Sybil the Lurcher

Sybil the Lurcher

We approached Sally because Sybil, our 8 month old lurcher, whilst so sweet and lovely in many ways, was beginning to be quite needy both day and night having been (we thought) pretty ’normal’ for several months.  Like most people I think, we assumed that we had read the books and were doing all the right things. We had put her separation anxiety down to the fact that Lurcher’s are naturally inclined towards wanting to be with their owners. Mainly there was lots of whining and barking and scratching at doors when I left the house and my husband was still with her (not very flattering for my husband!), and even if I just went upstairs. She had also latterly started to keep us awake for most of the night barking, seeming to need something, we’d be up and down all night, but she just wanted to roam around the garden eating grass (infuriating). But we didn’t know how to change this behaviour. It would be mean to ignore her ‘needs’ wouldn’t it? Were we not giving her enough toys? Were we not entertaining her enough? Were we not layering enough love onto her? Giving her enough space? The thing is, other than that, we felt, she was pretty good: we congratulated ourselves on how sociable she was and how she loved her playtime with her dog-chums, (but then she was actually also starting to become the menace too, pinning lovely sweet dogs down by their ears until they squeaked); she was pretty house-trained and we had a stair-gate to stop her going upstairs; she slept downstairs in a crate at night (surely a massive brownie point there….??!!).  And yet, we were getting zero sleep and were constantly feeling anxious that she wasn’t settled and it was starting to dominate most areas of our lives. We were definitely beginning to question our qualification as dog-owners, but also looking to the future: how were we ever going to have the life that we had known again? Maybe we were really not cut out for this….

Enter Sally. Straight off the bat Sally pointed out in our session two weeks ago that our attempts to make things better and better for Sybil through luxury bedding and beautifully hand-crafted eco-friendly toys was actually our undoing. In fact, in Sally’s words: ‘She’s Spoilt!’. So we have ditched the merchandise and the molly-coddling and lavishing what us humans believe to be love onto her. SO HARD! We have found that we have had to show real commitment and endurance and the ability to see that it’s us that needs to change. I in particular keep faltering feeling that I am surely depriving her of all things good in life. However we are definitely seeing marked changes: calmness, sleeping more because she is now less anxious, not careering around the house so much. She is also showing the ability to find downtime of her own accord in the comfort of her new extra large crate. She actually seems to WANT to go in there. It’s a glorious thing. I think we are starting to see a more balanced dog, and actually, the really amazing thing is that it feels so much less work than before - more commitment maybe at this stage, but it feels less stressful all round. Simpler and calmer. I’m learning a lot!!

What Sally does so very well is to point out in no uncertain terms that the current commercial world is really not helping us to be good dog-owners and that we are humanising our dogs far too much.  She points out that we need to take control so that the dogs feel secure and content by giving them work to do because they want to work for our love and their security. I have to keep remembering this so that I know what we are doing is the right thing, because it does feel at odds with our human nurturing instincts at first.

So we are moving forwards, but I still think we have a long way to go. We can both understand that this is a path to a happier dog-family provided we both put in the work continuously. We are looking forward to putting the next stage into practise once we are all three ready for it!