Unfortunately for Elsa, we did not have the good fortune of moving slowly forever. Barring a single bordatella vaccination and a heartworm test (seriously, I should have picked up some handling skills from the SPCA if they were able to give an intranasal vaccine to AND draw blood from feral dog.. snrk.) she had no medical work up and was heart worm positive. She was just coming out of a heat when I brought her home as well. It was imperative we start treatment, but so soon? How? Well, good thing by about a month in this was happening:
Well, that happened shortly after she ate the room she was in. The apartment attached to our house is a wide open basement space, then a living room/kitchen area that has a single bedroom and bathroom. Initially I put her in the bedroom, assuming she would remain weary of me for a long time. Not the case. About a month of hanging out together and we were having some positive, albeit awkward at times, interactions. Like the time she climbed into my lap and immediately regretted it.
I call that one “Oh god, what have I done?”
She started hollering from the bedroom in the mornings, so we started to prepare the rest of the apartment for her to have free run in but she decided she would choose when she got run of things. We had some repair men over to work on our heater and after a short time one of them came to us and said “Your dog? Is eating the door?” and sure enough she was. We found her with her head and shoulder peeking out through the bottom of a half demolished door.
Now or never, so I went ahead and sent her spay and heartworm treatment appointments. I opted to spay and then treat with Immiticide, I honestly could not tell you if I made the right call here or not. Most familiar with heartworm treatment know your general options are the “fast kill” that is Immiticide, or the “slow kill” that is generally monthly HW preventative and rounds of antibiotics. The latter typically begin regarded as the kinder, gentler treatment. When I brought Elsa home I was determined to do the slow kill method since I figured she would be with us for quite a while, but then it dawned on me that physical treatment would limit her recovery otherwise. Maybe it was better to get her physically well first. Oh, I must have yapped about this and annoyed my internet dog friends to bits over what to do for weeks, so I’ll spare you the same anal thought processing I had then.
Her spay was uneventful. Getting there was interesting. She had never been on lead at this point and completely balked at the idea. She was a gal who liked to know where the exits were and not a fan of being restrained, even by a leash or a kennel. She was surprisingly unmoved by the idea of wearing the cushy fleece lined harness. Every day preceding her appointment she’d wear the harness for a few minutes while being showered with hot dogs. It was so easy, surely nothing could go wrong. And this is how common mistakes are born.
I never tried uh.. practicing with a leash on the harness.
Spay day comes and I suit her up, clip the leash on, and we step outside. We walk around the side of the house and every thing is fine. She stops to pee and then a car pulls onto our street. She turns to run back into the house and the minute she hits the end of the lead panic ensues. I’m not free? I can’t run for safety? Oh shit. I better chew through this tether preventing me from sweet freedom.
Don’t worry. What I lack in common sense I make up for in reflexes. I immediately grabbed the harness loop where the lead was attached and threw the extra slip leads I had around her neck. We sat and chilled out on the ground for a minute before I just opted to carry her to the car- which I should have just done from the beginning instead of trying to cram tons of counter conditioning into a few days AND while forgetting the whole point of the damn thing- successfully taking her to and from the car on the leash. And duh, cars exist, a person could have walked by, a Pterodactyl could have swooped down upon us. Point being, you’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you write stuff down. What point A is, what you want point B to be, and absolutely every thing that could happen in between. In this incident I end up looking like a dingus- even more so when I tell you I put her on Smalls’ specialty leash that cost a decent chunk of change and she nearly severed it in two points- when in reality she could have gotten away from me and been lost again where the odds of recovering her were extremely slim. Or worse, she could have gotten away from me and been killed.
If you HAVE to move a fearful dog, get that dog in a crate. Even if they don’t love said crate, there is no smarter or safer option. Too often I see transport team stories where dogs are lost in the same manner. In wanting Elsa to be as comfortable as possible I just bypassed a simple safety system. If you have a dog that is OK to be on leash, you might still encounter a Pterodactyl. Double leashes. I also like split ones that connect to two points, preferably one point being a harness and the other point being a martingale, but two slip leads will do just as well. Thankfully she made it to and from her spay appointment without further issue and the journey for her heartworm treatment went much safer and smoother.
My motto is to be prepared as possible, but if you mess up, you mess up. Do your damage control, dwell on it for a while, and don’t ever do it again.