Sadie seemed depressed, or as I say to her, “down in the chops.” I tried to cheer her up with Mr. Possum and an extra treat, but nothing seemed to work. She sulked going out the door to school every morning this week. She barely had the energy to jump into the Jeep and then just went to sleep on the backseat instead of sitting up front with me. She ignored Henry when he flew over to her bed in the living room. She trudged along on our walks, ignoring the cats and squirrels that usually bring on a sprint for both of us. I knew something was wrong though when her boyfriend, Marley Pack didn’t even get a weak tail wag when he came out to greet us. Sadie loves Marley and is like a school girl with a giant crush when she sees Marley. I do believe she even blushes, but his appearance was not acknowledged.
I know that dogs pick up on our emotions and I’d experienced that before. If I’m sad, Sadie is less active or joyful. During the serious illness of my boyfriend earlier this year, her actions mimicked my feelings. I’d come home from the hospital at night so sad and exhausted. that I could only sit in front of the fireplace and cry. Sadie would come to my side, lick my tears, and then sigh and plop down on the rug and stay that way for as long as I sat there. She didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning and neither did I. I understood what was going on, but this time, everything is normal and happy in our lives or so I thought. I was puzzled…could my dog be depressed?
I did a quick Internet search, and indeed dogs can become depressed for many of the same reasons that cause depression in people. Like people, when dogs become depressed the lose interest in the things they like such as their favorite toys, food, and activities. I could relate to this because I’d tried to entice Sadie into better spirits with all of these. According to Pet MD, dogs exhibit these signs when they are depressed:
Loss of Appetite
Not drinking as much water as usual.
Lethargy—seeming to be so tired.
Isolation…going off by themselves.
Lack of Interest in favorite toys or activities
Restless and Anxious behavior
While Sadie didn’t have all these symptoms, she had enough to convince me she was sad over something. Although she had a good appetite, she wasn’t drinking as much water as usual, was disappearing into the guest room and sleeping on the bed, which was totally out of the normal, and she was tired. I was used to her anxiety during thunderstorms or loud noises, but she’d been very anxious at times for no reason. I had to find out not only what might have caused this, but what I could do to cheer her up.
Dogs, like people grieve from losing a friend, either two or four legged. In our case, even a feathered one, because after the death of AbiGal our Cockatiel, Sadie similarly went through a little down time until Henry came to live with us. This couldn’t be the reason now though. They can be jealous which often causes them to be down in the chops” if you get a new family member baby or dog. That wasn’t happening in our house either. Anxiety will bring on depression in dogs which can be caused by a change in routine, moving to a new place, or any other major change in their normal routine. Nope, we had not bug changes lately either. I’d already ruled out any major physical problems that could be causing this. She’s had a check-up at her regular vet recently as well as her cardiac visit to Virginia Tech.
Everything I read offered simple solutions to try before consulting a vet. Spending more time with your dog, rewarding them when they were engaged in activity, keeping up their normal routine and providing more exercise were all suggestions to help banish your dog’s blues. I realized I’d been pretty busy lately with writing and house chores. Perhaps I’d not been paying enough attention to Sadie. While doing things for her is always part of any day: fresh water in her bedroom water bowl, breakfast and dinner preparation, brushing her teeth before bed, brushing her hair out on the deck, and going for walks, they weren’t things I was doing with her. I’m with her so much; I was taking her presence for granted for several days. I’d been on my Blackberry on the walks, on the phone or computer in my home office, and it got to the point that she wasn’t coming up to me and flopping on me for our “talk” before falling asleep. I’d gotten into a rut with my mutt and maybe Sadie needed more “me” time.
I cancelled my massage after work yesterday, and picked Sadie up early. She greeted me as jubilantly as she always does, and when she went to get in the back seat of the Jeep, I got her up front and hugged her. I told her we were going to have a really fun evening starting with some “Retail Therapy” at Green’s Feed and Seed. Sadie picked out a new bag of treats, got a package of her favorite ones, a Merrick Pork Chew, and some food for Henry. We took our time checking out lots of other interesting smells and items in the store. We rooted through all the stuffed animals and tried on some fancy collars.
From Green’s we went to see her Dad. When I adopted Sadie ten years ago, I was hesitant about having a dog to care for alone as I knew nothing about what I’d have to do. So I’d suggested to Rodney, that Sadie be a “joint” dog since we lived across the street from each other. He declined, but over the years, he fell in love with Sadie and she with him and before we knew it, he was her “Dad.” She’d been through many things with both of us and a family formed. Now that we live 10 miles away, she doesn’t get to see him as much, so I wanted her to have some “Dad Time.”
Then we went to her Dad’s house and got ready for a walk in our old neighborhood. Sadie loves walking on the lower sidewalk by the river on Kanawha Boulevard. Sometimes I think she picks up scents from when we walked there every day and we still see dogs she knew. It was a perfect evening…not too hot…breeze coming off the river. We walked for three miles, and Sadie’s Dad picked us up in his convertible and took us crusing.
Sadie sat up front on the way home and occasionally took her paw and touched me on the arm. Henry was happy to see us and Sadie ran to the cage to give him a look over. After giving both Sadie and Henry dinner, we spent some time out on the deck playing with a tennis ball. While I brushed Sadie’s beautiful hair, I told her I hoped she wouldn’t be sad anymore, and I promise to make more time for us “doing” things together, not just “being” together.
Before going to bed, we watched Mr. Raccoon eat his dinner on the bistro table, Henry returned to his cage on his own, Sadie went outside for the last time, came to the bathroom to get her “toofens” brushed, and we went to bed. I was just adjusting my pillow when I felt the “flop.” There was my sweet girl ready to discuss the day with me and obviously our time together had done it’s magic. Her tail was wagging and I was smiling. Zig Ziglar perhaps said it all; “Spend time with those your love. One of these days you will say either, “I’m glad I did,” or “I wish I had.” I can always re-schedule a massage, tonight was just what we all needed…and I’m glad we did.