Tag Archives: adoption

Let’s Go Backwards and Criminalize Abortion, Again! My Story: Part Two

My disclaimer:

I know that self-disclosure can be a dangerous thing. With all that is going on in Texas, South Dakota, and other communities across the country, I feel a need to go there with a couple of personal stories. First and foremost, it is not my intent to debate right or wrong. Second, all I can really do is tell you how it was in my life. Third, pray that you don’t have to make the sorts of difficult decisions I have had to make. Finally, wish you the best possible outcome if you have faced or are facing similar circumstances, or know someone in such a situation.

Continuation from Yesterday’s Post:

It was 1978; I was not yet 18 years old, with a son not yet two years, an abusive, estranged husband in Germany, and an abortion two weeks behind me. I had spent the last two weeks sitting in the living room floor with my son in my arms, crying, and listening to Linda Ronstadt albums, over and over. Linda Ronstadt gave way to Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks and slowly I began to feel less sorry for myself.

I still had my job as a nursing assistant at the local hospital, but I had spent most of my money on the abortion. I knew that I could not stay in my apartment, but I had no idea where I could go. My grandparents, a hundred miles away, were clueless to all that was going on with me. I did not feel that I should trouble them.

One night, at the hospital, I met a man, D.H., who was at the hospital because a female friend of his, A.L., had overdosed. On what, I don’t know, probably Quaaludes and Tequila, since that was the passing fancy. The drug culture was not new to me as my husband and his friends were in the thick of it before he joined the Army. It was just not something I personally imbibed, except for an occasional smoke or a very rare snort of a line…which did absolutely nothing for me. It was certainly not something I wanted my son exposed to. Yet, this man made me an offer I could not refuse.

D.H. was of Polk County Pot Plane fame. (I won’t go into the details of that, you can look it up on the web, a “B” movie was made about it [the movie is a joke, not at all how things really happened]). He had led the group who unloaded the plane and had a 75 acre pot farm hidden away in the North Georgia Mountains. D.H. was a Grizzly Adams type of guy, with long, blonde, bushy hair and beard. He ran a hippie commune in the midst of this pot farm where about forty young men and women made their home. They were mostly runaways, remnant draft dodgers, or people over eighteen who had been kicked out of their homes. Four or five of the young women had infants or toddlers. He invited me to relocate there and bring my son. All I had to do was help with the children, gardening, harvesting food and meal preparation. Being a farm girl in my youth, I thought this would work out well. My son would have playmates and I would be living the farm life again, which I had so dearly loved in my childhood.

Meanwhile, back at the apartment, I had a new neighbor, a Greek Adonis, N.K., whose friends and family owned and operated the local pizza parlor. Knowing I would be moving to this farm in the wilderness, I also knew I would have to give up my job at the hospital. I had no transportation, and while a few of the men had vehicles, I could not depend on them for a regular ride to my work. This guy, N.K., promised me a job as a waitress, paid in cash every Friday, plus keeping my tips daily. Most significantly, he would pick me up and drive me to work every day. I would only be working evenings from 4pm until 10 pm Thurs. and Sun. and 4pm to 2am Fri and Sat. I had promise of cash and a ride. I also had built in babysitters for my son.

I acclimated to life on the farm/commune quite well. I would get up and bake biscuits every morning served with grits, eggs, ham and sausage. We had goats, pigs, a couple of cows, and chickens. The vegetable garden was plentiful. We made jellies and jams from wild berries. The kids all stayed together with their toys in a huge playpen we had constructed outside and two smaller ones inside. The women, with flowers in hair, running around in tie-dyed maxi dresses, blue jeans and sandals, attended to each other’s children as needed. We were rainbow colors dancing rings around the sun.

