Wednesday, 26 November 2008

New Dog Cures Agoraphobia!

New dog cures agoraphobia!
Nice headline, isn't it? It hasn't happened yet...but it might! I'll clutch at any straw! However, I've skipped the rest of the story, so let me go back to the beginning.

For some time, Marie has been craving for some canine company. She wanted a Golden Retriever. I said "NO" in no uncertain terms. At that time I was in single parent mode, and the notion of adding morning and bedtime "walkies" to my overloaded schedule was completely unsufferable. The answer was to get a toy breed, the type I usually call "rats", but if it was going to make Marie happy... So Marie looked at Bichon Frises, Chihuahuas, Maltese Terriers, and Papillons, but nothing seemed to "click" for her. After a few weeks, we decided to postpone dog hunting until after Christmas.

Things change, don't they? The medication side effects which had made Marie a sleepy and lethargic shadow of her former self diminished and subsequently disappeared. She began to help out around the home and I was able to gradually relinquish my single parent mode. I started to think that, now I had a bit of spare time, having a "real" dog might not be such a bad thing. I could do with the exercise, couldn't I, I mused while observing in the mirror that I had become rather rotund.

We learned that a small-time breeder in our area had two 4½ months old Golden Retriever puppies for sale. They had been the last of a litter of ten (!), and hadn't been re-advertised due to the breeder's inertia. Of course, we weren't going to get a dog - any dog - before Christmas, but when the breeder told us that if we wanted the mutt she would keep it until the festive season had run its course, Marie persuaded me to go and see them. When we viewed them, it was love at first sight - not only for Marie but also for Joe & Orla. Both puppies, a boy and a girl, had the "aaahhh" factor. There was no question about it; one of them was going to live at our house. The only question was "Which one?" The male puppy was chosen on purely aesthetic grounds.

All of a sudden, three sets of doe-eyes looked at me and I knew why. Softie that I am, I totally gave in to the pleading looks of these three and within minutes we had a new addition to our family.

The puppy, now named Blaze, had been residing in an outdoor kennel with a decent-sized grassy run so I was pleased, but not altogether surprised, to find out that he looked for a grassy area to relieve himself. There is a grassy area about 20m from our home and as long as we kept taking him there on a regular basis, he was, de facto, house-trained. Yea!! Lucky us! But here's the best bit - next day Marie, whose comfort zone only extended to about 5m from our front door, walked the dog all the way to the grassy area. All by herself. And has continued to do so.

So, you see, "New Dog Cures Agoraphobia" isn't a total fabrication - it's merely an exaggeration.

[fanfare] And here he is .... BLAZE!


Lakeland Jo said...

Have just visited your blog as advised by Rosiero and I have enjoyed catching up with your posts. Blaze is lovely. I hope he continues to encourage Marie. Good wishes to you both

Kit Courteney said...



What a wonderful family he has joined!

Jill Wheeler said...

Oh my gosh, your dog is adorable! I'm so glad Marie is extending her comfort zone. I have a friend with agoraphobia and know it's excruciating.

Thank you for visiting my blog and for the nice comment! I personally don't believe everything happens for a reason, either, but it was something I was playing with, for that book, anyway.

Have a good Thanksgiving!

Michelle said...

That just made my day to read that! He is just adorable, and he does give her what she needs to go that extra distance, doesn't he? How wonderful!

Sarah♥ said...

LOL..BIG dog!!
So cute and already helping Marie, that's simply fantastic :)


R.J. Keller said...

Beautiful dog! Sounds like he's been a helpful, as well as adorable, addition already.

I'm allergic, but if I wasn't a golden retriever is exactly what I'd have.

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh, he is truly adorable!
And kudos to you Robert for taking the risk and to Marie for taking those brave extra steps!

Robert said...

Welcome L-Jo! So Rosiero is advertising my blog? I must remember to send her a cheque ;0)
Since I really appreciate the beautiful countryside all around me here in the SW, I know what a joy it is to live in a scenic area such as yours. Lucky us! Walking the new addition to our family will be a pleasure in this area.

Robert said...

Kit, Michelle, RJK & mystery guest - Thanks for confirming what I already knew...he's a handsome lad. He's making Marie very happy, and of course the kids love him too. He has helped Marie a little already, so perhaps there is more to come?

Robert said...

