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Thread: Grieving Pyr

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Linsul's Avatar

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    Hello all! It's been forever but life has been happening in a BIG way in the time since I originally posted when Ahsoka was a puppy. We got her at 7 weeks because she was abandoned with a litter that my friends mom took in. She's grown up absolutely perfect. As far as "life happening" goes, she's been a flawless feature.

    The reason I'm writing this is because the dog she grew up with, Anakin (black lab), passed away a few weeks ago. It was right after boarding them, so we had a necropsy done on Anakin and it was dilated cardiomyopathy. She was nearly 13yrs old and Ahsoka has been with her all her life since we got her. I let both of them out early and got my kids to school, saw them running together and Anakin do her roll in the grass and all that was normal. When I got back Ahsoka was laying with her, not normal. They usually take up little sentry areas of the yard and only join up to bark after their initial run and wrestle. So that's how all that happened.

    The initial 2 days after Ahsoka would only eat if I sat with her. She's raw fed but never been really food motivated. She's capable of taking forever to eat and doesn't inhale it. After the third day she ate on her own and seemed really into it, and she's stayed practically on top of me. I brought her everywhere I could and have been keeping her busy.

    She's been a LOT less tolerant of other dogs though, and since dog friendly places are where I take her, that's no good. The first time I thought it was just because she was around a puppy that had bad butt sniffing manners. A whip around and growl. Last night at Hollywood Feed she lunged at another dog that hadn't done anything but exist. We left and took her to the lakeside trail area nearby and she was fine, but again, lunging at other leashed dogs. Regardless of size or distance away. If she could see them she was acting up. She used to ignore everything that wasn't begging to be noticed and just be.

    I'm wondering if I'm doing her harm bringing her out at this point if she's feeling fragile. I don't want this attitude to set in as permanent. When she does it I don't freak out or yank on her, we just move along, with apologies if necessary to the other dogs owner. Any advice on how to deal with this?

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    I am so very sorry to hear about your family's loss.

    I am also very sorry to hear that Ahsoka is having a difficult time adjusting to the loss of her older sister. I am certainly no expert, but to me, it sounds like she could possibly have been traumatized by the awful events of that morning, as well.

    Provided that she is comfortable staying home alone, I think it is a good idea to try giving her some quiet time at home, and see how she does. The behavior you describe indicates that she is uncomfortable meeting new dogs right now. That could be a product of grief, trauma, or an emerging insecurity as she realizes that she is now the lead dog in the house, and no longer has Anakin to protect her. When (and if) she seems ready to try venturing out into the world again, I would first try taking her somewhere new, and taking her there during a time when it is not as likely to be crowded. Also, I would consider taking her either to an open-air event, or a larger store, to avoid her getting the sense that she is being closed in. I would be armed with a pouch full of irresistibly delicious treats, and try to make the outing as rewarding and pleasurable as possible. If her body language starts to indicate that she is becoming overwhelmed, or just not into it, I would put her in the car and bring her home. No matter what, I would make it a point to set aside some Ahsoka TLC time each day - whether it be a quiet morning walk, some special belly rub time, special time with a favorite bone or long-lasting treat - whatever it is that she really really loves.

    In the meantime, if you start to feel overwhelmed, or feel like she isn't getting better, consider seeking the advice of a professional. If you are in the DFW area, I know a wonderful Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist whose information I would be happy to give you. I worked with her to help my non-Pyr, Chester, learn to cope with his severe Separation Anxiety. For less than what many far less qualified "behaviorists" have charged me, she developed a targeted and individual treatment plan that helped him change his behavior by treating the underlying emotions causing the behavior. She was empathetic, knowledgeable, and effective, unlike the guy who charged me a total of about $700 to try some gimmicks and loose-lead walking.

    I hope that Ahsoka is feeling more like herself, soon. Let me know if you would like me to send you the CAAB's information, and please keep us posted on her progress!
    Sebastian is on Facebook!
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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Linsul's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    I am so very sorry to hear about your family's loss.

    I am also very sorry to hear that Ahsoka is having a difficult time adjusting to the loss of her older sister. I am certainly no expert, but to me, it sounds like she could possibly have been traumatized by the awful events of that morning, as well.
    Thank you, it certainly was a shock! Anakin was...well I can honestly say Ahsoka brought out the best in her. We got her from the pound, and she had pound puppy nueroticism (sp?) her whole life. No matter how well treated, she couldn't shake the off her habits completely until Ahsoka came along. Nothing serious aside from food aggression that she was hand fed out of (that took MONTHS!) just little things. She always backed out of rooms away from people, would sleep on her beds facing walls, that kind of thing. Great when interacting though! All that went away with Ahsoka, she became vocal and spoke "dog" to Ahsoka often and sometimes loudly lol! It was really great to see her relax with a dog friend fully. I'm kind of glad that if she had to go, it was after a run and a roll in her grass with her bestie. She was a bit of a weirdo, but she was our weirdo, and I know she had her reasons!

