The Dodmans Get A New Dog

Nick Dodman & Rusty

Last Sunday I was just about to tee off on the first hole at Westborough golf course when my cell phone rang.  “Hello,” my wife, Linda, said, “the children and I are at Bay Path Shelter in Hopkinton and think we have found the perfect dog.”
“That’s great,” I replied, “can we talk about this later when I get home and then we go to see the dog together on Monday?”
“’Fraid not,” Linda replied. “You see, we have to take him now or someone else will. He’s eight months old and really a neat dog. You’ll love him.”
My colleagues were getting impatient that I was on the phone so I had to leave it there.
“I trust you to do the right thing,” I said, “but I must go now. Catch you later.”
The round of golf went well and I made my way home wondering whether I would be greeted by a new friend.  As I crept in the back door, I saw the tip of a red tail wagging slowly around the corner. My daughter ran up to me and said, “We got him. His name is Rusty; come and see him.”
I walked into the kitchen to a sea of smiling faces, including Rusty’s. His first reaction on seeing me was to run around dribbling urine over the wood floor.  “It’s only excited urination,” my wife explained.
Hmm. I thought.
Rusty sure was a nice dog.  Weighing in at about 40lbs, he was a deep reddish brown color, not unlike a Rhodesian ridgeback but without a ridge. People friendly, cheery, lots of energy, Rusty was everyone’s favorite.
“Hi Rusty,” I said, leaning toward him to pet him. He peed and smiled back at me. Submissive urination, I thought. Hmm …
To make Rusty feel more at home, we all spent a lot of time playing with him and toys abounded. Later he chowed down on some kibble and then ran to join my wife or daughter for company. In fact, I noticed, he never left their side. A bit of a Vecro dog, I thought. I wonder if he has separation anxiety? He sure has the right disposition for it.  Hmm …
That night he slept in my daughter’s room and all was well. She took him for a walk the next morning and they arrived back just as I was about to leave for work. Rusty’s eyes glowed in admiration when he clapped eyes on me and, you guessed it, he peed. Following my own recommendations, I did not react and we cleaned up the mess.

Later that day, my wife tried putting Rusty in an oversized crate for a few minutes, just to see how he would react. You guessed it, he howled. Rusty could not stand to be crated or left alone. He had claustrophobia, barrier frustration, whined, yelped, tried to escape – all signs of separation anxiety. My wife told me not to worry, that she would handle it and that all he needed was to settle in.  I was not so sure but she was in charge (I’m only in charge at work).  Over the next few days she coaxed Rusty into the crate using treats and toys and even climbed in with him. Eventually she even managed to close the door without him panicking, but she had to sit really close to him so he could see her. That’s about where we are right now.

Rusty’s submissive urination and excited urination has settled down a lot and he is acting more confidently lately. Yesterday my “little” son, Danny, dog sat while Linda went to the barn to see her horse. Rusty took off to some other part of the house and entertained himself.  Maybe he is turning around. He sure is a nice dog, as most dogs with separation anxiety are. I sure hope he can be left alone one day otherwise we will become (as is the title of one of my book chapters) “Prisoners in our own home.”  Rusty could even become another “Dog Who Loved Too Much.” Mercy me. Formerly the president of the hair club for men, I am now a sufferer. But Rusty really is a super dog and we never give up on any pets so he’s here to stay, whatever. My wife has even agreed to let me treat Rusty if she can’t fix him. I sure hope she can.  Either way our lives have changed and so has Rusty’s. He really is a lucky dog who has fallen on his feet. Now is only he could learn to stand on his own four feet we would be all set.  I will share more of this exciting development later.  Till then mega woofs from Rusty and the Dodmans.