What a difference three weeks makes.
Two weeks into single dog-parenthood and I was starting to panic about Archie’s nervousness. While he loved other dogs he was scared of new people, and hated being left alone. In the first week he earned his ‘velcro puppy’ nickname, following me from room to room and crying if I even went to the bathroom without him. After three days glued together I left him at home for just half an hour and came home to a howling dog and distressed little pees all over the hallway floor. He was distraught, and so was I.
Staying home all day to keep him company wasn’t an option. Someone has to earn the money to keep him in dog food and Kong toys, and since I’m his only parent that someone has to be me. I am so grateful to my friends for helping out with dog sitting that week, and to all the advice we got from Harriet Alexander (http://www.harrietalexander.co.uk). But I still felt overwhelmed, and worried. Thankfully Mum came to the rescue, all the way from Aberdeen to rescue us. Turned out we both needed the help.
Archie was hugely stressed by all the changes in his life. That’s probably unsurprising, given that he’s moved to a new home, with a new owner (me), and no little doggie friend. But I don’t think his separation anxiety is nearly as serious as all my Googling had led me to worry. Now that he’s more settled he’s much calmer.
Mum forced me to go out and leave him for a full hour last Sunday, the longest he’d ever been left. I was a bundle of anxiety, forcing down a coffee and practically jogging home, but Archie was totally fine. No pees, no howling. He’d apparently been making himself at home on the sofa (he’s not allowed on the furniture) but didn’t seem distressed at all. While I was at work Mum took Archie out for daily socialisation walks around the busier parts of town, and left him home alone, with a bone to chew and the TV on for company, for increasingly longer periods of time. By the end of the week he was fine being left for as much as two and a half hours (the longest Mum could manage to entertain herself in Waitrose and Costa). Unthinkable in week one. I’m delighted, and so relieved.
When we move to Brussels in a few weeks I’ll have a much shorter commute, and Archie will have a daily dog walker so won’t have to go more than four hours at a time by himself, and I’m confident now that he’ll be ok. Once he’s more relaxed around people I’ll be able to take him to the pub too (and, I’m reliably informed, pretty much any restaurant in Brussels). I can’t wait.
He’s come a really long way. We’ve settled into a happy little routine together. I’m delighted to see more puppy behaviour coming out as he settles in, together with a more spirited (and wilful) spaniel personality. I’ve grudgingly conceded the battle of the bedroom (he’s allowed to sleep in the bedroom, but definitely not in the bed). We even took a short ride on the tube together. I was concerned that he’d be distressed but against all expectations seemed to quite enjoy himself, as long as the other passengers kept their distance. A busy Paddington station was less fun, but a big step for a small dog.
Thanks so much to Nana for all her help. I’m sure Archie can’t wait to see her again, and meet the rest of the family, at Christmas.