    Ahsoka is a super sensitive beast so I worry. I've seen her bark like a rabid animal at coyotes, but when a bird dies and lands in the back yard she sits with it. Never touching, not allowing Anakin to treat it as a toy (she loved to chase and jump at birds but when Ahsoka got old enough she decided that was over lol) just sit. We have a lot of birds in the trees out back and somewhere along the line Ahsoka decided they were hers to guard. She was sitting with Anakin like this when I found them after dropping the kids off at school. I have no doubt she knew what happened



    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    Provided that she is comfortable staying home alone, I think it is a good idea to try giving her some quiet time at home, and see how she does. The behavior you describe indicates that she is uncomfortable meeting new dogs right now. That could be a product of grief, trauma, or an emerging insecurity as she realizes that she is now the lead dog in the house, and no longer has Anakin to protect her. When (and if) she seems ready to try venturing out into the world again, I would first try taking her somewhere new, and taking her there during a time when it is not as likely to be crowded. Also, I would consider taking her either to an open-air event, or a larger store, to avoid her getting the sense that she is being closed in. I would be armed with a pouch full of irresistibly delicious treats, and try to make the outing as rewarding and pleasurable as possible. If her body language starts to indicate that she is becoming overwhelmed, or just not into it, I would put her in the car and bring her home. No matter what, I would make it a point to set aside some Ahsoka TLC time each day - whether it be a quiet morning walk, some special belly rub time, special time with a favorite bone or long-lasting treat - whatever it is that she really really loves.
    I think you're right, I'm going to let her chill out a bit. She wasn't leaving with me daily or anything but I was trying to bring her with when it was a dog friendly destination since she was velcro. But, perhaps she's to raw right now because she's normally a ghost. Always nearby, but never literally under my feet like lately.

    Ahsoka was the dominant one in the relationship, it didn't start that way but once she grew into herself and left puppying behind her she had very clear expectations of harmony from Anakin. They were besties and never had a fight, but she'd let her know if something was happening she didn't like and Anakin accepted it without complaint. Thankfully! We have 4 ferrets and 2 kids, and Ahsoka had notions of what was acceptable and not. She was always right and only ever forceful enough to get the point across so I never intervened. She still has kids and ferrets and the birds out back to watch! We even had a loner coyote run across the field beyond the other day and boy was she raring to tell it off LOL!

    I can think of a few places that would be good test spots. I'll wait until she decides sitting somewhere other than on me is okay haha. I know her favorite treat too, it's brie cheese and I save it only for when I need her to take her Benedryl in the fall to keep it the holiest of treat holies! She gets bison marrow bones or a all natural rawhide most every night and she's been excited for those still. All of us have been loving on her basically nonstop. I'm at home with her all day so she's rarely alone except a grocery store run or odd appointment here and there so that's good. She never acts strange about me leaving. I did move her crate and the one bed she likes nearer to the ferrets. Idk if that matters to her but she used to sleep next to Anakin, now she's next to the ferrets. Previously they were in the same room, just closer now.


    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    In the meantime, if you start to feel overwhelmed, or feel like she isn't getting better, consider seeking the advice of a professional. If you are in the DFW area, I know a wonderful Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist whose information I would be happy to give you. I worked with her to help my non-Pyr, Chester, learn to cope with his severe Separation Anxiety. For less than what many far less qualified "behaviorists" have charged me, she developed a targeted and individual treatment plan that helped him change his behavior by treating the underlying emotions causing the behavior. She was empathetic, knowledgeable, and effective, unlike the guy who charged me a total of about $700 to try some gimmicks and loose-lead walking.

    I hope that Ahsoka is feeling more like herself, soon. Let me know if you would like me to send you the CAAB's information, and please keep us posted on her progress!
    I do live in the DFW area, right on the border of Frisco and Little Elm. Thank you so much for the option, I really appreciate and love that you have someone you can recommend rather than me guessing should it come to that! I'll absolutely take the info

    Thanks so much for the advice! It's a great place to start, I feel better about it already and I hope Ahsoka does soon too!

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Tsunibear's Avatar

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    I'm sorry for your loss. I know I told you that already, but I feel like I can't say it enough. Anakin will be missed dearly.

    Onto the Ahsoka issue, she is grieving and right now could be feeling overwhelmed, while Anakin didn't protect her she did give her a sense of security. I know when Monty passed away Missy was short on patience with the terrors and new dogs, her partner in crime who she was raised with and who she made feel more confident was gone and it was like her sense of purpose was gone too after that. In Monty and Missy's case Monty had severe anxiety and confidence issues when it came to other dogs and going to pet stores. Missy gave him confidence and let him know it was going to be alright and no one was going to hurt him. When he passed away she grieved and then realized that she was missing out on work and purpose. So for me thankfully I had my Mom's fat tiny Chihuahua and I dragged her out with us whenever I could and because, Chickadee has issues with strangers wanting to touch her and hold her it gave Missy another purpose. It took some adjustment time and I let Missy grieve for at least two months before saying "This ain't working women." After that she got better. Mind you she has now decided that she no longer wants to share her kennel and it's only her safe spot now and she must protect it...so I have started locking her out of it at the shop and telling her to go kick rocks to solve that problem.

