Ricky and his PTSD

Monday, July 6, 2015


I don’t think Ricky cares if I divulge his mental health issues. He has an easier time sharing his post-traumatic-stress-disorder than sharing his rawhide. He is one of those dogs who doesn’t like to chew them, but if he has been given this as a reward, he’ll guard this priceless item for hours. Tonight, after at least four hours, I had take the untouched square thing. I was happy it wasn’t soggy. I would rather touch earth worms than a partially eaten rawhide. There are lots of things that I’d rather pick up. As I took it away, I tried to erase his pained look on his face with a promise of protecting his treasure and returning it.
My cell phone was also happy Ricky hadn’t hadn’t touched it. He hadn’t even drooled on it.


I had to take the rawhide away; he wouldn’t have left it alone long enough to eat. The girls have some room to lose, but Ricky is at a perfect weight, especially since he spends so much time on top of me. Camping was hard on his appetite.
After dinner, he respectfully asked for his friend back. I dug it out of my pocket. I sensed his relief as I gave it to him.
Some people have imaginary friends; others have a favorite toy or stuffed animal. Ricky has to have both. His imaginary friends like to jump from tree to tree as they play tag with him. Ricky is always it.
Eventually he buries the rawhide, or Lucy manages to swoop in and steal it.


Lucy inhales rawhides, figuratively-speaking, as if there is a rawhide scarfing competition. Lucy will eat them quickly and as many as she can get her mouth on one.
Abby is not into chewing rawhides. What is the point? At least with a stuffed animal, there is usually a squeeky toy to dig out, and the stuffing is fun to spread around. Sometimes it looks like it has snowed recently. When it comes to rawhides, Abby only likes to be chased around the house with it. When it is too hot to play Duck and Run, that is a perfect time for Lucy to swoop in and do her own version of


snatch and run.
You would have to know that this Old Girl’s Swooping is kind of like slow motion. It does the trick as some days, she gets rewarded with three rawhides. She is very patient and waits for the others to get distracted.


Abby doesn’t have any patience for rawhides. Some sort of kinesthetic experience has to be involved with the rawhide. For her, it is just another thing to run around with and try to encourage me or Ricky to chase her. Joyce W. will attest that Abby has A.D.D. Maybe the H needs to be in there. This depends on how well I have tired her out. She is an on the go kind of gal.


This last weekend we went camping to Delta Campground. We don’t camp often, so this may have been Ricky’s only second time. The McKenzie River is a short drive, and all the dogs go crazy when they hear the car alarm beep. Car rides are the best.
Being a rescue dog, I have little background Intel on Ricky. I am his Third person. I used to have no clue why, but camping shed a little light on his situation.


This seventy-five pound Chocolate Labrador Mix is the sweetest boy. I call him my velcro dog as he typically has to be on lap. He takes over my body if I am reclining. Maybe in a previous life he had been a lap dog.
Ricky, AKA Sparky, came to me just a little over three years ago. I tell him he has Angel-Wing ears and has been my Angel in saving me from myself. Every dog that has entered my life has had impeccable timing. How do they know?
This weekend I got to repay him with a partial payment. 
All was well at campsite 26. Tent was up.  We found a trail for the dogs to play in the creek. I was having fun rounding up kindling for the camp fire. Small group. Angie, Ariel, Sylvia, and I. We had never camped together, and things were going great.  I had always wanted to get to know A&A other than softball.
Night was falling. Friday was playing revelry. The first time Ricky tried to leave the camp site, I was surprised. He had been astronomically good in not taking after the chipmunks and little children. Typically he sticks close. For example, today  I had left the front gate wide open for several hours, and none of my dogs left.
Abby only leaves when I have left her behind. Ricky doesn’t leave even if I have left. He is a true home body.


I had to resort to the leash after Ricky was adamant that he had to take a walk. I am glad I didn’t have to tie him up.
My attempt to persuade him to come with me to the fire only caused him to resist as strongly as possible. At one point I ended as over tea kettle. Ricky was pulling on the leash with a large rock between us. I only scrapped my knee and muffled the profanities.
I offered Ricky asylum in the Subaru. I had never seen him in such a state. His ears were folded back with fear.  Was it the camp fire?


He and I stayed in the Forester for an hour or so.  I did manage to get him out for our last business walk of the night.
Next day was the closest thing I have had to being in Nirvana. Cool water. Swimming dogs. Everyone had a great time.
Dusk fell. Joyce was a great addition to the fire circle and dinner. Ricky was starting to get anxious. It didn’t take much of a signal before I realized he needed car time. Maybe something bad happened around a fire?
There was a lull in activity and conversation. Perfect time to work with Ricky. I really wanted to know what was triggering his fight or flight reflexes. I managed to get him close to the fire. When he resisted,  I stopped, allowing him to set the boundaries. He was enjoying the beef Jerky snacks.
And then I mentioned Walmart. Talk about a political fire starter. Raised voices. The F-Bomb landed. Ricky reacted almost immediately. Good thing I was planted on the ground as he could easily have taken me for a ride.
As a result, I figured out that a passionate, albeit loud and profanity riddled, discussion was causing Ricky to slip a gasket.
Now I have to figure out how to counter his reaction and somehow slip some positive reinforcement into the scenario. It might be a month or year before a repeat performance happens since typically my home is very calm.




  1. Rawhide chewies… I used to buy them by the bagful. My dogs loved them! Then, not long ago, I was researching new dog kibble and stumbled onto some literature about how those rawhide chewies are quite bad, actually, for dogs. I had stopped buying them long ago… and now only give my dogs those Kong toys that are really indestructible. They bounce when they are dropped and Kip goes nuts with delight at that. But no more chewies… they have chemicals in them and also they can clog up a dog’s plumbing… It was hard to stop using them as they kept my dogs busy and happy for hours, but we’ve moved on now. You might want to investigate giving them those rawhide chewies…

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