We got Saffy from a foster home in Bicester.She was very beautiful but very nervous having been in the dog pound before being fostered. When she came to us Saffy had a tail that was like a thin whip, with none of the normal Saluki feathering, but with a mass of scabs from where she had chewed her own tail in the pound, presumably out of anxiety. On her first night home Saffy was so scared that she actually hyperventilated, and only after a couple of hours of gentle stroking did she calm down enough to sleep. Little did we know that this was to be the start of a long journey for Saffy.
Saffy continued to suffer from dreadful anxiety - she would wee or poo instantly if myself and my husband left the room, and this became so bad that we had to get our carpets replaced with hard flooring. We managed to train Saffy out of this habit, only to discover that she would shred and chew anything she could find if she was left alone for even a short period of time. This also resulted in her destroying the new hard floor covering. Saffy was also extremely excitable - she once jumped out of a first floor window in order to greet our next door neighbour - thankfully she didn't break any bones!
We decided that our attempts to train Saffy out of her anxiety were not enough, so we took her to our vets to get some help. The vet gave us anti anxiety tablets and recommended that we take Saffy to see a behaviourist, which we did. The combination of the tablets and some behavioural training really helped. We could at least leave Saffy alone for short periods without risk of damage either to her or our home. During this time Saffy became much more manageable, and after about 18 months she was able to come off her tablets and just have a plug in pheromone vapouriser to soothe her.
We had two children over the next two years, and Saffy was the loveliest, most gentle companion to our babies. (We also have two cats, and Saffy is so gentle with them that one of the cats likes to curl up with her!) The only problem was that with new 'pack' members to look after, Saffy became more anxious again. I must confess that with two children under 2, I felt overwhelmed by her destructiveness , and seriously considered sending Saffy to be rehomed. It was only because my husband pointed out that Saffy was unlikely to recover from being re homed again that we decided that we had to keep trying, however hard it was.
Twelve years on, Saffy is now nearing the end of her life. Having become relatively calm for a couple of years, Saffy recently became more neurotic than ever before. She became so distressed - whimpering, moaning, chewing stuff, peeing and pooing in the house, and shaking violently every time she thought we might be going out or leaving her. Having consulted a vet, we think it is likely that Saffy has Senile Dementia. This presented us with a dilemma. Saffy is a healthy dog, but no amount of drugs would prevent her from deteriorating further mentally, and her distress was becoming unbearable for her and us. So we took a big risk and got a puppy. After a few grumbles in the first week, Saffy and Reg have been inseparable. Saffy still has anxiety - she still shakes when we leave the house - but she now has someone to keep her company at all times, and she now plays for a large part of the day. Reg is a Jack Russell terrier, and he loves Saffy passionately. Getting Reg was a big risk which could have backfired badly, but thankfully we now have two very happy dogs, and we are glad to know that we will have done everything that we can for this gentle, neurotic, loving dog.
I am so glad that we have persevered.
We love her very much.