Munchausen By Proxy in Dogs - What Would You Do?
Ok, Iím still a newbie here so please forgive me for posting this in the newbie's area. (This is the only place I can post anything). - Maybe it could be moved when moderated to a more suitable location?
Now, just to clarify, I do not have Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome. My wee Chi Chico is in superb health. My problem is that I know a dog which is a victim of his owner projecting lots of illnesses onto him and it has completely broken my heart. Hereís my story:
I live on a tiny Island called Gozo in the Mediterranean and last year was my year from hell. Out of the blue, my life partner decided to break up after eight years and run off with all our money. From May to December I was, therefore, in crisis mode trying to work, save, and keep a roof over me and my dog Chicoís head. Then, walking home one day, a tiny stray Chi came running up to me and literally into my arms.
He was just skin and bone. He had barely any fur. He was infested with ticks and fleas, and I simply couldnít walk on by. In this case, I picked him up, isolated him in my bathroom, and when my dog Chico was fed, I sat and scrubbed the new little man in the bath. De-flead and wormed, I then introduced the new little man to my dog and made him dinner.
There was only one problem. My landlord hated dogs. There was no way I could keep the new Chi and so the next day I planned to take him to the local SPCA animal shelter (which never euthanize animals). On my way there, though, I met an older lady who had just moved to the area and she said, ďoh donít take him to the SPCA, if you can keep him for a week, Iíll take him when I move into my new house.Ē
Stupidly, I agreed to this, even though I didnít know this person very well. Then, 1-week turned into 2-months as the lady in question was delayed in moving out of her hotel and into her new home. Whatís more, in this time, I and the new dog who I named Aries became great friends. I house trained him. I walked him 3 times a day with my existing Chi, and his health improved amazingly. But he had to go...
Finally handing him over with a supply of food and his doggy bed and a few blankets, I initially decided to stay away while Aries got accustomed to his new home. The only problem was, I had just unknowingly re-homed him with a maniac.
Susan (a completely fake name I just made up for this post) didnít walk Aries, aside from once in the morning around the corner (about 30 yards) to where she had coffee. She then started to complain that Aries was having his number one toilet movements inside, even though she had a garden which she could easily open the door to three times a day. And.... Well, Aries just started to deteriorate.
In this case, I decided to call around once every afternoon, pick Aries up and take him on a long walk with my dog. Whatís more, he loved this. Then one day, I noticed that he had fleas again and told Susan, his new owner, what she should buy to remedy this. What resulted, however, was a debate about whether or not Aries had fleas or not, followed by an accusation that if he did, he must have caught them from my dog.
I was shocked by this. You could see the fleas with your own eyes and in summer where I live, every dog needs treating for fleas at some point. What I was more shocked by, though, was the fact that Aries new owner was telling people how in the past, Aries had been horribly abused and thatís when I realized that his new owner was really not the right person to keep any animal.
If Aries was sick, the symptoms would be ignored. While he wasnít, however, he would have different sicknesses projected onto him and be constantly fed garbage. All he has to do is move and he gets an almost meal sized treat, as well as a pile of the cheapest wet food twice a day. Moreover, literally in the space of a few months, his teeth yellowed, his poops loosened, and his coat started to get patchy.
And then all hell broke loose. I had to move to a new area at the last minute and this meant that I couldnít walk Aries every day anymore.
That said, prior to leaving, I took him (and his new owner) with me to my vet for a thorough checkup, the result of this was a clean bill of health. What upset me about this experience, however, was that at the end of the check-up, Aries new owner burst out with a story about how Aries constantly marks his territory inside and that she was hoping that having him castrated would fix this. To my horror, the vet said yes and while this might be true, I was a bit thrown by how someone can keep a dog locked inside for 23 hours a day and be confused when they wee! This and how Aries owner managed to craft her argument in such a way which purposefully ommitted this very key piece of information.
Anyway, fast forward 3 months and I decided to call in on my old Ďfriendí and I was horrified. Aries was a pup and is now a bloated old man who whimpers rather than barks or makes his usual dog noises. Apparently, after I left, his new owner started going backward and forwards to a new vet to have problems such as, ĎAries doesnít know when he is poopingí investigated. - i.e. I didnít let this dog outside for two days and he just pooped in the kitchen.
The result of this is that he is on daily steroids for a broken back (which was diagnosed without X-rays). Worse, his middle feels like a blown up ball, he wheezes, and Iím completely devastated. In this case, I asked if I could take him for the weekend every week to take him on walks etc. His new owner, however, said no. She doesnít trust ME to attend to all of his complex medical needs and apparently, she needs to call the vet every 3 days to update him on how his latest medication is working.
I then asked if I could at least take him for a walk. His owner said yes but as soon as she started to suspect that I didnít agree with how she was looking after Aries, told me that no, I couldnít even take him for a walk.
Now, to put this in some more perspective, this person seems to have a need for contact with authority figures. She has no money but often approaches real estate agents to get driven round and shown houses which she presumably plans on purchasing. In like regard, she schedules meetings with lawyers to discuss setting up a business, even though she has no real means or plans to. This being the case, I feel that she is now trying to get the attention she needs from a vet who she can see each week and list a host of imaginary medical problems. In fact, I think this is precisely why she has chosen to take Aries to a new vet rather than the one who I originally registered him at. My vet, after all, certainly wouldnít mediate a dog for a spinal injury without an X-ray.
Sadly, as well as already feeling responsible for this, I have likely just made things worse by making my thoughts on the matter known to Aries owner. On my last visit, there was a distinct impression from the moment I walked in the door that I was being made to sit and be told how dire Aries health problems were and at the very first suggestion from me that these might not be real, I was told that I would be asked to leave if I continued questioning the matter.
Then it just got weird as I was told that I was to blame for these problems, namely because I never realized things like Aries didnít know when he was pooping and I made him walk too much when I used to take him. So, I lost it. I told Aries owner that she clearly needed Aries to be sick and that not letting me even take him for a walk simply didnít make any logical sense. In fact, I then got thrown out for saying this.
The thing is, I need a way to fix this.
I canít take Aries on as it is incredibly difficult to find a landlord where I live who will allow you to have one dog, never mind two. In an ideal world, Iíd therefore like Aries to simply be put in the care of a shelter which will find him a new, more responsible owner. The only question is, how do I fight someone who has a vet who (presumably because they like the regular income) is actually enabling this situation?
Iím sorry for the long post. This really is just breaking my heart and I need to both get the matter off my chest and reach out for a solution.