M, Sammy’s other mom, gave me a very extensive list of Sammy’s issues before we took him home. Turns out he was quite allergic to some things like wheat, chicken and all poultry, which I assumed meant eggs too. She said he would do a lot of scratching, which he certainly was doing. He might have had fleas. He was on the last two treatments for them, so the scratching may have been from them.
His food was pretty specific: oatmeal, which he loved, mixed with a grain-free Alberta-sourced dog food. I soaked it till it was soft and mixed it up for him.
Still, he wouldn’t eat for a week. He wouldn’t take treats either, even the ones M gave me and said were his favourites.
He stuck to me like glue, and I would take him up to his dish, trying to get him to eat. He would not. At first I thought it was because he was missing his other family and was sad. That certainly must have been a large part of it.
But I think it was more than that. I think it was his way of rebelling. After a few days, when I offered him his special treat, he would sniff it, then lick his lips. I knew he wanted it, but he would not take it.
M had told me, “He’s not food-motivated.” This meant he couldn’t be trained by giving him the reward of a treat or any kind of food.
I realized that this small dog must have been through a lot of abuse in his past, but instead of allowing his spirit to be broken, he chose the only thing he could to rebel. It’s like he was saying, “I don’t have control over anything you do to me because you’re bigger. But I can “not eat” at you—so there!”
After about a week, he finally ate. I had to stand guard over him. Theo, my husband, could not be in the room. If he heard a noise, he would back away from his dish and look around worriedly for Theo. If he was satisfied he was not around, he might come back and take another mouthful. He would take a bite, stop, lift his head and listen. If all was quiet, he would go for another bite. Any loud noise would end the meal and he would retreat to his basket. Even if I moved away a few feet, still within sight, he would stop eating.
Drinking water was an event.
He would not drink water all day. None. At night, when it was dark, that was his signal to unwind. If the conditions were right: The Ogre (Theo) out of sight, no sounds, mom (me) within reach, then he would drink.
What a production! Slurp, slurp, slurp till the water dish was almost empty. He would drink like he’d been in the desert for days and finally found an oasis. He would do this once. I never saw him casually take a few slurps here and there throughout the day.
I was hoping he would do it a little earlier in the evening so he had time to pee before going to bed, but nope. He was gonna eat and drink late at night and that was it.
Well, at least he was eating, and we figured, “You can lead a Sammy to water, but you can’t make him drink—until it’s dark out.”