Sam, the dog that was meant to be with Marcia (part 1)

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“It’s really crazy.  I wanted a dog for 20 years, but job-wise I couldn’t take care of one.

I got laid off and was free-lancing from home.  I was daydreaming of having this imaginary dog.  He went with me wherever I went.

One afternoon I was walking with a friend in Central Park for exercise and I told her, you are going to think I’m a nutcase, but I’ve been having this imaginary dog.  We started laughing and 20 minutes later we came upon a woman sitting on a bench with a puppy that looked like a dandelion of puff.  He was just a little ball of fur.  My friend said, you should ask if you can pet him, so I did.  The next thing I knew I was holding him and petting him.

The woman said, he’s actually up for adoption.

The foster family that had him wasn’t a good fit for several reasons.  The biggest was that he had terrible separation anxiety.  When I picked him up from his foster home, the doorman told me they were gone of long periods of time and he would bark for 10 hours straight.

I had to break him of his separation anxiety.

I started to carry him around in a little chest pouch.  We were together 24/7.  I started the separation very slowly.  I made it into a game.  I would close the bathroom door and open it quickly.  I gave him positive reinforcement and a treat before he had time to get anxious.   I extended the time every day.  I always did it as play to make it less scary and build trust.

I wanted him to know I was always coming back.

The first time I left him alone it was for 4 hours and he cried.”

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