we couldn’t help her. I hope someone can.

Now we have one less dog. I finally gave in and took Molly back to the animal shelter. Who knew, when we adopted the incredibly quiet, calm dog last April, that she’d turn out to be an anxiety-ridden, learning disabled mess?

She completely flunked the doggy intelligence test we administered, so I think she’s not so much resistant to training as she is unable to comprehend what we want. Her attention span is also very short. She’s clingy, and multiple times per day she panics for no reason, panting and shaking and scratching and trying desperately to climb whatever is nearby — including people, computers, counters, beds, and walls. This is all so different from her behavior when we adopted her that I think she must have waited until she felt comfortable in our home before exhibiting her true characteristics.

And her reward for being herself? Frustration and ill-concealed anger from us, banishment to the garage (where on one thunderstormy night, she ripped through the drywall) — and lots of love and affection when she was able to accept it. I have to think we gave her as warm and comfortable and loving a home as a dog could get, but it wasn’t enough.
She followed us from room to room all day, patiently lying down in each new spot to be sure she knew where we were at all times. And then the cats would run too loudly upstairs, or raindrops would fall, or some invisible and inaudible disturbance would invade her peace, and the panic would begin. It’s impossible to work with a 35-pound dog trying with all her strength to push her way under your desk and climb onto the tiny space at the top of the computer tower — and trying again, and again, and again, no matter how many times you move her away or say “off” or “no.” It’s impossible to sleep when a storm panics her so completely that she jumps on the bed and tries to climb — where? There’s nowhere to go, but she still tried to scale the bedposts.

Finally it was enough. We can’t give her what she needs. I don’t even know what she needs — or whether anyone or any environment can help her calm down and be at peace. I hope the animal shelter can find her a new and better home, using the copious notes I left as a guide for a new owner. I feel sad and guilty, mostly because I’m humanizing her reaction and thinking of her wondering what she did wrong. I did what was best for us; I don’t know what’s best for her.

One response to “we couldn’t help her. I hope someone can.

  1. Pingback: more than the sum of my parts » Blog Archive » do I have “Animal Shelter” stamped on my forehead?

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