Forced Stillness Takes a Toll on the Soul

Gala has lost all hope.

I know that sounds horrible, but that’s the only way I can describe it. Up until now, she’s done really well with her forced confinement. (To catch anyone up on why she is in a crate 24/7 except for short potty walks – Gala has multiple fractures in her jaw after being kicked by a horse. You can read the awful story here.)

Personally, if I was forced to be still and quiet for a month and everyone was taking care of all my needs, giving me a comfy bed on which to rest, and stopping by frequently for visits, I think I just might enjoy it (except the endless streaming of Parks & Rec, that might make me feel as Gala does). All that lounging and catching up on my reading and eating fancy food someone else prepared and cleaned up – what’s not to like?

I didn’t think for one minute think Gala would enjoy or even be able to endure this, but for the first two weeks she surprised me.

She was sad, but resigned. She was happy when any of us crawled in her crate with her (it’s big enough for all of us).

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When we took her out for walks, she was happy to get out, and slammed her cone into everyone looking for attention. She went back into her crate reluctantly and waited for her next walk or visit. She slurped up her gruel and watched what was happening around her intently. She seemed to sense this was ‘only for now’ and soon enough she would be back living amongst us.

But now after three weeks, she has changed. It is as if she’s given up.

For the last three or four days, she curls in a tight ball, many times facing the back of the crate and doesn’t even react when people talk to her or come in the room.

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If I open the crate, she doesn’t move. She has to be coaxed, and sometimes dragged out, to go for potty walks. She doesn’t even get up when her food is served (up until now she has LOVED the expensive dehydrated fancy food, mixed with canned food and water). Eventually she eats it, but is in no rush.

Nick was worried about her so much the last two days, he’s bent the rules and brought her out and coaxed her up on the couch to be with us for a bit, but even then she only lies still. No Gala play. No Gala curiosity. No Gala snuggles. Not very Gala at all.

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And today, she won’t eat. It’s as if she’s given up. I try to tell her it’s just two more days until we go to the vet for our follow up. I’m ever hopeful he will allow us to at least take off the muzzle and cone, even if she must still take it easy.

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She is breaking all of our hearts. I want to believe that in just a few weeks, or even sooner, everything will change and our old Gala will be back – jumping over furniture, scaling fences, threatening the cat, and making all of us laugh.

She does still brighten when I allow her to stop to see the puppies – they touch noses through the puppy pen fence and the puppies all shriek for her like she’s a rock star (which she is).

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I do wonder what she is thinking when I open her crate door and she stays curled in her tight ball, looking at me with eyes that have lost their shine. Does she think, “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this, but if I stay very still, maybe I won’t get in trouble again.” Or does she think, “This is my life now and it sucks. What’s the point of getting up or even eating?” Gala is a smart dog, maybe the smartest we’ve fostered, so I know this confinement is harder on her mentally than it is physically.

Every time (and I mean every time – all six walks a day) we go out, she spends the first few minutes of her walk, diving to the ground trying to rub her cone against the hillside in an effort to dislodge her muzzle. She is convinced if I’d just stop yanking her back up, she will get that blasted thing off. She still pulls towards the horses is she spots them, so clearly she either doesn’t feel any regret or she is out for revenge.

On Wednesday, I will drive her back to Purcellville, Virginia for her followup visit. I have a dozen questions for the doctor lined up just in case his verdict is more muzzle/cone/crate time. I’ve so wanted to break the rules these last few weeks, but I haven’t because I am committed to doing what’s best for Gala, even if it kills me. But staying in that dang crate wearing a muzzle/cone for much longer is going to kill her, so if that’s the verdict there will have to be some modification.

I’m ready to press my case, even as I trust Dr. Walker to know what’s necessary to help her heal correctly. Fingers crossed I get to keep my list in my pocket.

The Highway Pups all have wonderful adopters and our headed to their forever homes this week. What a joy they have been! They are all loving and sweet and healthy and beautiful. How different their stories might have ended if a good soul hadn’t rescued them from the side of that highway in North Carolina. As I rub their fat bellies and accept their endless kisses, it’s hard to imagine what could have been.

It will be a bittersweet week for me with all these good-byes but hopefully a happy prognosis for Gala!

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like a few more pictures of the pups before they are launched or updates on Gala, be sure to join the Another Good Dog facebook group.

If you’d like to foster, volunteer, adopt, or donate, visit www.OPHRescue.org.

If you’d like more information on my writing, visit my website CaraWrites.com where you can find links to my books, my other blog, and more!

Blessings,

Cara

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Published by

Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

18 thoughts on “Forced Stillness Takes a Toll on the Soul”

  1. This poor baby. So very sad. She is probably so confused. I know you are loving her and doing the best you can for her and I have faith that she will get back to her old self in due time. Hugs to you and your family Cara! You are a terrific person!

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  2. So sorry this girl has lost her moxie. Poor baby and poor Cara. Especially sorry to hear she is still interested in the horses. We can all hope that this depression is just temporary.
    The puppies have been a joy to watch. I am grateful they got to spend a little time on your hill. Lucky families.
    I want to send a check to help with Gala’s care but can’t locate the correct post.

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  3. I will be anxiously waiting for some news from the vet! This post made me so sad for Gala! I know my dog would not survive long term cone treatment. It made him very depressed for two weeks! I had to take it off for feedings because he absolutely refused to eat with it on. I hope you received my check for Gala’s care? Hang in there Cara.

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    1. Thanks Laura – and YES, check came the other day – you are so generous and kind! I will send it to OPH to help defray the costs of Gala’s care. We got a few tail wags out of her yesterday and the count down to our vet visit tomorrow is on. Very hopeful.

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    1. You’ll be happy to know that the vet cleared her – no cone or muzzle now. We’re working on re-entry to the household and trying to come up with a good plan to keep her from escaping the house again. Sweet girl, now she just needs to find a forever home.

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  4. She thinks if she is still she won’t get into anymore trouble or that this is what her life is now so why eat or go out……….those words broke my heart! I cannot imagine what she must have been feeling! Bless her heart and your’s too for loving her I hope she finds a forever home soon

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    1. That was a rough time for Gala, but she made it through (and more). She’s a survivor and I think her adventures/heartbreak make her heart bigger and richer than the average pup. She feels everything in a big way. Someone, someday (hopefully soon) will be lucky to welcome that enormous heart into their family. Thanks for reading!

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