From time to time I write about my dog Dexter. We adopted him at the pound, not realizing how serious his atopic dermatitis was. He is a special needs dog that requires constant medical attention.
Through a series of coincidences, we met his former US Coast Guard handler. Dex is a retired military working dog. He was used for bomb and drug detection, and from time to time he still alerts. Some of the neighbors smoke pot. He has found stronger, and illegal stuff, as well. He also saved my life. He redirected his training and alerts me if my blood sugars drop.
Last night we had a reminder of his trauma with the Coast Guard. A police helicopter kept flying over us for over half an hour. As a reporter, I turned on the scanner. Dispatch sounded like something Dex heard. Chiefly, it was the chopper.
We knew he was flown away after something traumatic happened. He and his handler were injured. Dexter’s back issues may come from that. His skin was not helped either, and exposure may have triggered his AD. But to make a long story short, the dog ended up in the pound (his former handler could not afford his health care.)
Dexter was adopted by another person first, and five months later he went back to the pound. In her words, this dog is allergic to everything. This is a pretty accurate statement.
When we adopted him, he was very Ill. For a few months, I did not know whether we were doing the right thing. And I am honestly not sure if his vets believed we would overcome that rough patch. Let’s just say, he sees more specialists than I do, and we would not have it any other way. He needs that care.
Dexter was also pretty shut down and slept a lot.
These days he is a happy dog. But last night I forgot about his trauma. He hid under the blankets. He was whimpering when I went back to bed. It took an hour of quiet petting and talking to the dog, to reassure him. We have a veteran, with four legs. He has suffered trauma.
He could care less about the fireworks on the Fourth of July. Real gunfire triggers a similar response to the chopper.
When you adopt a dog, realize most of the time traumas will never be known to you. But fear and trauma could mean a whimpering dog. It could also mean some aggression. Be willing to work with your four-legged friend.
He is my pal. He has saved my life. I know we need to at times reassure him. That is fine. It’s part of the commitment we make when we adopt them.
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