Home Alone

Today for the very first time since he became a part of our family, Bruno stayed home, alone!

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Something about recounting The Odyssey yesterday, and the comments received from readers (thank you, Shazza, Davina, Baby, others) made me wonder if I could help him, learn to stay home alone, if for only a minute.

I’ve tried teaching him.  In Singapore, when he first arrived, I did everything I’ve done with all my dogs.  Bruno howled and cried, and wailed and moaned.  Someone mentioned SPCA and asked about abuse.

902742_301923836607207_2030202550_o (Abuse!)

Having never experienced separation anxiety in a dog before, we all had to learn to adapt to him.

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He is also overly protective.  Approach us suddenly, hover too close, or appear menacing?  Bruno will attack.

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The local paper once sent a reporter unfamiliar around dogs, to interview me.  Because all animals can sense masked uncertainty and fear, Bruno was in a foul mood, and I, crossed with his poor behaviour.

ST_16.07.2012_1219850359/Pandora Wong/Natasha Ann Zachariah// At home with... artist Tammy Wong.
Bad attitude, refusing to look at the camera.  Photo credit-  The Straits Times, Life!

Once we set up home in London, I tried re-introducing the concept of letting me leave.  I even bought one of those fence-like structures to create a safe, Bruno only-zone to reinforce this idea of comfort away from me.

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I could send him into his zone with a look, a smile, a word.

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I could not however step away from his perspective without him breaking down.  We practised this for a week.  Our efforts were futile.  My dog has separation anxiety.

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As Bruno has just returned from his vacation exhausted and happy to be home, I decided to use this as an  opportunity to attempt leaving him.  Instead of his usual morning potty walk, I intentionally hiked him, tiring him more.  Then I sent him to the bedroom with a treat.  When he settled down, I said, Bye, Bruno- stay home, good boy, ignored his sunken shoulders and tail, and slipped away.

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Outside my flat, for the very first time ever, I did not hear an operatic chorus in G minor belting from the little guy.  I left him for an hour, and went for a walk with Cookie instead.

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I received a earful from Bruno when I came home.

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He’s not allowed me out of sight since.

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Fact is, I will never leave Bruno home alone for stretches of time.  All I want is to teach him to settle by himself, so that I can go ride Cookie.

In high school, I went to an Over-Achieving, “Elite” Institution, where no matter how hard I worked, I was always at the near bottom of my class.  This school is surfacing in memory now, because one of the things often preached was- “The Impossible We Do At Once.  Miracles Take a Little Longer.”

Well Bruno, I think we experienced a mini miracle today.  We’ll just have to keep practising and turn this miracle, into a habit.

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