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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2013, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Depression?

Steve has been acting very strange lately and I think he's depressed. Our other Golden boy Sonny died very suddenly on October 12th, and Steve has been having a very hard time with it. Initially, he wouldn't eat, didn't want to get out of bed, only wanted to lay on the couch with his head in my lap, was ignoring my husband, and howling all day when we were at work. Soon after Sonny died, we got our newest Golden Fuzzy and things seemed to get back to some kind of normality for Steven. He took it a little hard not being the "baby" anymore, and as he is not naturally a super-confident leader-type dog, it's been a big transition for him being followed by a puppy instead of being led by his "big brother". He was playful though, and eating/sleeping normally and interacting very well with his new little brother.

Now things have changed again on poor Steve's emotional roller-coaster and I'm not sure how to get him back on track . We travelled to visit family for Christmas and he was very happy (him and Fuzzy ran all over the farm and were great companions). Then we had company come to visit us with their 4 month old Standard Poodle female. Steve LOVED her, more than any dog I've ever seen him interact with- by a large margin! He allowed her to snuggle right up to him to sleep, and played with her and Fuzzy in the yard, had a great time for 3 days! During that time we also "reclaimed" our basement, which used to be our deceased dogs favourite hang-out and is where I found him dead. We got rid of rugs, redecorated, changed everything we could and started to hang out down there. Steve never showed any interest in the basement when Sonny was alive, but has now become a little obsessed with it. Whenever the door was open over the holidays, whether we were in there or not, he was frequently found laying in there. After all the company left, he paced for two days and kept trying to get back into the basement. I followed him in, and found him marking on some walls down there! I cleaned it up very well, but he did it a total of three times as far as I can see, and even left a small bit of feces in the same general area. Now he's not allowed in there and he's totally depressed again. Eating more quickly (odd for him as he was always a bit of a finicky eater), standing at the top of the stairs and staring down, not playing, and lethargic again. What's going on? How do I fix this? I'm looking into sending him to a day-care for one day a week (it's a pretty expensive one and that's the best I can do there), and excersising him more. I was hoping to show him, but if neutering would help him then that's what I'll have to do. Or would that just upset him more- one more change in his world? I'm at my whits end, just want to help my little boy get through this and find his happiness again.

Background on Steve:
Steve is 3 years old with no health issues, well socialized, and up to date on everything. He is intact, but has never been a big "marker", and has never been very aggressive or into wandering. Has always been very clean and never had a housebreaking 'relapse', totally trustworthy with children, and a great energetic athletic partner.
He was home all day with Sonny (who was 5) when Sonny passed away in the basement.
He's never shown resentment towards the new puppy who is now 4 months old.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2013, 12:26 PM
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Poor Steve-I would start with the vet first, have him do a wellness exam, blood test, to rule out anything physical, but I do believe he misses Sonny. Perhaps fostering a female dog might help him.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2013, 12:29 PM
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I agree with Karen about a vet visit. Our Toby gets depressed when my husband is out of town and became very depressed after his older sibling Barkley passed away from hemangiosarcoma. We waited two years to bring a puppy into the home and now he's depressed about that. The only treatment we tried is more one on one time with him.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2013, 12:36 PM
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It sounds like depression and it also sounds like that change in the basement really upset him. I'd definitely visit the vet and/or talk with a trainer.

Additionally, do you still have a toy or a blanket or something that was "Sonny's" you could give him? That might help?

I'm so sorry for your family's loss and I'm sorry for your poor pup's heartache.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2013, 12:48 PM
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I assume the poodle pup was still intact? Some of this sounds like boy who is in lust! He will get over that in a short while.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2013, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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You know what? The poodle female is still intact! But he never tried any 'funny business' with her so I didn't even think about it. We were so surprised at how he played with the puppies so much, and then allowed the poodle to cuddle with him (normally, he'll cuddle with 'family' dogs, but on his own terms or he gets cranky and moves). I have had him to the vet recently for a general check up and his shots, and I had his feces tested for parasites, but I didn't have bloodwork or anything done as he wasn't acting strange at that point.....

If it is a 'lust' thing, how long before he pulls out of this? At what point do I discount that theory and take him to the vet? He's been acting like this for two days now...
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2013, 01:32 PM
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Years ago I suddenly lost a dog, my other dog's playmate. He witnessed the accident that took my dog. Within an hour, he too was up on the top of the stairs and would just stare down at everything. I knew he was upset, this was out of his character. He did this for about two weeks until we brought him a new puppy. Fortunately that resolved his depression.

Don't know what to tell you. The smells in the basement might have brought back the memories or maybe he thinks your bridge dog is still down there.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-03-2013, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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Steve with the poodle pup, while little bro Fuzzy looks on...


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-05-2013, 01:50 PM Thread Starter
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So we've been keeping Steve away from the basement, playing a LOT of fetch, and going for walks in new places to occupy his mind. He and Fuzzy have got a play date tonight with another puppy and a spayed female, and we've been wrestling with him and encouraging him to wrestle with Fuzzy. He's been allowed to sleep on the bed, asked up onto the couch, and we randomly pull him into cuddles, play fights, and instigate tug o wars, hide treats around for them, and basically give him the royal 'big deal' treatment........and I think it's working. He slept like a rock last night, and is just generally more alert and happy. Having an emotional, sensitive guy-dog is hard work!


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