Barry's Journey

Barry came into my life as a fifteen-week-old puppy. He was one of four red and tan kelpie puppies from a large sheep station in NSW. They were from an unplanned litter and were surrendered to a working dog rescue organisation when they were approximately six weeks old.

The four puppies were very unwell when they first arrived at the rescue organisation's foster care. They were all suffering from a huge worm burden which was adding to their emaciated malnourished state. Due to the pups being in such poor health they were put into what the rescue organisation referred to as quarantine care, to ensure the puppies received the level of care they needed without compromising any other pups/dogs in foster care.

At even the young age of fifteen weeks old, Barry had been through quite an ordeal. So, it wasn't a little surprise that as he grew, some behavioural issues started to immerge. It is so easy to overlook the first few weeks and months of Barry’s life and brush his rough start under the rug. However, those early months, weeks and even days have a huge impact on any animal’s development.

Barry’s issues continued to immerge, particularly his hyperarousal and high reactiveness. The once happy puppy started to show uncertainty with other dogs, particularly after we said goodbye to my beautiful old border collie x cattle dog when he was just a year old. His tail chasing, noise obsession, dog aggression and general hyperactivity took on a whole new level and we knew Barry’s mental health was not something we could tackle on our own anymore.

I am very fortunate to work in the industry I do as it enabled me to have access to the help Barry needed and will likely need for the rest of his life. After seeking advice from some of the vets I am fortunate enough to work with, he was started on a course of medication to start the process of managing and hopefully reducing his hyperarousal and reactivity.

Barry and I relocated back to Adelaide from Brisbane 3 years ago which brought its own set of challenges, however since working at AdelaideVet, Barry’s behavioural issues have been under the care of Dr Eleanor Parker and the behaviour services at AdelaideVet.

Barry is now 4 years old and with Dr Elle’s help, we have been working on finding the right medication combination and dose to give him the best chance of living the best he can life he possibly can. Each day has its challenges and some days we take two steps forwards and three steps back, but if anyone has been fortunate enough to have, what I call a ‘special needs fur child’ like Barry, you will understand that although it can be a hard and emotional journey, it can be an extremely rewarding one too. My advice to anyone with an animal that needs a little extra care, there is no quick fix, keep persevering, do your research and don’t ever hesitate to ask for professional veterinary help. There are some incredibly skilled animal professionals available who are worth their weight in gold. The right support team for both yourself and your fur child will make all the difference.

Written by Olivia Coates, Veterinary Nurse.

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