For four months we had been at Mrs Murray’s Home for Stray Dogs and Cats before we were given the chance of a new home. In some aspects we settled in very quickly, we were soon allowed to run off the lead as it quickly became obvious that we were so obsessed with balls and we weren’t going anywhere as long as there was the promise that a ball might be thrown! Our first time off lead was at a beautiful local beach at Lunan Bay, one of our regular haunts now.
In other ways though, things didn’t go quite so smoothly. Rescue dogs can sometimes come with issues and one of us had a few issues. It was very intimidating for us when we first went indoors. Everything was strange to us and Millie in particular reacted very badly to noises. The washing machine, the dishwasher, pots and pans being moved, mugs of tea or coffee being picked up (the coaster would sometimes stick to the bottom of the mug and if it fell off it made a sound so Millie reacted to simply the picking up of the mug regardless of whether or not the coaster fell)...all of these and more bothered her.
At first, Katherine put it down to her just settling back into a home environment and just tried to keep things quiet as possible – which is very difficult for Katherine as she isn’t the quietest person! But after a few weeks there was no improvement and other fears were coming to the surface. Millie was scared of all kinds of things. We inherited an agility set from Tai, and that included a tunnel. When the agility set was put up in the garden, Millie was so scared of it that she ran back into the house! It took a lot of encouragement, and even more treats, to get her to go near the tunnel never mind getting her to go through it!
We got board games for Christmas and it took a lot of effort just to get her to go near those too. They were scary, the cups banged and the sliders moved and at first Millie did not like them at all. We also started going to the dog club, and that was intimidating for both of us to start off with and here Millie was very much fearful of being close to other dogs (I’m (Fly) just intolerant towards other dogs in general, but I am more tolerant than I used to be!).
Not only that, but it was at the club it was discovered that Millie was scared of a children’s sand bucket. It was brought out for trick training, the dogs were supposed to be learning how to carry the bucket but for Katherine and Millie it became an exercise in just getting Millie to go near the bucket and take treats from inside.
Millie’s anxiety problems didn’t end there, as a result of her noise anxiety she found it very difficult to settle down at night and suffered badly from insomnia to the point when she was only really sleeping when cuddled up on the sofa with Katherine. The worse the insomnia became, the worse her anxiety became and the whole thing became locked in a vicious circle.
It was by accident while researching anxiety in dogs that Katherine stumbled across a simple remedy that helped Millie to sleep at night. Chamomile tea. Yup, the same chamomile tea that you get for people in the supermarket. While normal tea and coffee is very bad for dogs, some (but not all!) herbal teas are safe to use though with all of them it is important to make sure your dog doesn’t have an allergic reaction to them by just trying them out with a small amount first. Millie likes her chamomile tea sweetened with honey and, amazingly, it did help her to sleep at night. We still get chamomile tea occasionally such as when fireworks are going off to help us calm down.
Chamomile tea however was just treating one of the symptoms of Millie’s anxiety and not dealing with the root causes. Something had to be done, and in the end Katherine decided on a three pronged approach to tackling it. Firstly, following the success of the chamomile tea, Millie was put on special herbs that were supposed to help with anxiety, and they did seem to help.
Secondly, we were both crate-trained. As you can probably guess, Millie was scared of the crate so it took a bit of time to get her used to going into it but the first night she was shut in the crate at night she actually slept properly. She couldn’t roam around the house finding noises to get stressed about, so she managed to settle down and have a good night’s sleep. It was a major relief for Katherine to get her sleeping at night!
The third and final change was a massive overhaul of our diet...which we will tell you about in our next blog!
Until next time...
Millie, Fly and Katherine T