A patient of mine, Cory, was rescued this week. He had escaped from a kennel and was missing for 17 days. Rescuers found him 5 miles away.
Cory was brought in to see me as soon as he was found. We sat down and talked about his adventure.
Me: What happened, Cory? Did you bolt?
Cory: Don’t want to talk about it. PTSD, you know.
Me: I see.
Cory: I was left in a basement a couple years ago. Then rescued. Don’t want to go there again.
Me: Got it.
Cory: Felt trapped. Like they weren’t coming back for me.
Me: I escaped from a sleepover once.
Cory: A sleepover?
Me: It’s like when your parents put you in a kennel. You’re supposed to sleep there.
Cory: Did you like it there?
Me: My aunt’s bed smelled funny.
Cory: Told you. Things should smell like home!
Me: But you risked your life.
Cory: Didn’t care. I didn’t know those kennel people.
Me: But you did know them. You were at that kennel before. You liked them.
Cory: You knew your aunt, didn’t you? It just wasn’t home!
Me: Point taken.
Cory: Something felt different this time. Like Woof and Poof were leaving me for a while.
Me: Oh. Like the suitcases were out, they were packing and stuff?
Cory: Exactly. I thought they were never coming back for me. I bolted.
Me: Scary decision, bud.
Cory: The name is Cory. Lots of us are named “Bud.”
Me: Sorry. What did you do next?
Cory: A lot of traffic. Caught between the Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot and Whole Foods stuff. You people buy such crap and drive so fast.
Cory: What’s with the Whole Foods? Are there Partial Foods?
Me: So you got out of the traffic?
Cory: Ran behind the kennel. Into the woods. Away from the cars.
Me: But you were under lock and key, right? That kennel is as tight as Fort Knox.
Cory: Don’t go there.
Me: Guess we both just wanted to get home. I was only 5 years old at the time of my escape.
Cory: Well, I’m 8. Older and smarter than you.
Me: Guess it’s all water under the bridge.
Cory: Hey, I was under a bridge for 2 nights!
Me: Oh, dear.
Cory: Were your people mad at you?
Me: My people were happy to get me home safe.
Cory: Me too. I got the kennel people into trouble. Feel kind of bad about that.
Me: Well, I’m happy to see you back. You only lost a few pounds. How’d you eat?
Cory: Found some cat food. Humans kept putting food out for me because of my Facebook page. I ate it when they all went to bed.
Me: And the diarrhea?
Cory: Partial Foods diarrhea, I guess. I ate little parts of stuff. You can fix me, right?
Me: Sure. Some meds for the diarrhea and a bland diet. I hate to get personal, but we might have to treat you for some transmissible parasitic diseases.
Cory: What about these skin sores?
Me: Got those under the bridge?
Cory: I slept in some pretty rough places.
Me: No need for personal details, man.
Cory: You mean dog.
Me: The skin issue is minor. Antibiotics for 10 days. And a bath.
Cory: Nope. No bath.
Me: A bath is nothing after what you’ve been through. How are you doing mentally?
Cory: Told you. PTSD, man. Sorry — woman.
Me: Want to talk about it?
Cory: No. Need to get home to Woof and Poof. Write this in my record: “No canine psych consult needed.”
Me: A psych consult might be a good idea.
Cory: OK. Shut your muzzle and listen.
Me: We call it a mouth.
Cory: Those kennel people couldn’t pick up that I was terrified. The look in my eyes. My tail down. Panting. Terror coming up from my paws to my heart beating out of my chest. I got away. I was giving them so many cues, but they couldn’t read me. Different language.
Me: You sound kind of canine dramatic.
Cory: Tell Woof and Poof they should never board me again.
Me: I’m prescribing some new meds for when you get nervous or sick in the car. You’re going to Cape Cod this weekend.
Me: I hope humans can help you in the future.
Cory: I kind of love most of you. Wag my tail a lot. But you need to get it when we’re scared. No dog should ever go through what I went through.
Me: We’re only human. You’re probably smarter than us. Canine–human communication has to get better.
Cory: Just remember that most of us are not mean. Just confused. We might look at you funny because we can’t read you either. If you just show us lots of love, we’ll show it back. I’m starting to sound like a Hallbark card now. Time to end this interview.