If you've ever visited Red Bucket Farm, you know that we have a loud and protective dog. Beta is a German Shepherd mix. She came to us in 2006 after having survived a couple of different shelter situations. At first Beta was afraid of nearly everything, but given time and love she slowly recovered. Beta is occasionally helpful on the farm, herding chickens and chasing squirrels. She's in charge of farm security, but mostly she's just a good companion.
Over the last several months, we've noticed that Beta no longer enjoyed her daily walks around the neighborhood. It came on gradually. She didn't seem to be afraid of anything necessarily, but she didn't want to go outside very much at all. As the spring rolled into summer, her reluctance grew even more. By June, she refused to walk entirely. I would hold her on the leash at the end of the driveway and she would simply refuse to move. I finally gave up and left her alone, abandoning our daily walks. I knew she was physically healthy, but I wondered about her mental health. Eventually, we got her to the veterinarian for a check up and we decided to put her on anti-depressant medication for a few months.
Beta is much better now, but after some reflection, we don't think her recovery has much to do with medication. We suspect that Beta has been protecting the human she loves the most in the whole world--my husband. In early June, Mr. Red Bucket had his right hip replaced. The previous six months were painful for him as the cartilage in his hip wore away entirely. Of course the rest of the family was willing to walk the dog, but some people prefer to persevere in pain rather than sit around. Using trekking poles, he would walk slowly with the dog trailing behind him.
Recovery has been sweet. My husband and the dog walk every morning. Beta's ears are up, her tail wagging, and she's leading the way once again. If that's not love, I don't know what is.