Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day care can be traumatic... and that's just the parents

Occasionally hospice has a patient that needs more than just TLC, food or medicine, occasionally we have a "special needs" patient like "R" whose needs are more basic.

R - we're only using his first initial here until he's ready for adoption, R needs everything. He has to be carried everywhere, he needs to be fed six or eight times a day, R has to be cleaned up after - we'll let you fill in the blank and R needs constant attention. Yep, R is just about the most demanding patient we've ever had because R is only three months old.

R is a little chihuahua that came to hospice after his neck was broken in a household accident and the owners could no longer care for him. He came from a back yard breeder who took him from his litter too early and put him in harms way too young.

His neck is mended now and he has had his first round of shots and today R started day care.

We asked around and found an ideal day care for R, a place where he will meet other dogs his own age - in a way, his lost litter mates and a safe place to learn all those little dog social skills like, "If I chase you, you might chase me back" and, "If I bite you..."

R needs that and so much more that only his peers can teach him;it's called playing but it's really socialization so that one day when he's all grown and tipping the scales at a hefty seven pounds or so he won't be a threat to anybody else, or they to him, he'll be a normal, healthy dog.
I dropped him off this morning at Carlee's day care place after a quick trip to the pet store for his first harness a size 0000. R's first sight and sound of so many other small puppies had to be unnerving. He ran for cover and only after a bit of coaxing would he come out to meet his fate, twelve little dogs just like him but all different and suddenly it wasn't such a lonely world for a little guy with a previously broken neck and no family.

R was in school and this was the first day.

I'm writing this as I wait to pick him up after day care and I'm a nervous wreck. Did he have enough breakfast this morning, will he get along with the others or will he come home with his first black eye and a resentment that I made him face the world alone for the first time.
What if he bites somebody? What if he bites Carlee? Too many what ifs and I'm being a father. This probably is a traumatic experience for R, I know it is for me.

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