I was contacted by the Cinnamon Trust – an excellent national charity that helps people in their last years with their much loved, much needed companion animals. They asked me to help with Ben, a seven-year-old mix of probably whippet, terrier and collie,
Until four weeks ago, Ben lived with a gentleman of ninety-eight who now is in hospital and will not be able to go home again. The couple initially fostering him for what they thought was going to be just one week, will now be giving him a permanent home.
Ben is extremely attached to the lady – uncomfortably so. I am sure he has transferred his attachment to the old man onto her. Both of them, in the nicest way possible, use Ben to fulfil their own needs for love and company – and in the case of the lovely lady, to lavish with her abundance of love and warmth.
Ben simply finds it all too overwhelming and he really does his best. The lady is interacting with him constantly. They so badly want him to be happy. It’s just too much for a delicate soul like Ben. He displays classic calming signals – lip licking, yawning and tongue flicking. He is far too much the focus of attention, to the extent that, like a drug, he gets stressed when she stops. This is very unnatural for a dog.
If he can’t let the lady out of his sight in the house, there is little chance he will be happy when she goes out of the front door. He barks non-stop until someone comes home. When the lady comes home his relief is manic and overwhelming – less so for her husband. It’s rather like she is Ben’s child. He has to watch her constantly.
Ben has a wonderful home and they have a lovely dog. When he is released from quite so much responsibility and attention, and allowed to live more of a normal independent dog’s life – to stand on his own four legs – I am sure he will start to feel more secure when left alone and less worried that something dire may happen to the lady if he’s not there to watch her, or that she may not return.