Evenings, all would gather on a huge Asian rug in the living room in a circle on the floor, pass around the pipe, and talk about the day’s events or what was planned for the next day, listening to Marshall Tucker, CSN&Y, Pink Floyd, Bob Seger or whatever tunes we happened across. Fluorescent posters papered the walls of the old farm house, lit by black lights and strobes. We had a pet raccoon, named Rocky, and two flying squirrels that would join us. Though not ideal, I did feel safe. I did not; however, feel that I or my son had any sort of future there.

My new found friend, N.K., would come inside the house with us on those weekend nights that he drove me home from work. He was exotic, tall, dark and handsome, speaking with a thick Greek accent. I was all of 5’ 4 1/2”, 100 pounds soaking wet, had long blonde hair that I sat on, and bright green eyes. I must have seemed exotic to him. My commune friends were suspicious (and perhaps a bit jealous). N.K. drove a black on black, brand new Trans Am. One night, a couple of guys from the commune were busted in the parking lot of the pizza parlor and my friends were sure N.K. had something to do with it, but I doubted it. Needless to say, I was not trusted anymore.

N.K. vehemently denied any involvement, and I believed him. After all, he informed me that he was planning to move to NYC with his partner to open a Greek restaurant in Jamaica Bay. He offered me to join them. I didn’t know, at the time, that he was deeply entrenched with the Greek mafia. That is something I learned a thousand miles from my home and a month later. All I knew at the time is that I was promised a job in the new restaurant. N.K. also assured me that he had connections in NY that could get me a modeling job. With some hope for a future, I left my son in the care of his grandparents, and struck out for NYC.

Friend is a dangerous word in some circles. I won’t go into the details here, but I will say that his plans for me did NOT include a modeling job. At seventeen, I was merely a charm on his arm to various functions and parties in wait of my 18th birthday, which would be November 15th. N.K., and his friends, who were brothers, S.N. and L.N., and their wives, were busy setting up the new restaurant.

N.K. had secured an apartment in what was once an old bank. It was two stories. The upper rooms were stocked with evening gowns, cocktail dresses, shoes, accessories and makeup. There was only one door in or out of the large apartment. N.K. bolted it locked when he left for the restaurant every day. There was a vault in the old building that once housed a safe. The safe was no longer there, but the space had been converted into a well secured closet. The closet housed guns and drugs. My job was to guard these, call N.K. if anything suspicious occurred, and to escort the entourage of beautiful women who came and went to the upper rooms all day and all night to change clothes. These women had keys, and I didn’t. Where they went every evening, I did not ask.

One day about noon, I was sitting in the living room reading a book when I heard scratching at the front door. At first, I thought it was one of the girls who had forgotten her key. Now, it was November and already cold and windy, but there were no tree branches near that door. Then, the scratching again. I was dead bolted inside this apartment with no way out, … or so I thought. Then I heard “Ayuda! Ayuda!” There was a Peurto Rican village on one side of our Greek village and a Mexican village on the other. These were the first words I learned in Spanish, long before I learned to count.

I tried to peer out the barred window, but I could see nothing. Again, I heard, “Ayudame! Ayudame!” louder, pleading, crying. A knock at the door, timid at first, and then forceful.

I put my book down and, on a whim, tried the door. It opened, and into my arms fell a young girl. She had long black hair and large brown eyes. Her eyes were screaming with fear, yet glazed and reddened from crying. Her face was pale and dry, no tears. Unable to hold her, we both went to the ground. Her head lay in my lap. Her lips were blue. She was larger than me, but could have been my age, a young woman, not more than twenty years. She could have been younger. Her blue jeans were wet and black, soaked with blood. A pool of blood at her feet, and a trail behind her to the sidewalk and beyond. Her breath was in gasps. Her pulse was fast and thready. I had to let her go to call for help. Amazingly, people were passing on the sidewalk, and no one bothered to help at all. They glanced in our direction as if to say, “Looks bad, but not my problem,” as they stepped around the bright red sidewalk mess.

