Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Separation Anxiety

(The pen shown above is the actual one that Abby had bit into in one of her baby-girl fits one day when she was left alone.)

If there was ever a dog that had separation anxiety, it was Abby. The way she showed her separation anxiety depended on how mad Abby was and who she was mad at. Normally, Abby would be the maddest at the last person to have left the house. That is, the person who she thought left her alone. My mom was at the house most of the time while I was away most of the day so Abby got mad at my mom most of the time that she was alone since she thought it was my mom who was abandoning her.

It may sound silly that we would attribute Abby’s anxiety being directed to someone in particular, but all I can do is give anecdotes in support.

My mom loved to read novels by authors such as Stephen King or John Grisham. She would go through a book a week while sitting on the couch in the den while Abby lay on the floor keeping her company. Abby was very observant and would notice things if they were out of place. For example, if we moved a piece of furniture just a few feet, the first thing she would do when she came in afterwards would be to do directly to that moved furniture and sniff it. Abby paid attention and noticed everything. I would not doubt it that Abby noticed my mom using reading glasses whenever my mom read

There were many things Abby could have chewed up and destroyed while she was unsupervised during our absence, but she almost inevitably took the reading glasses off the coffee table and mangled the shit out of them beyond use or repair.

So, the person who last left the house was the one Abby targeted. My mom must have gone through well over a dozen reading glasses. Sure, she could have placed the glasses out of Abby’s reach and often she did, but often she forgot. I still don’t know why Abby didn’t go after the books themselves. Maybe she wouldn’t have received the satisfaction of tearing up that item like she did the glasses.

In the times Abby got mad at me; she would go back to my room, get something out of it and tear it up. Other times, she would go on the table beside my chair and grab something off of it. One time she snagged an electronic organizer (this was the mid 90’s) and chewed it up. She got a spanking for that. Another time she took a solid metal pen (Retro 51, a gift from my grandmother), bit down on it and dented this thing. She must have been very mad at me because these pens are solid. I’m surprised that she didn’t chip a tooth. I used that pen a lot and loved it. Abby knew it and was sending me a message when she did that.

I hated to spank Abby and the only times I spanked her hard was when she tore up that organizer and when she ran out into the street. Spanking helped to curb her destructive behavior, but we had to reinforce our punishments. For example, we would keep a pair of mangled glasses around, and when Abby wasn’t looking, we would place the glasses on the floor or coffee table. Later, when she came in the room, she did her best to ignore the item and that is when we would ask, “Did you do that?” while pointing to the object. Abby would get really quiet, try to look away and lick her lips. Then we would top it off with “Do you want a spank?” Abby responded by getting on her haunches and try to hug me. I would then get on the ground, hug her and tell her she was a good girl. It was so sweet when she did that. Sometimes I would say to her “you want a spank” just so she would huggy and kissy me. I know it sounds sadistic, but I loved it when she would lala me like that.

The spankings, constant reminding her of her naughtiness cut down on her destructiveness. By the time she was a year old, Abby had outgrown this phase. But she never forgot the word ‘spank’. Just mentioning the word brought fear and would guarantee that she would hug and kiss me. I may have spanked her once or twice after she turned one, and I think one time was for her eating chicken bones out of the trashcan. Some of her behavior change can be attributed to our discipline, some to her mellowing out as she aged, and maybe because of Andy coming on the scene. Abby hated to see Andy get spanked much more than actually receiving one herself. When we bought Andy, this seemed to change her and she matured because of her protectiveness of him.


  1. Hi there - couldn't find anywhere else to comment; saw this and thought of you and your blog :)

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