I've always been involved in animal causes and often write about them in my books. I see pets, not as window dressing for the plot, but as secondary characters because I believe pets are very important in many people's lives. I know after the death of my mother, followed quickly by the death of my husband that there were days I wouldn't have gotten out of bed, if it hadn't been for my golden retrievers Abbie, Redd, and Zach.
I had Zach and Abbie's mother, Lexi, but Redd is a dog I rescued. He had his papers, but he was one day from death when I got him. He's a total love now, but in the beginning. . .
Redd would cower in the corner when it was time to eat, acting as if he expected me to slam his bowl down on his head. He refused to eat unless humans were not in the room. This baffled me since he would take food out of my hand without hesitation. I figured someone must have hit him with his bowl or tormented him when he ate.
I tried everything I could think of, exhausted my long time vet with questions. Then someone told me about Tuft University's Veterinary School's Pet Fax Program. They have animal behaviorists who fax you an extensive list (about 10 pages) of questions. You answer them and they respond with a way to modify the pet's behavior as well as several other helpful tips about modifying behavior.
It costs $75. I did it and can tell you it worked for us. Redd is now a much better adjusted dog. The bowl phobia is gone. It didn't happen overnight, but I followed the steps and I can now stand next to him when he eats.
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