Two weeks after arriving in our home, Tala has really turned a corner.

For about two weeks, she was extremely hyperactive. All young dogs have a lot of energy, but this little girl was just bouncing off the walls. Then, all of a sudden, she settled down.

I realize now that the hyperactivity was her response to the overwhleming change that had been foisted on her.

When we adopted Gypsy, our first dog, from death row at the ASPCA, she was depressed. She had very little personality (boy, would that soon change), and did little but sleep. More recently, Cody was depressed when we first moved to Canada, and then again when we moved to the new house. So I was looking for that type of behavior in Tala. Not seeing it, I mistakenly thought that she showed no signs of missing her foster family, had no difficulty adjusting.

But just as people respond to crises in different ways, dogs do, too. In fact, some people, when overwhelmed with a life change, become hyper, zooming from one activity to the next, unable to sit still. And that's what Tala was doing.

I've heard from many people that dogs usually adjust to a new circumstances in about two weeks. When one dog in a family dies, the surviving dog often mourns for two weeks, then snaps out of it. Coming to a new home, which is an upheaval of enormous magnitude, the adjustment period will often last about two weeks. The two examples I mentioned, Gypsy and Cody, were both depressed for about two weeks. I don't know if there's evidence to back this up, but many people I know have observed it.

Now it seems that, two weeks in, Tala has decided that this is her home.

Right now she's dancing around the backyard with a toy in her mouth, bucking and jumping and floundering through the snow, having a great time, all by herself. Cody's standing in a corner of the yard, watching.


M@ said...

Awwww, how great. Good for Tala!

The dog-dance always makes me so happy to watch.

laura k said...

Me too. It's pure joy - the embodiment of joy.

A kind of PS to this post. A psychologist who specializes in post-traumatic stress syndrome once told me that humans can exist in a state of crisis for only 6 weeks.

Six weeks, she said, appears to be the limit of how long a person can live in a state of extreme anxiety and agitation. After that, the internal situation must change.

If the person has gotten help, they will start to feel somewhat more normal and be able to get back into some semblance of a normal life. If they have not, that's when the serious trouble can start, as the crisis is buried.

David Cho said...


Noah and I have moved only once, and in the first couple of days he did seem a bit reserved and tentative. But it was the same kind of behavior he exhibits when we visit a friend's that he has never been to, and I think he was expecting to "go home."

But I am not sure if he was depressed. Aren't people that dogs are with more important than the environment? Why would you say Cody was depressed?

Good to hear Tala is setting in.

laura k said...

Aren't people that dogs are with more important than the environment?

Probably, in most cases, yes. But perhaps the stress of the move (a 10-hr drive in the back of a van amongst boxes), not seeing her dogwalker friends anymore, the new routine, new smells - I don't know what did it exactly - but she was not herself.

Why would you say Cody was depressed?

Very quiet, lethargic, sleeping a lot, keeping to herself, not eating much. She seemed sad. She wasn't even interested in playing with Buster.

It lasted about 10 days or 2 weeks - then she just snapped out of it.