A woman has been left in a bit of a pickle thanks to her dog who ate her passport just before her honeymoon.
Amanda Avila, 47, bought mixed-breed Dillon during lockdown and she works from home, so he’s used to having her around all the time.
Amanda, from Fort Collins, in Colorado, US, said: ‘I got Dillon as a Covid puppy.
‘He was my quarantine dog and had never been apart from me.’
The mum-of-two and newlywed states projects manager recently celebrated tying the knot with husband Rudy, 48, and the pair were looking forward to jetting off in October for a honeymoon.
But Dillon, it seems, had other ideas.
‘I went to New York for almost two weeks in June,’ said Amanda, ‘and he wasn’t happy with me after that.
‘But when I went to Iceland at the beginning of August, that sent him over the top.
‘Within a day of being home, he’d chewed up my passport, his “doggles”, his sunglasses that he’s supposed to wear, and one of my favourite boots – just one of the pair.’
Amanda thinks devious Dillon acted out because he was sad that he’d been left behind for another trip.
This is a common issue among pet owners who took in animals amid the restrictions of Covid – when your dog or cat becomes used to you always being around, separation anxiety can strike the moment you leave again.
Dr Tammie King, pet behaviourist at Mars Petcare told Metro.co.uk: ‘Pets can suffer from separation anxiety at any time, but lockdown has likely made it a more common problem.
‘It’s particularly challenging if your dog or cat was acquired during lockdown and has never experienced any extended amount of time away from you.’
Separation anxiety can show up in a number of ways, including changes in eating habits, whining, peeing in places the pet normally wouldn’t, pacing, panting, and destructive behaviour – as seems to be the case with Dillon.
‘My bag was still at the foot of the bed because I’d got in at midnight the night before,’ said Amanda. ‘I had to work that morning, so I didn’t do any unpacking then – I had to get straight to work.
‘I came upstairs after having my morning coffee, and it was all over the floor.
Six steps to help pets deal with separation anxiety
Create a safe and happy space
This should be a fun place with a bed, toys, water etc. Regularly take your pet here to teach them it is a good place to be. Feeding meals in this area helps build positive associations.
Enclose your pet in this safe place with a treat while you go to another room briefly. Return and release your pet without making a fuss. Repeat, and gradually increase the time you are away in small increments.
Leave and arrive quietly
Always keep your hellos and goodbyes low key. Leaving and homecoming rituals should involve minimal fuss, it helps your pet to understand that your absence isn’t anything to worry about. Prolonged goodbyes may increase their anxiety.
While it’s best not to make a big fuss when you first arrive home, it’s important to strike a balance between teaching them how to cope on their own, with giving plenty of attention and affection when you’re together.
Develop a consistent, predictable routine
If you’re in lockdown or working from home more than usual, it’s tempting to enjoy lots of time with your pet. But establishing a routine that more closely resembles pre-lockdown life, or what your routine is likely to be when restrictions relax, is more beneficial for your dog. A consistent routine enables your dog to predict what will happen next and goes a long way to reducing their stress levels.
Make sure they stay active (physically and mentally)
Before your pet has some time alone, make sure they’ve had enough exercise – especially for active dogs. Go for walks, play games and teach new tricks using positive reinforcement. If they’re a little tired, then they’re more likely to have a nap while you’re away or at least find it easier to relax.
Keep them occupied and calm
When you leave your pet, make sure they have a quiet comfortable place to rest with a special treat or toy to occupy them. You could also leave a blanket or piece of clothing carrying your scent with them, as this may help to comfort them.
Leave a TV or radio on
If you leave a TV or radio on or play some music while you’re away, this can also help to soothe your pet. It will make the house feel less quiet in your absence and dampen any external noise which may startle your pet.
Dr Tammie King, pet behaviourist at Mars Petcare
‘I walked in to find a ripped-up passport. I don’t know how he targeted that one.
‘It was in the front pouch of my carry-on backpack, but he sniffed that out and ripped it up.’
With her honeymoon, another trip to Iceland, planned for just a couple of months away at that point, Amanda had to write a panicked letter to the passport office that enclosed her destroyed passport to apply for a replacement.
But when they asked for even more details, Amanda decided to have a little fun.
She said: ‘I had sent in my application to the passport office with the ripped-up passport as evidence but they wanted an explanation as to why.
‘The teeth marks weren’t quite enough explanation I guess.
‘I didn’t have to do the pictures, but I thought it would be fun.
‘You might as well make a joke of it, there’s really not any point in stressing over things you can’t control.
‘In the pictures, he’s eating the curriculum I write. They’re from a year prior when I was home all the time.
‘That’s how he would try to get me to stop working, he would take my books away from me.
‘I would sit on the bed, so he could be close to me with my laptop, but he would take away the manuals I have to work on and write.’
As of the time of this interview, Amanda had still not heard anything back from the passport office, so she doesn’t know if the honeymoon – another trip to Iceland – will be able to happen.
She said: ‘I’ve got a little bit of a tense wait before my honeymoon.
‘We actually got married four times this year. We’re doing different types of weddings for different people and the honeymoon is the end of it all.
‘In 2022, we bought a home, got married four times and we’re supposed to go on his honeymoon – but we’ll have to wait and see.’
Amanda's letter to the passport office in full
As requested, this serves as a signed statement explaining the damaged and mutilated condition of my passport book.
Upon return from an international trip to Iceland, my dog went into my luggage and retrieved the (now mutilated) passport in your possession and ate some of it as a snack before I discovered him.
Pictured is the offending culprit demonstrating his enjoyment of snacks in the form of books.
He is lucky he is cute. We plan to return to Iceland (without the passport eater) for our honeymoon, departing October [date redacted], 2022.
Dillon (pictured) says he is very sorry and knows you must be busy replacing eaten passports because they are tasty.
He promises never to do it again, mostly because his mom (me) vows to keep the passport in the safe when not in use and immediately upon return from trips.
Thank you for your understanding.
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