I think Arran is grieving…

The past three weeks have been strange as we’ve been getting used to losing Zane. I think they’ve been especially weird for Arran, who was not in attendance when we said goodbye to his buddy on August 31st. Arran saw us take an ailing Zane out of the house, and that was the last he saw of the dog who was his companion for 6.5 years. I think Arran knew Zane wasn’t feeling well, but he probably doesn’t understand that Zane won’t be coming home. Add to the fact that Arran was passed around a few times before he landed with us, and you have a dog who might wonder if he’s going to be “sent away”, too.

Last week, Arran started licking one of his paws to the point of rawness. Bill took him to see the vet, who cleaned the paw and put a bandage on him. We kept the bandage on for a few days. It was removed on Monday of this week. Meanwhile, Arran started licking his other leg. I’ve been giving him Betadine soaks to keep the areas clean and allow them to breathe. It’s hard, though, because he keeps licking and, short of forcing him to wear the “cone of shame”, there’s not much we can do to stop him that doesn’t involve using another bandage. The last one irritated his skin, leading to another raw spot, which he also licks. I’m not sure what brought on the licking, although I am starting to wonder if he’s suffering from anxiety.

Yesterday we were watching TV and Bill came home after having been away for a couple of days. I heard him come inside the house, but Arran didn’t react. Normally, he would have run downstairs to greet him, but he didn’t move from his spot. He looked sad and lethargic. I became alarmed and wondered if maybe he was losing his hearing or something. But then I rang the doorbell, and it was clear Arran heard it. That means he just ignored his favorite person’s homecoming.

Later, someone from a charity rang the bell, and Arran reacted to that. I noticed his mood brightened significantly as we ate dinnerm and realized that Arran must be grieving, too. Not that I’m surprised, or that this is a new phenomenon for me… I know dogs grieve. It’s just that the ones we’ve had in the past were not so obvious about it. Arran is more sensitive than our other dogs have been, which is really saying something. I think he really cherishes having a family and still worries about being passed to someone else. Adjustments seem to be harder for him than other dogs we’ve had. Bill was gone for a few days, so it was just him and me. He’s more Bill’s dog than mine. I wonder if he thought he was going to be sent away, too.

Usually, when we lose a dog, it’s about a month before I bring a new one home. This time, I think we’re going to wait awhile, unless fate intervenes. I would like to have another dog. I think it would cheer me up a bit. But… it’s not as easy to get a new dog in Germany as it is in the United States. Americans have a bad reputation for leaving their pets in Germany, so many shelters won’t let Americans adopt. We could get a dog from a neighboring country, and we may end up doing that. But traveling with pets is not as easy as traveling without them. I’d also like to do some more traveling.

Arran is getting older himself, and a new dog may be a big adjustment for him. I think he misses Zane and the routine we had, and he’s a little confused by the change in the “pack structure”. But I also think he will come to enjoy all of the attention we can give him now. He doesn’t have to share it with another dog. I’m afraid if we bring one home now, there will be fighting and chaos as they try to decide who is in charge. Zane didn’t care who was in charge, although when he was feeling well, he didn’t let Arran push him around. I don’t like dealing with dog fights.

There is one thing I really miss, though, that Zane used to do… I never thought I would miss this. Zane loved to burrow under the covers and snuggle up next to me. I think he must have been one of the puppies at the bottom of the heap when he was born. When I would change the sheets on the bed, he could not wait to jump under them. Sometimes, he couldn’t even wait until I was done putting the sheets on the bed, and I’d have to shoo him away. It wouldn’t be a minute after I made the bed until he was digging under the duvet to bury himself. It used to annoy me, but now I miss it. And I miss how he’d insist on my holding the covers up for him so he could jump under them and situate himself just so, right next to me. Then he’d get overheated, and climb out, dog spreading on the blanket at the foot of the bed, just like his old buddy MacGregor used to do. Arran doesn’t do this at all. He sleeps between our heads, and more often than not, his ass is in my face.

Sigh… I really hate this transition. I love to rescue dogs, but hate the bereavement followed by the breaking in period. There’s a mixture of trepidation, anxiety, and exhilaration that comes with getting a new dog that is tough on everyone. Arran is not as easygoing as Zane was. But sometimes, fate has a way of working these things out… We’ll see what happens.