Let me apologize in advance for the length of this post. I think it is necessary for a little background before I deliver my questions.
My mom and dad have had a lab, Calusa, for eight years. They trained her themselves to be a service/companion dog for my dad who was an amputee and wheelchair bound. Calusa went everywhere with him, shopping, restaurants, doctor's visits, etc. They had certain routines that they did everyday.
In February, my dad became very sick and was hospitalized. Calusa visited him everyday in the hospital, even in the ICU. Finally, he went to a hospice house where he was kept comfortable until he passed away. Calusa was with him in the hospice house (she kept licking his hand). She was not with him the moment he died but we took her there immediately after and she stayed with him for about and hour.
My mom, dad and Calusa were a threesome for eight year, now it's just Mom and Calusa. She tries to keep Calusa busy and takes her places when she can but now that she doesn't "need" to be of service to anyone my mom doesn't feel comfortable taking her "everywhere".
Okay, so here comes the health part. Calusa has suffered from mild allergies for years. Now, three months after her master died, she is physically suffering badly. Her coat is rapidly deteriorating (she looks pock marked where she has lost her fur). Her chin is raw from rubbing. She is lethargic and "looks" sad.
To make matters worse, she recently injured her paw and needs to curb the exercise until it heals, which seems to be taking a very long time.
My mom and the vet are working closely and treating Calusa for "allergies". Nothing seems to make her any better! I am beginning to think this is more than just allergies and maybe a physical reaction to the loss of the person who was closest to her.
Has anyone experienced this before? Or know of any resources we can tap into?
Any advice would be helpful.
I think I would honestly have your mom continue taking her places. I think that the loss of your dad is hard enough for her ( and you all) but to lose her sense of "responsiblility" so to speak, must be a double blow.
I think that both of those circumstances might be contributing to her immune system being lower then normal. It has been shown that people who suffer from depression oftentimes have lower immune system responses. I think that since she's suffered from allergies for years at any rate, they have been worsened by depression.
See if your mom can get her back into routine for a couple of weeks and see if that helps at all. It certainly doesn't cost anything and who knows? it might just improve everyone's spirits and health?
Sorry that I don't have better advice to offer then that, but I hope she gets better soon.
Me, Abzilla and the Helomonster.
sounds like getting a "job" might be very good for her. Can she get registered as a pet partner?
could you do visits to a nursing home or something as a therapy dog. Maybe that and getting in more of a routine would help bring her back to her old self and strengthen her immune system.
I'm sorry for your loss I hope they can find something to help Caulsa
My thoughts would be that is Phycological and physical and both need to be addressed in order to improve her health. Since she's a service dog, any change of getting her to do some therapy work - visit kids or retirement homes?
I think keeping her active and feeling useful is the way to go. Many of us know from firsthand experience after losing a loved one the best thing is to keep going, hard as that is..The worst thing you can do is mope around. I bet our dogs would be no different. I bet if Calusa were to start feeling like she is needed you' see a difference in her overall health and outlook.
Good luck abd God bless..I know this is very difficult for you all.
... ? Antidepressants may help! Even healing her skin disorder will be a gain in this situation ! amitriptilin is the one I have heard used in this way.
I agree with everyone else she needs a job. She misses your dad and she needs to be needed. Can your mom let her do for her what she used to do for your dad? Even if it means your mom deliberately drops things so Calusa picks them up, fetches the paper whatever it was she used to do for your dad. I think I would also continue to take her with her to the familiar places like shopping etc. There are many service dogs and your mother doesn't need to explain to people why she has one in a public place. She is probably having a hard time adapting to the job of just pet. I have a cousin who is blind and her original guide dog developed cataracts. Even though they were removed she couldn't use her as a guide dog any longer. She tried keeping Boo as a pet but she was miserable. She finally gave her to her parents and my aunt who could see fine let Boo guide her on walks putting her harness on. She snapped out of it quickly. Perhaps Calusa will do the same.
She sounds like she is major time depressed and the best cure for that would be to feel needed again.
These are all good suggestions. My mom does let Claus do things around the house like she used to. She does love children and I will tell her about maybe taking Claus to places where she can help kids.
Get this...recently, my mom took Claus with her when she went to a bead shop. It was hot (like it usually is in Florida) and she asked the store owner if she could bring Claus into the store. She explained how she was a service dog and her master just died and how she's going through a hard time. The woman said, "No, she can't come in. She might bite someone."
I couldn't believe it. Luckily, not all places treat her like this. But you can see the roadblocks she is up against in trying to keep Claus "working". FYI....Lowe's and Home Depot let you bring dogs in whether or not they are service dogs.