We'd decided to sell our dog, Margo, because she couldn't have puppies, and dogs that don't have puppies are not good for a breeding kennel. We advertised her, had a family put a deposit on her, and asked us to hold her for a few months while they traveled over summer to avoid the whole new home/boarding kenne/new home/boarding kennel thing. We love Margo and didn't mind keeping her at all, so we did just that. In the meantime, we looked for a replacement for her.
We found Cooper in Minnesota, which is not close to Pennsylvania, but we bought her anyway because.... just because. That, too, is a long story. But it's a true one. An hour after we picked Cooper up and started the long journey home with her, Margo's new owners emailed and said they would have to back out of the deal. They were so sorry.
Cooper had a hard time transitioning to our home. We were told that she liked to be the boss dog, and I was prepared to deal with that. I've learned a few things or more while raising dogs for the past 15 years to be comfortable handling all sorts of situations. It's true that Cooper liked being boss, but not necessarily in the way we thought it meant. She simply liked to have things. All the things. All the time. If another dog was heading to the food dish, she would cut them off because that was her food dish and she may want to eat there later that day. If another dog had a toy, she also wanted that toy and would pant profusely while following that dog all over the house until she found the opportunity to take that toy. She would then proceed to lay on it so nobody else could take it. She rarely played with her toys. She just wanted them, because someone else wanted them. They were desirable, and she wanted desirable things. All the desirable things.
Life was incredibly stressful for Cooper.
She panted heavily when we introduced her to the house. She panted without stop for nearly a week. It was tiring for everyone to just listen to. We feared she may have too-small airways, which is a thing with french bulldogs, so we had her examined, under sedation, at the vet. Her airways were actually in the excellent category for a frenchie. She was getting plenty of air, just doing it in a noisy fashion.
We talked to the vet about Prozac for Cooper because she needed to de-stress. We decided that if she was going to have puppies, Prozac should wait as we weren't sure how that would affect pregnancy. We gave her many time-outs through the day as a break from life. We tried Lavender Essential Oil as a calming agent, we gave her calming treats. Nothing seemed to really work.
We thought Cooper was expecting, and tried reducing her stress as much as possible. Micah wasn't allowed to play fetch with Louie because it stressed Cooper too much. Micah wasn't allowed to pet the dogs because Cooper wanted all the attention and it was so stressful that she nearly hyperventilated. We couldn't really even talk to the dogs because Cooper would become stressed that she wasn't First! and Had The Most! and was The Best!
It was stressful for everyone.
Turns out, Cooper wasn't expecting. Instead, she had a uterine infection that (thankfully) didn't really seem to bother her much in the way of pain, but needed treated regardless. After consultation with the vet staff, we all decided that a spay was the best course of treatment for her. We'd hoped that it would also calm her. Maybe it was hormones that made her so anxious?
Dogs that can't have puppies aren't good for a breeding kennel, so we advertised Cooper for sale after she was healed from her spay. That was 3 months ago. We were so careful what family she went to because of her anxiety. We preferred that she be an only dog, and have a family that understood they'd need to be patient with her.
We waited 3 months for that family to show up. Turns out, it was the family that wanted Margo. (Who ended up having puppies for us, and is now a keeper whether or not we ever have puppies again.)
I met the family at a midway point since they lived in New York. Cooper panted like a freight train the whole way there because NEW! STRESSFUL! She figured out what was going on about 90 seconds into the meet. She stopped panting. Terror had stricken her so badly that she was immobilized in fear. She hid behind my legs, silently pretending that she wasn't there. I felt like a betrayer. It was a long day for me until I heard from her new owners. I begged them to please give her a few months to acclimate, and be patient with her. She's a good dog, just an anxious one.
Turns out, the dogs here stressed Cooper. She barely panted in the car on the trip home, greeted a guest that came to their home as if she were the queen of the castle graciously having someone over for a visit, and sought out the kids this morning to lay quietly at their feet while they played. Cooper has found her home, and it'll be a forever one. She definitely deserved that.
Which leaves our place as the Very Worst Home Of Her Life, in her book. I'm a little horrified by this. Maybe I need to move, too? Is that the solution when life gets too stressful?