again she’ll hop into the crate and wait. This totally beats the paw on the head, the shaking, the throwing herself down dramatically on the floor and the wailing (beagles can really let out a whopper of a wail when required).
Lately though, we’ve had several new routines. Jay is at home more and in the computer room while I have been staying up later and our dinner time is earlier. Sam completely disapproves. She likes her routine. She understands her routine and she would like us to get back to what she knows. So, she’s appointed herself the human wrangler. If Jay is in the computer room when he clearly should be in the living room, she’ll huff at him until he gets a move-on. If I’m up past my bedtime, she’ll try to lead me out of whatever room I’m occupying then every three feet or so she’ll turn back and wait so she can cajole me into moving another three feet down the hallway. Once she’s satisfied that I’m heading in the right direction, she’ll fling herself on her dog bed in the bedroom. However, should I pause too long, she’ll come to the bedroom door, cock her head to the side and stare until I get moving towards the bedroom again. Basically, if we do it right, she’ll lay down and cuddle under her blanket. Wrong – she’ll get within 6 inches of you and huff until you move to your proper place.
That’s our Sam.