Update on the Foster Dog a.k.a. Gremlin

Goodness.  Where to even begin?  I like to write these updates on our foster dogs as something to look back on & remember.  Especially since we plan to continue fostering other dogs and eventually get one of our own someday.  I feel like this one might end up being a little lengthy so feel free to skip this post if you want.  🙂 

I’ve been lacking motivation with a lot of things lately because this guy has sapped ALL of my energy ever since we got him 5 weeks ago.  Sure, he looks all cute & innocent but he turns into a gremlin if you feed him after midnight (…kidding, sort of).  In fact, I think Gizmo or Mogwai would be a good new name for him.  😉  

After this post, things took a major turn that night (July 18th).  We had only had him a few days & during that time he would sleep in the kennel at night.  There were a few nights where he woke us up by barking so we would take him outside where he would do his business and then put him back in the kennel where he slept the rest of the night.  This night, he was NOT having it.  He woke us up around 3am by barking so I took him outside & did everything like normal.  About 5 minutes later, he started barking… again.  This time, Curtis took him outside where he had to use the bathroom once again.  As soon as he finished, he put him back in the kennel.  Another 5 minutes later, the barking started.  And did NOT stop.  Curtis took him back outside again but of course he didn’t have to do anything.  So, back in the kennel he went but immediately started barking as soon as he was in it.  By this point, I think it was about 3:30-3:45am so we tried putting the kennel in another part of the house.  Nope, no luck.  He would bark, bang his head against the door, and just completely lose it.  This was entirely new behavior as he had never acted like this in the kennel before.  We weren’t sure if he was sick or if something had scared him while he was in the kennel so we were kind of at a loss.  Not to mention that it was the middle of the night so it wasn’t like we call someone with the rescue for some advice.  Eventually, we gave up on the kennel and gated off the back part of our kitchen while we tried to sleep.  However, he ended up climbing up on the table, knocking over the bench that we have for the table, and really didn’t settle down the rest of the night.  I called in to work that morning and spent the day with him at home where he was perfectly calm.

Since we didn’t want another sleepless night, I reached out to the rescue for some advice (and maybe even asked them to find another home for him..).  At the suggestion of one of the trainers, I took him for a walk that evening to try to wear him out and also let him wander the backyard for awhile before trying to put him in the kennel.  We also gave him some melatonin to try to help him relax.  Unfortunately, none of these things worked and this was probably the worst night we had with him.  As soon as we put him in the kennel around 10:00pm, he immediately started barking and freaking out the way he did the night before.  We decided to give up on the kennel all together and just let him roam the main floor of the house.  He slept for a little bit which allowed us to get a few hours of sleep before he was up again.  He would bark, pace, cry, whine, you name it.  This all started around 2:00am and went on the entire night.  You guys, I cannot tell you how frustrating this was.  Have you heard a basset hound bark?  It is SO deep and SO loud and echoes through the entire house.  He would not settle down for anything.  We even tried the kennel again but he ended up biting me in the process of trying to put him in– that’s how bad he hates the kennel!  🙁  Curtis & I were basically taking turns trying to get him to settle down.  Eventually, Curtis ended up sleeping on the couch in the living room to see if that would help him relax.  He would lay down for a little while but then get up again to pace/cry/bark.  All together, I think I got about 3 hours of sleep that night.  

While we were at work, we gated him in the back part of our kitchen.  When I came home from work, he had destroyed the mini blinds but otherwise didn’t appear to mess with anything else in the area.  That night (July 20th), we met with a dog trainer who works with the rescue because we were kind of losing our minds & the rescue did not have another foster home for him to go to.  We kept him out of the kennel all together & didn’t even bother trying to put him in it at bedtime.  We also increased the melatonin dosage a little.  As soon as we shut all the lights off and got into bed, he was almost immediately anxious.  He came into our room and barked or he would walk into the living and bark.  This went on for several minutes before he finally settled down enough to let us sleep…. for a few hours.  He was up again in the middle of the night & continued the pacing/barking/crying.  

And the nighttime anxiety has continued, for the most part.  He seems to be fine during the day as he’s not destroying our house and neighbors haven’t called about a dog barking constantly.  He also does pretty well when we are at home in the evenings and during the weekends.  There is just something about nighttime that triggers his anxiety for some reason & we have yet to really figure out how to change this.  He will wake up anytime between 12:30-4:00am, walk into our room and start barking.  Even if we shut the door, he will bark from the outside.  We take him outside because he almost always has to pee but once he’s back inside, he doesn’t seem to know how to relax.  He will continue to bark/whine/cry/pace throughout the remainder of the night and will only lay down for a short period of time.  We tried melatonin and Benadryl but neither seemed to have much of an effect on him.  I started sleeping with headphones to try to drown him out so I wasn’t a complete zombie at work.  

After his adventure in the Papio Creek, the vet prescribed him some anti-anxiety medication.  This seemed to help a little but he would still get up in the middle of the night, go outside, and then pace/cry/whine for awhile once he was back inside.  He just didn’t bark as much once he was on the medication.  We aren’t sure if it’s separation anxiety, mainly because he’s still so skittish around us & doesn’t seem to care for people much.  We think the behavior is because he is lonely.  In the middle of the night, he will sometimes walk around the house & just sob!  I’ve never heard anything like it before & it’s so sad!  🙁  Of course we don’t know everything about his past but we assume that the previous humans & dogs they have are all he has ever known.  Now that he’s by himself in a new place with strange people, he’s missing his pack.  I can’t help but feel terrible for him as I can’t imagine what is going through his head.  

This past Friday, he had his neuter surgery & was given instructions to be kenneled for the next 10-12 days.  As you can imagine, he was NOT about the kennel at all.  He slept in it for a little while that evening but once the medicine wore off, he was back to barking & banging his head against the door.  So, we took him out and tried putting the cone that I had from our last foster pup’s surgery on him but it was way too small.  Since we didn’t want him out wandering around the house & possibly messing with his stitches, we decided to put him our bedroom for that evening with the door shut.  And guess what…..   he slept the entire night!  And again on Saturday & Sunday night.  We’ve continued letting him sleep in our room this week but he has been waking up around 4:30-5:00am and will bark at us to let us know he needs to go outside.  The only difference is that once he’s back inside, we put him back in our room, and he is able to lay down again rather than pace & cry the rest of the night.  He is still on the antianxiety medication so maybe that is finally starting to work.  I know the medication is not permanent but I hope that it helps him to learn to be more comfortable with humans.  I’m crossing my fingers that this is something that continues!  GOD knows I need some freaking sleep right now!  

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