Heidi and Bailey: A Personal Story of Transformation
(this is a guest blog by Heidi Thorne)
I am on the Board of the Friends of DuPage County Animal Care & Control, a foundation that supports the DuPage County animal shelter which receives no taxpayer funding. My friends at the shelter and on the Board knew I was looking for a new family member. So when a 1 year old golden retriever came into the shelter as a stray, they alerted me right away. But Bailey’s story is a little more complicated than that…
Bailey arrived at the shelter and was brought in by a DuPage resident. They had brought the stray into their home and could not understand why he was always vomiting. They could not afford the diagnostic and care costs so they surrendered him to the shelter. The shelter vet quickly ruled out any of the known diseases with these symptoms. Then the x-rays revealed the problem: he had swallowed some fabric which had gotten stuck in his colon. After emergency surgery, Bailey was up and about in a few days. But the recovery took months!
Bailey has a super strong tracking instinct, along with a tendency to get “lost” in his tracking which would cause him to panic and “moon walk,” sometimes almost pulling out of his collar.
Pulling, Panic Attacks and Dangerous Episodes
He seemed to get along pretty well with our older golden girl, Molly, except for that he needs to be reminded who’s boss (that’s Molly, of course). But walks with them together were just about impossible. Bailey has a super strong tracking instinct, along with a tendency to get “lost” in his tracking which would cause him to panic and “moon walk,” sometimes almost pulling out of his collar. His panic would also result in massive pulling which would almost land me on the ground. Add Molly with a huge hunt instinct and you’ve got a recipe for an owner who gets dragged and hurt.
I was looking for a way to make this daily nightmare go away. I just wanted to be able to walk my dogs!
We tried several leash and training strategies to no avail. That’s when I called Carol Schulz, an animal communicator recommended by a dear friend, to help sort out the behaviors I was observing. We came to the conclusion that he was having episodes similar autism and/or ADHD, i.e. getting “stuck” on some obsessive behavior and not being able to get unstuck, causing disorientation and panic. I was grateful for being able to get some idea of what was causing these bizarre episodes. But I was looking for a way to make this daily nightmare go away. I just wanted to be able to walk my dogs!
The Coaching, Communication, Competence and Commitment
Carol recommended that I call Kathy Kawalec who trains dogs using holistic methods. So Bailey and I trekked it out to Kathy’s farm and she showed me a way to hold Bailey’s leash so that he still gets feedback, but feels more reassured. She also recommended that I walk with Bailey and Molly individually so that I can give each of them the attention they need. Kathy also demonstrated the use of T-touch massage techniques to help Bailey focus and relax.
So I began working with Bailey every day, twice a day with the new leash strategy and using T-touch as needed. Within about two months, just before Thanksgiving, Bailey was walking almost episode-free with only some occasional hesitation. Something to be thankful for that year! But it took a sustained effort to make this a reality.
Today, about 1-1/2 years later, Bailey is a joy for me to walk and we enjoy our time outside.
We still can’t walk together with Molly and double walks do take time, but that may resolve with time and as Bailey matures. Molly has her own issues (hip dysplasia) that need individual attention, too.
While the walking has become a manageable situation, Bailey still has some issues with obsessive behaviors (eating grass!). So I’ve reached out to Kathy again and we are working on those issues. She has always offered solutions that don’t involve the use of drugs or coercive training methods which is important for me since I try to use as many natural/green alternatives as possible.
Thanks, Kathy, for helping us bring more peace into our family!
Heidi Thorne, Promo With Purpose Today
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