    So my suggestion right now is to let Ahsoka grieve for awhile and then slowly transition her into outings again. Right now she is probably feeling overwhelmed with losing her best friend and then being taken out often.

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Linsul's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsunibear View Post
    I'm sorry for your loss. I know I told you that already, but I feel like I can't say it enough. Anakin will be missed dearly.

    Onto the Ahsoka issue, she is grieving and right now could be feeling overwhelmed, while Anakin didn't protect her she did give her a sense of security. I know when Monty passed away Missy was short on patience with the terrors and new dogs, her partner in crime who she was raised with and who she made feel more confident was gone and it was like her sense of purpose was gone too after that. In Monty and Missy's case Monty had severe anxiety and confidence issues when it came to other dogs and going to pet stores. Missy gave him confidence and let him know it was going to be alright and no one was going to hurt him. When he passed away she grieved and then realized that she was missing out on work and purpose. So for me thankfully I had my Mom's fat tiny Chihuahua and I dragged her out with us whenever I could and because, Chickadee has issues with strangers wanting to touch her and hold her it gave Missy another purpose. It took some adjustment time and I let Missy grieve for at least two months before saying "This ain't working women." After that she got better. Mind you she has now decided that she no longer wants to share her kennel and it's only her safe spot now and she must protect it...so I have started locking her out of it at the shop and telling her to go kick rocks to solve that problem.

    So my suggestion right now is to let Ahsoka grieve for awhile and then slowly transition her into outings again. Right now she is probably feeling overwhelmed with losing her best friend and then being taken out often.
    OH! You know what else, in the flurry of dog happenings the other thing to consider is that she'd been boarded for a week right before Anakin passed away. She's had a lot of strangeness in her life lately and she might just be very reactive in response. Hard to tell what is responsible for which reaction, but yeah we'll leave her be for a few weeks and see if she settles down. That boarding place made me rage, idk if you remember my fb rant but giving them free access to the outdoors in the rain and their beds covered in thick crusty mud didn't make me thrilled!! There was a lot of brushing when we got home lol.

    I love how you phrased Missy's kennel protectiveness! I tell my ferrets and my kids to go kick rocks pretty often when they're being obnoxious at bad times, it's a great phrase. It's Ahsoka's safe spot too, she's in there while Severus is out because he's a punk no dog should ever be exposed to lol Unless the weather is nice enough for her to be outside, but it's getting hot so kennel she goes with her kong.

    I'll probably give her a month before trying again with brie cheese and open spaces. Thank you for the advice!!

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Tsunibear's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Linsul View Post
    OH! You know what else, in the flurry of dog happenings the other thing to consider is that she'd been boarded for a week right before Anakin passed away. She's had a lot of strangeness in her life lately and she might just be very reactive in response. Hard to tell what is responsible for which reaction, but yeah we'll leave her be for a few weeks and see if she settles down. That boarding place made me rage, idk if you remember my fb rant but giving them free access to the outdoors in the rain and their beds covered in thick crusty mud didn't make me thrilled!! There was a lot of brushing when we got home lol.

    I love how you phrased Missy's kennel protectiveness! I tell my ferrets and my kids to go kick rocks pretty often when they're being obnoxious at bad times, it's a great phrase. It's Ahsoka's safe spot too, she's in there while Severus is out because he's a punk no dog should ever be exposed to lol Unless the weather is nice enough for her to be outside, but it's getting hot so kennel she goes with her kong.

    I'll probably give her a month before trying again with brie cheese and open spaces. Thank you for the advice!!
    I remember the kennel rant. I wouldn't have handled that nearly as well as you did. That's partially due to my working in the animal service world and knowing how some places are. I won't lie I would have raged hardcore, I would have made the Hulk look mild mannered. Boarding places are like groomers you have to do your research and be hardcore proactive or you get screwed. If I can't do a dog and think mobile might be better for them you best believe I only recommend one place and I only recommend two of their groomers, because I know them personally and would trust Missy being worked on by them which is the highest compliment I can ever pay anyone.

    Now that I think about it she could be all sorts of off and confused due to being boarded and then losing her best friend. That stress would be enough to make me cranky. Like I said give her some time to figure out her feelings then start letting her dip her toes into the water.

    Missy loves her kennel, but only if it's cool and she can stretch out in it...or if someone else wants in it then she loves it again even though she was just snoring on the floor like a bear. She really knows how to push my buttons so I have decided to push back to show her whose boss. It's working she has gotten a lot better. I still want to strangle her from time to time though.

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