We have written about how George stresses out in cars … and the attempts to help ease his anxieties.
In a conversation with Hebe’s mum, Jane, we thought to try the homeopathic way – Rescue Remedy and some other homeopathy concoction. We gave that to him before the car ride to the train station. He was in the back of the car and was panting. But instead of sitting while shaking and panting, he laid down and panted – less tongue. But the minute the car stopped, he leapt from the back seat onto Mummy’s lap and continued panting – but his panting got worse. Was he afraid that Mummy was leaving him?
Jane suggested maybe he had a bad experience with cars. No, Mummy said, not with cars! How could he have a bad experience with cars if he was a street dog? His behaviour when he first came to live with us showed he had bad experiences with trucks and buses. When he saw large vehicles in the distance, he would go splat – putting on all four brakes. Those big vehicles must have been frightening when he was wandering the streets. He did not react the same way with cars. Someone else suggested he could be having car sickness or hers feeling claustrophobic because he is ok when he puts his head out the window. So why does he not stress in buses or trains? In planes he may pant at first because it’s all a new environment to him but he soon settles. The minute he gets into a car, he’s desperate to sit on Mummy’s lap and starts to pant even before the car is started. He has to sit upright, doesn’t want to be cuddled though he wants Mummy’s hands on him – he needs the reassurance she’s there.
If the window is open, he likes to put his head out.
And when he does that, he doesn’t pant.
Worried, that he might jump out of the window to flee the situation, Mummy held on to his collar. But he wasn’t interested in fleeing. Even though he feels better with his head out of the window, he would come back in after a while and start to pant again. He always has to look outside. Friends have told of their own experiences with their rescue dogs with their ingrained habits – such as fleeing whenever the front door is open. Something terrifying that frightened them seem to have been ingrained in their heads even years after they have been rescued. When a similar situation reminded them of a frightening situation – they seem to react just as they did years ago.
Along that vein, someone suggested that George’s stressing in a car could have been a bad experience. Was it his last memory of being left after being in a car? Was he thrown out of the car? No one would ever know. But it is something psychological.
May’s comment: I wish he could tell us what really happened to him during the first year of his life. Where were you? What frightened you, George?
All the “quick solutions” to curb his anxieties have not worked. Do I accept that there is absolutely no cure for his stress factor in cars? When speaking to City Dog Expert who gave me a few tips on how to use positive reinforcement to help him overcome his fears. It’s not a quick fix. It will require a lot of patience, a lot of working with him in cars with treats. Need to find the time because it would be really nice if all three of us continue to journey together but till then, very, very lucky that we have so many takers for George.
He is WIP – Work in Progress. But worth every ounce of energy.
For those who have not met George – he was a street dog in Hungary. He came to us via Hungary Hearts Dog rescue about four years ago. He is still mystery sometimes but he has mainly settled in. Full of character, most endearing to all humans but still has inclination for resource guarding when it comes to food and affection. DNA testing shows he’s a Maltese, Yorkie, Shih-Tzu cross – but he looks like he has some poo in him!