I left her there in the doorway. I made a call to the operator and asked for an ambulance. My fear, though not as great as hers, was that the police would come and find the closet. A fleeting, selfish thought. N.K. and I would go to jail. It was not something I could dwell on long. This girl was dying. Already, she slipped out of consciousness, eyes closed, limp as a dishrag. I knelt beside her and held her in my arms, brushing her hair from her face with my face, and begging her to hold on. Her skin was cold against mine. I felt her spirit leave her body. I knew she was not going to make it. She was barely breathing when the medics arrived, along with the police.

They carted her off on a stretcher and into an ambulance. She was somebody’s child, somebody’s sister, she was somebody; perhaps, a mother, like me. The questions from the authorities came like rapid gunfire. Was she alone? Did I see which way she came from? Did she say her name? Had I seen her before? Did I know her? Did she get out of a vehicle? How long had she been there? Did she say anything else at all? They repeated the same questions a dozen times and all I could say was what little I knew. They took photographs. They walked all around the building. Then they left. No one asked to come inside.

I cleaned up the blood all the way to the sidewalk, and followed the trail, as the police had, to the parking lot behind the building, where it disappeared. I called N.K. on the phone and told him what had happened.  He was furious with me that I had opened the door, and more so with himself for having left it unlocked. “She could have died on our doorstep!” I exclaimed.

The next day, N.K. made sure to dead bolt the door. About 10:00 am a couple came to the door, a man and a woman. They identified themselves as detectives from some task force. I could not open the door to let them in, so I spoke to them through the door. They asked me the same questions I had been asked the previous day. They told me the girl had died. She died at 5:00 pm, alone in a hospital, another statistic. Yes, it is always 5:00 somewhere. She had suffered a traumatic botched abortion. They believed by her pimp, or some John. Who knows? It could have been a “friend” trying to help her out of a bad situation. These were common deaths back then, not even noted in the news. She was known in the neighborhood as a street girl, Maria, like so many other Marias. No last name. Maria Doe. Just another whore. Who knows why? Somebody’s child. Perhaps, somebody’s mother.

God only knows why that door wasn’t bolted on this particular day. God only knows what life He saved Maria from, what life Maria saved me from. Or why?

Why did I find that ledger in 1992 stuck between two torn down walls?

This is from where comes some of the passion to tell the story in Red Clay and Roses.

This was 1978, just four years after Roe versus Wade, two years before I started nursing school.

The title of yesterday’s and today’s post is sarcastic. Of course, I can’t possibly imagine criminalizing abortion again. It would not stop the practice. It would only create more criminals, cause more pain and suffering.

I can’t condone abortion used indiscriminately and irresponsibly as contraception. I can support a potential parent’s right to decide and choose if they are ready to be responsible and committed to raising a child. For the child’s sake, if for no other reason.

If you want to know the rest of the story, you will have to wait until I get around to writing the memoir, autobiography, or roman à clef.

Teaser: I spent the latter part of my eighteenth birthday night naked in Central Park, near Fifth Avenue, close to the zoo, hiding behind a trash can and my hair until rescued by a soul man with a huge afro named George, and his woman, Ernestine, in a big, shiny, black Cadillac who took me to K-Mart to buy clothes. I made it back home to LaGrange, Georgia, by way of the Cayman Islands. It’s a long story.

Let’s Go Backwards and Criminalize Abortion, Again! My Story: Part One

I know that self-disclosure can be a dangerous thing. With all that is going on in Texas, South Dakota, and other communities across the country, I feel a need to go there with a couple of personal stories. First and foremost, it is not my intent to debate right or wrong. Second, all I can really do is tell you how it was in my life. Third, pray that you don’t have to make the sorts of difficult decisions I have had to make. Finally, wish you the best possible outcome if you have faced or are facing similar circumstances, or know someone in such a situation.

It was 1975, and I was living in an orphanage, the Ethel Harpst Home, in the North Georgia Mountains. I had been in foster care for several years after a few years with an abusive step-parent on the heels of my mother’s death. I don’t believe, at that time, I knew what love was anymore. I felt love as a child and had loving grandparents, but there had been enormous fear and loneliness. At fifteen, I wanted to know love. I wanted to feel loved.

