Haha. I have a 4th cat. Because apparently the only thing preventing me from sliding deep into crazy cat lady territory was my ex wife. lol
Meet Jaskier. A true bard. And Luke’s ESA.
Now everyone in the house has an ESA kitty except me*. That’s called foreshadowing.
* 4 cats, 4 humans. But Ash and Soot are bonded. Ash is a good boy and a great ESA to Sammy, but Soot, who was meant to be mine, has no interest in being anyone’s cat. Her loyalty is to Ash. Which is fine. She’s her own cat. She’s Ash’s cat. She’s fine. But that leaves me without an ESA. Foreshadowing, that.
Pretty much the day we decided Ziggy needed to go back, the Marrs Family Kids’ Union met and decided they wanted cats. Specifically two: one for Sammy and one for Thomas since they both have an ESA letter.
I was in a tough spot because we had literally just started the process of taking Ziggy back and I wasn’t sure I wanted to move on that fast, and I had all the stuff needed for a dog. I spent a lot of money on dog stuff and it would cost even more to bring cats into the house. But on the other hand, I was going back to work after being off for 6 weeks, in less than a week, and Sammy was suicidal. I had to do something! And the kids were adamant they did not want another dog.
So I brought out a newly paid-off card, called it a medical (mental health) expense, and ordered everything we’d need off chewy. I’m a pushover and well, the union had made an overall reasonable demand.
I then proceeded to scour Pet Finder and Craig’s List looking for 3 kittens from the same litter. I figured if Thomas and Sammy were getting kittens, I wanted one too and could get my own ESA letter. It took some hunting, but I found three 8-month-old kittens that were up-to-date on shots and already fixed. We brought them home the day before I went back to work.
Miss Soot Sprite Spooky Pants the Cyrptid Marrs Esq
I tried so hard. Constant training. Professional help. Rewards. Deterrents. It seemed every time we took a step or two forward, we took twice as many steps back. He was getting more and more aggressive and I was out of options. I gave him the best life I could but he just wasn’t… I don’t want to say he wasn’t what we needed because that makes it sound like he just had too much energy. He was aggressive to the point that he was attacking multiple people every day no matter what we did. We spent a lot of time, effort, and money to try and get him to calm down but he just couldn’t.
I have zero doubt he was abused in his first home. It’s obvious when you interact with him. He was taught, through abuse, to be aggressive. I too was taught through abuse to be aggressive. I understood that in Ziggy which is why I tried so hard and didn’t want to give up.
But in the end, I had to put the safety of my kids, some of them still little, first. And he was a serious threat to their safety. I took him back to the shelter in mid-April. They ran some behavior tests on him to determine his fate. I don’t know what they decided. I want to hope that maybe he went to an adult home that could try something I didn’t think of. Though with how aggressive he was I kind of doubt it. But I don’t know.
I tried so hard. I still feel so horrid over this. Sammy, a month later, still cries himself to sleep some nights. I so badly wanted to be Ziggy’s forever home. But he was so hurt and scared and just traumatized. Wherever he is I hope he’s at peace. I gave him the best life I could in the meantime.
This is late because I failed to write a post on Wednesday to schedule for the usual time Thursday, but I’m just going to let that be ok.
Physically I’m on the mend. I got an iron infusion on Wednesday so here soon I should have some blood. I already have more than I did when I went to the ER a couple of weeks ago. Not a lot more, but when I got labs done right before the infusion, I was up a tenth of a point. This means the mass amounts of B12 I’m taking is actually working. There was just no recovering from Covid without an infusion, no matter how much B12 I take.
Ziggy is doing better. We have hired a trainer to give him 4 private lessons. As of this point, he’s just had his third lesson, and while he still has work to do, he’s come a long way. He’s 95% stopped being aggressive and we’ve had the start of a breakthrough with the chewing on people to play and show affection. Again, we have work to do still, but I feel hope.
We had a setback for a couple of weeks there where despite taking him out hourly he was peeing in the house. But it didn’t seem to me like he was marking. It seemed like he legit had to pee all the time and couldn’t hold it any longer so he’d just stop what he was doing and pee where he was. So I took him to the vet so they could check for a UTI. While his pee looked clear and healthy, there was noticeable swelling still from when he was neutered a few weeks prior, so the vet went ahead and put him on antibiotics. And within a day he stopped peeing all over my house. After a week of taking him out hourly, and him not having accidents, we pushed things back to where we were taking him out every 90 minutes, and still, he wasn’t having accidents. We’re now on the first day of taking him out every 2 hours. Here in a handful of days, if he still isn’t peeing all over my house, we’ll inch it back to every 2.5 hours. Eventually, we’ll get to where he can go 6-8 hours without being taken out. I know it’s possible because he can make it overnight as long as he’s taken out at 9 pm and again at 7:30 am. That’s a long stretch and he does it well. I am taking it slowly during the day though because while he’s a dog and doesn’t notice the difference between 90 minutes and a full 2 hours, he will notice the difference if we jump from, let’s say, every 2 hours to 4. I need him to have faith that we are aware he needs to potty regularly and we’re never going to fail to take him outside to do so.
