We’ve seen countless examples of amazing pets who teach us valuable life lessons about what life and living is all about. Arnold and Frank are an unlikely pair of best friends that show us how to help one another when life turns upside down. Traumatic life experiences can impact your dog as profoundly as it can a human. Fear can lower self confidence and create a daily nightmare of being scared and feeling anxious. We can learn from the example set by Arnold, a Weimaraner from Australia about moving on and enjoying life to its fullest.
Recently, Arnold’s story emerged in the New York Post, and it discussed how he was mauled at the age of 2, by a larger German Shepherd breed. The experience left him bloodied and emotionally scarred. His owner shared how the young dog who previously had bouts of separation anxiety grew more fearful and skittish around large dogs, especially when they barked. The mauling event had caused him more distress than ever. Arnold’s owner adopted a puppy named Frank, who is a miniature dachshund. As it turned out, the small pup took to the role of emotional support pal for Arnold. While we most often hear of humans being helped by emotional support pets, it was a dog who was in need of the love and support that Frank was willing to give. The two formed a strong emotional bond and the fact that they’re so different in size has no bearing on the connection they share.
Frank and Arnold are celebrities
The best friends have been the subject of a great deal of attention as their story has been shared by the press. Frank who is tiny compared to Arnold is filled with self-confidence, and Arnold, through the support of his tiny buddy has found a way to get his confidence back without fear that he will be harmed. Frank has been the ideal therapy dog for Arnold, and their owner shares the progress that Arnold has made on a joint Instagram account for the world to see.
Pet anxiety is real
Some pet owners take the anxiety of their fur babies as something they’ll “get over” or outgrow, but this is not usually the case. Dogs have strong emotions and the more intelligent breeds, tend to react strongly to traumatic experiences. They remember and take steps to avoid being hurt again. Often, it’s in the form of withdrawal and lost confidence. The California SPCA, sees many cases of anxiety in dogs from abandonment, and living in the environment of a shelter without their own loving families. They offer recommendations for helping canine victims of trauma to overcome their feelings of anxiousness and for regaining confidence to live a healthy and happy life. Recommendations that you can try at home include:
- Touching and physical contact – Spending time with your do to make him feel safe and secure, hold him, cuddle with him, give him a good scratch and rub session, and help him to know that he is loved and valued. This can soothe his anxiety and reinforce the fact that he is in a safe place.
- Give him exercise – Exercise is beneficial for dogs because it helps them to burn off the excess energy stored from worry and anxiety. It gets his mind off his worries and if you take him out for a walk or to play fetch, it reinforces the bonding process. Let him get some healthy exercise and have a little fun in the process. When he brings back the fetched item, let him know he did a good job.
- Provide a safe and quiet space – When your dog is experiencing anxiety, allow him to go to his safe place. Make sure that there is a comfortable bed for him to lie on and have a few of his favorite toys in the area. Sometimes a quiet and comfortable environment can be a big help. You can further enhance this by giving him a belly massage to help him relax and and calm down.
- Instilling confidence in your dog – As we learned from Arnold, a negative experience can shake a dog’s self-confidence dramatically. There are a few things that you can an do to help your pet regain his confidence. Pet Behavioral therapist Patricia Bentz has a few tips. Taking your pet to a dog obedience class can help him to regain his self confidence. A professional pet behavioral therapist can work with your pet with proven methods of helping him to overcome his fears. When you’re doing everything that you can at home, it’s sometimes beneficial to get the advice and help of a trained professional who is skilled in working with dogs who have been the victims of trauma.
Pet anxiety can ruin the quality of life for a beloved pet who has been the victim of unfortunate circumstances. Sometimes, the love of his family, or in Arnold’s case, another caring pet can help them to regain the confidence that was lost. Arnold and Frank’s story teaches us several things about life in general. We realize that dogs can have compassion for one another and they can help each other through rough times. The same is true for humans. The story shows how much it can mean to have a friend who is there with us through thick and thin, and it can help us to get through some of the scarier parts of life and to move on to rebuild a happy life. Fear has a great impact on both humans and animals, and there are times when we need to recognize that it’s time to call for help. For some pets, it will come in the form of professional pet behaviorists, and for others, it can be something as simple as a new best friend, like Frank, the dog’s support dog.