Bringing relief from
Separation Anxiety - Success Stories
Willow the Pogoist
Our magnificent racing-bred Whippet, Willow, was and was not a typical lockdown puppy. That sounds very Zen, but we had been awaiting the birth of two litters from November 2019, but brought her home in mid-February 2020.
I took her to various places, safe in a shoulder bag lined with puppy pads, such as on a bus, in a shop, close to traffic, etc. for as long as possible before lockdowns began. She was a rather morose young thing, and hated the cage, even though friends’ puppies apparently loved theirs.
So, then we were all three at home together, nearly all the time, for months and months. If I went out, Peter was at home with her, and vice versa. Willow liked this arrangement, and developed strong separation anxiety when we started trying to leave her home alone for very short periods. She made this clear by clawing and biting at the door and door frame. The marks of her distress are still visible.
We took her to a puppy group, literally round the corner from our home, hoping she would enjoy playing with the other dogs, and that eventually, I could leave her there for a while. However, she didn’t much like being with other dogs, apart from a pawful of buddies. She much preferred to play ball games with me. If I tried to leave her, Willow threatened to jump the four-foot fence to get to me (and probably could).
The leader of the puppy group suggested we take Willow to the Vet, for a discussion on how to get more help on the separation anxiety. This we did, in the autumn of 2020, and the vet recommended she refer us to Ingrid Haskal, a top therapist. She warned us there was likely to be a long waiting list, as Ingrid was in great demand, and suggested that in the meantime, we buy an online course in the basics and jargon of the therapy. We were delighted to do both!
The course was well worth the money, as it introduced us to the dog-centred system of treatment, and made us familiar with the terminology. We tried to apply what we’d learned, and after 6 months, we could close the front door behind us for just over a minute, though Willow didn’t like it at all. Her favourite way of showing her great distress was by pogoing on the spot, and could almost reach the ceiling with her head!
In May 2021, we heard that Ingrid had a place available for us. I was a bit anxious about it, but Peter and I looked at the kind of life we were likely to have together if we left things as they were: never being able to go out together, and my life being seriously home-bound. However, our vet had strongly recommended Ingrid to us, so we made the commitment to go ahead.
We went through a thorough assessment with Ingrid, online, and signed a Contract of Trust to Willow, to promise never to leave her alone for longer than she can cope with. To this day, we take that very seriously. We also accepted that the process would take up a lot of our time and energy, and it did, but it was well worth it! All the way through the ten months which it took, we never had a setback. Ingrid was so patient with us all, ingenious and insightful, friendly and encouraging, a real joy to work with.
The aim was to enable us to leave a happy, probably sleeping Willow for 3-4 hrs – a big ask from her pogoing at the hall door before we’d got out of the front door! We secretly thought 4 hrs was too much to aim for, but we achieved it twice in the final month.
I can truly say that the therapy from Ingrid was life-changing, for the three of us – Willow is happy to be left home alone, and much more confident. I must echo several other clients by stating that truly, especially for me, we have our lives back. Our relationship with Willow is even more loving, the therapy having built up a strong trust between us all.
If you do get the pleasure of working with Ingrid, you’ll have the most supportive trainer with you every step of the way. It may take some time but eventually you’ll be able to do all those things that you haven’t for so long! x
I am passionate about helping dogs and their owners get over this terrible condition. So much so that I have made treating separation cases my speciality and am a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer. Using modern, scientific and up to date methods I get true insight into how you and your dog are progressing and can keep you motivated and on track throughout the training process until the problem has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
I got my life back
Above all thank you for being there for us when we were experiencing very difficult times with Reggie and thank you for cheering us on and giving us hope to persevere and not to give up
home alone and happy
I really thought this would never happen and its true that it took time and hard work but Ingrid’s enthusiasm, support and expertise kept us going. It was like having my own personal trainer! She was with us every step of the way until finally our little Alfie can be left at home and our new sofa is safe from being ripped to shreds.Trina