Thanks for the comment, Jill. I thought the start of your book worked. I'm still wondering what reason you're going to suggest for everything happening (in the context of the book).

Robert said...

Sarah - he's just a tad different to a chihuahua, isn't he? However he is MUCH more child-friendly than any of the toy breeds; and I think Marie sees him as a "safer" companion than a small dog. You'll understand that, I'm sure.

Good luck with your continuing exposure therapy.

maz said...

Aw Robert he's a wee smasher!
Cute as a button too!

Happy doggy days with him.

maz x

rosiero said...

Aaaaaah, he's gorgeous. So glad he is helping Marie to make those important steps away from the house. They say, animals can work wonders where nothing else has succeeded. Glad my blog is bringing others to you - think it must have been mentioning the award I gave you. But I won't charge commission!

Robert said...

Maz - Although this was all Marie's idea, and she picked the pup, I have to admit to enjoying having him around. So I think that happy doggy days are on their way for me as well as Marie.

Robert said...

rosiero - glad to hear that there's no commission! lol And thanks for the award, too. We'll see in due course what benefits the dog will bring.

Sweetie pie said...

Hey Robert!

What a cutie! And so great that hes already into doing his business outside! House training is a huge obstacle for alot of people...and I've seen a lot of people give up and give the dog away. My grandma is having this issue with her maltese (my dogs brother) and shes been trying to give him away! She won't take my advice on crate training..she thinks its mean! Ugh!

Anyhoo...I think its wonderful that Marie is venturing out with the dog! Maybe shes the security she needs when you're not home?! Goldens are great service dogs..maybe you can work on training him to be one? They're really smart!

Good luck with him...I can't wait to hear about Maries progress with him!

Lavender mace said...

he's gorgeous.

i think its true about dogs helping. there are a couple of people in my life who allow "pets" in they're homes. these are also the people whose homes i'm comfortable visiting. i can use a sidewalk sometimes when sigh is with me, that's my baby. my eyes are on him rather than my toes.

there's a confidence when i'm with my dog who is pretty big. i don't fear being assaulted. the social issues are present still, but the fear of being physically attacked or bullied is hugely deminished.

they did a news story here a couple of years ago about a woman who actually got her dog licensed as a disability aid (can't think of the right term), she had agoraphobia too i think. i thought that was strange, but my mother immediately pointed out that i took him everywhere with me. i have to admit i thought the disability thing was a stretch. but since then, in a perfect world, i would do it with sigh if i could. we don't live in an area where that kind of thing would be acceptable though. on the upside, we're very rural so everyone has a dog and we can let them offleash unless we're right in town.

i'm glad he's helping marie and think its great.

again, he's seriously a doll :)

AroundnAround said...


Blaze is so cute and I am so pleased that the addition of an animal to your house will help with your wife's Agoraphobia.

Pets are truly a marvelous way to help with the difficult things in life. Although the weather has grown colder here and I am not able to walk our two dogs are often, they have been a critical part of my battle against agoraphobia. Every day, or most every day, they were the reason I got out of the house for a half hour. Looking at them, I would feel a big pang and find some way to work past the panic I felt at going out the door.. not walking them didn't seem like an option.

I hope Blaze continues to help Marie in her quest to beat the agoraphobia demon back.


Robert said...

Sweetie pie, Lavender mace and AroundnAround - Blaze wishes me to convey his thanks to you for the compliments - although he says that in all honesty it is well deserved ;0)

Marie continues to take the dog to the grassy area 20m away from our house. She tells me that she is feeling less anxious about going there.

It's only a small sign of progress, but...

Rachael Hale said...


Millennium Housewife said...

How come your dog is trained/ hasn't ruined everything in sight/eaten Husband's birthday cake/doesn't look like he smells?? He's also gorgeous - but that's their trick isn't it? It's like babies, they stare at you with their adoring eyes, make you fall in love with them, then turn into teenagers. But by then, you're already doomed... MH

Henry North London said...


Robert said...

HNL- Thanks for the compliment!

Dink said...

I was housebound for over 15 years, wouldn't go 10 yards to my mailbox. After 6 months on effexor (150mg) my daughter got me alittle puppy. Within two weeks I was walking my puppy around the block and a year later I can go as far as 10 miles (on a good day). There are agoraphobic "service dogs" which can do wonders for agoraphobics. I have a pic of my "service dog" on my blog: He has made a world of difference for me!!!