I don’t think his previous owner was as thoughtful. While Ziggy is obviously housebroken, I don’t think he spent his first year of life in a loving and thoughtful environment. If he had, they would have trained him. I think they just bought a dog expecting it to be easy and then when they didn’t train Ziggy became a handful, and then when he was a handful he was abandoned. Now we have an energetic untrained dog with separation anxiety.
So we’re doing what should have happened a year ago. We’re loving him. We’re training him. We’re using positive reinforcement. He’s a good boy and we’re helping him be his best self.
Finally, a story to tie the physical health beginning of this post to the Ziggins update.
Ziggy tends to his momma at night when she’s going to bed. Her anxiety is at it’s worse then and he helps comfort her. But Zigs is aware that I’m not well and he’s very fussy about me. Anyway, when I got home from my iron infusion on Wednesday I sat down on the sofa with him and Sammy and I must have smelled different with that much pure iron coursing through me because he thoroughly smelled me all over investigating the difference. He’s a good boy and will make a good ESA.
While this is a sweet photo between a girl and her dog, I wish it were the full story.
Ziggy is turning aggressive. He spends the bulk of his time as sweet as can be, but every now and then it’s like a switch has flipped and we can’t find the trigger, whatever it may be.
He started obedience training this week. I’ve paid for 4 private sessions so we can put our best effort into helping him be his best self. Hopefully we see progress, because if he continues to be aggressive I have to put the safety of my kids first. I love this dog and he helps Sammy feel safe and secure, but my kids are a bigger priority.
On the lighter side, while playing fetch with a ball doesn’t seem to be working, because he won’t return the ball, we’ve discovered that he’ll happily wear himself out chasing a lazer pointer so long as there are regular treats to catch for his effort. I’m hoping the exercise works to calm him. That would be nice.
We also learned he is good with other dogs, so the dog park will eventually be an option.
Meet Zachary! He’s high strung and mouthy but he’ll settle in. Need to train him out of chewing on people as a sign of affection. But it is affection and not aggression. So we’ll work with him.
So Zachy is a year old pretty much exactly. And whomever he lived with before did like zero training during the crucial training time.
He likes to chew on hands and arms to play and I need to break him of that. We’re responding like a hurt dog would, crying out in pain and going limp in the arm and it sometimes works. We’re also distracting with his favorite toy. But with the idea that he needs to play with people, we’re also teaching him fetch as a safe outlet for play with humans and a release of energy.
He is a chewer in general. We’ll work on that next. For now certain bedrooms are off limits and Sammy’s lovies are living on the top bunk.
He’s also having accidents inside. Of both types. He’s being taken out every 3 hours almost around the clock but we need to step it up to every hour or 2 as long as someone is awake. We’ll also start dispensing treats and praise when he goes outside. And shame him when he has an accident inside.
Then of course we’ll work on basic commands. I think I’m going to enroll him in obedience school. I was planning to train him at home, but I think we might need help. The catch is everything is closed because of covid. So we’ll work with him in the meantime and see what happens. I’d just really like him to learn leash manners and recall so the 9yo can walk him solo. That is a ways off but it’s a goal for the future.
We took on a challenge of a dog with special needs and I had an idea of that going into it. He’s a good dog and he means well, he just had bad humans before. I refuse to fault him for that even as I strive to correct him and train him. He’ll be a fine ESA dog with some work. He’s already made Sammy happier. So the future is bright.
I figure most the people in this house have special needs of one type or another. We all need a little extra help and love. So I have love and patience for a good dog that needs extra care. It’ll pay off in the end.
It’s like… ok…
My 13yo chews to stim. He used to chew on charging cords cuz good stim texture. Drove me crazy. But I discovered stim chews necklaces and keep him supplied (his current one is shaped like a sloth. Sloths are his current Special Interest.) and as a result he’s stopped chewing charging cords.
So I’m going to directly compare to the dog that chews. We’ll teach him not to chew humans and other things and we’ll keep him supplied in his favorite chew toy, and it’ll work out.
Both autistic kids and poorly trained dogs, while not generally comparable, do require extra patience and consideration as to how you can meet their needs safely. In this, there is no difference.
Please know 2 things.
1. I would not trade my 13yo for anything.
2. Unless this dog becomes aggressive and my kids are in danger, I will lovingly teach him better habits. And would not trade him for anything.