Friday 13 April 2012: Our number 42
the answer to everything - well, perhaps a 'slight' exaggeration, but it certainly seems that it could be the answer to Jack's problem.
We wanted to go & buy some pond weed this morning, but at the same time were - unsurprisingly - a tad reluctant to leave the house; we seem to have reached the point where not only do we have to weigh up my pain/energy levels before deciding whether to go anywhere, but now have the additional 'can we bear to come home to the inevitable mess, & the time it takes to clean up?' question to take into account. So we decided to try a tip I read about on the internet (backed up last night by my herbalist daughter, who said that loads of people buy Rescue Remedy for their pets, especially around fireworks night). 'A few drops in water' isn't an especially helpful guideline, and - always assuming we could persuade him to take a drink - he'd then be left home alone with a full bladder; so we thought about putting the drops on one of Jack's biscuits, but they're so crunchy that he tends to leave a trail of crumbs - & what if the crumbs were the very bits containing the drops? In the end we broke our own cardinal rule of never giving him 'human' food: he had half an oatmeal cookie laced with 4 drops of Rescue Remedy, and it went down in one gulp. Not being sure exactly how long the drops would take to take effect, we then took our time getting ready, Jack watching us the whole time; but whereas seeing both of us putting shoes on generally has him whimpering, trembling, & pacing around with his tail between his legs, today his tail was held high & wagging as he dashed between the two of us trying to 'help' with shoelaces; he even tried to help hubby put up the barrier which is always the signal that he's about to be left. Hubby's hearing isn't as attuned as mine to the nuances of Jack's barking, and as we shut the door he said: "Well, that was a waste of time, just listen to that barking"; but there was no accompanying whining, & I was pretty sure that the barking was his everyday 'oy, pay attention' bark rather than the tragic 'oh no, pleeeease don't leave me' bark.
And I was right! We came home to a clean floor, & a dog who, whilst barking, was quite simply delirious at our return rather than a nervous wreck because we'd been gone. Hopefully today wasn't just a fluke, but even so we don't envisage long term administration of Rescue Remedy; we're thinking that just a few outings where he doesn't get upset (or mess) will help him to learn that it is possible to survive without us, & eventually that will become the normal behaviour; we'll then try gradually reducing the number of drops.
Had I not been so keen to blip our saviour, today would have been another pond blip. We found that as well as selling pond weed, the local aquarium shop has just started selling other pond plants: they only had a few native British (which we're trying to stick to), but we brought home half a dozen marginals & dunked them in the water, then got the rest of the border trimmed & tidied up, & hubby heaved a load of soil from our 'spare topsoil' pile into the bog area; rain stopped play, but we'd achieved most of what we'd hoped to, & all that's missing are a few more rocks & a LOT more plants. It now looks astonishingly like A Proper Pond - I have to keep going to the window, just to admire it!
Things we've learned about Jack
He can eat faster than the speed of light: in an ongoing effort to get him used to his crate, we decided to distract him with a new treat (Dentastix) whilst - for the first time - shutting the crate door; but Jack's jaws are such that he'd chomped through the chew before hubby had even located the clasp on the door!