I met a guy at school. He was popular and his family was prominent. He jumped through hoops at the Harpst Home to be able to date me, meeting with the house parents and the home’s administrator. He wrote letters and his parents wrote letters. I felt immensely desirable. First, house dates for months, then away dates.

Then, on about the third away date, I was date raped…but he “loved” me, and I was just “confused”. Sex was supposed to be fun. It didn’t matter that my faith had indicated to me that I should remain a virgin until marriage. I had been violated, but he “loved” me. He bought me flowers, candy and jewelry. He called me twice a day. We had mutual friends and they were all having sex. It was the sexual revolution. Birth control pills had come out in 1960, so by 1975 everybody was on them, but me. To take birth control pills would mean admitting that I was having sex, and I could not do that. By March of 1976, I was pregnant. The Baptist Church I had been attending closed its doors to me. After all, what a horrible influence I would be to the other young women.

“Free love” was trendy, and casual sex, once forbidden, was becoming commonplace. Roe versus Wade had decriminalized abortion in 1974, and birth control was relatively easy; however, neither was readily accessible.  I did have a Social Worker, Shelia Turner, who spoke to me about options. My boyfriend could be arrested for statutory rape. I could have an abortion, and not leave Harpst Home or disrupt my life in any way. I could go to an unwed mother’s house in Atlanta, give the baby up for adoption and return to the Harpst Home to complete my education. I had a $17,000.00 scholarship to Wesleyan and my teachers were encouraging a career in journalism. The option to have the baby and keep it was not suggested, but it was the option I chose.

My boyfriend was excited to become a father and eagerly offered to marry me. We were wed in the United Methodist Church. I stayed in school, and graduated early in advanced classes. At sixteen, December 20, 1976, I gave birth to a healthy bicentennial baby boy. My nineteen year old husband worked at a meat processing plant and he decided to join the Army as his father had been career military.

He completed his Basic Training and MOS in South Carolina. His first duty call was to Stuttgart, Germany. We could not go, my son and I, because he had not been in the service for two years. Before he left, he beat me severely to let me know that he could kill me if I was unfaithful to him while he was gone. I put him on a plane July 11th, 1978. There were tears in our eyes, and at seventeen years old, I took my eighteen month old son home to Cedartown, to our apartment which had a $300.00/month rent, $100.00/month power bill, and no groceries.

I discovered the rent had not been paid for the two months my husband had been home, nor had the power bill. I pawned my wedding band and engagement ring to pay the bills and buy food. A week later, I discovered I was pregnant despite being on birth control pills. I could not believe it. I also received a letter from my husband telling me simply, “I am tired of being married, so go back to South Georgia, Love Bryan. P.S. Take care of my son.” My son’s family refused me any assistance.  His mother advised me to, “Woman up, like a military wife should!”

I had no car. There was no public transportation in that small town. I worked two jobs while my neighbor babysat raised my son. I worked as a clerk at the drug store from 1:00 pm until 9:00 pm, had two hours to walk home, eat, change clothes, and walk to my second job as a nursing assistant at the local hospital from 11:00 pm until 7:00 am.  Had two hours to walk home, eat, change clothes and be back at the drug store to work from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm…every other day. I had from 2:00 pm until 10:00 pm every other day to be a parent and to sleep. I was earning $2.33 an hour. The clerk job was on a rotating shift and the nursing assistant job was straight nights. I was trying. The bills weren’t getting paid, and we barely had groceries.

The Church, you ask? Turned away.

After a month of these work hours, I went to the health department for assistance and was put on the W.I.C. program. I went to the Department of Family and Children’s service for welfare, but they could not help me because my husband was military. They sent me to the Red Cross.

The Red Cross could not get me food assistance, but they arranged for me to fly to Germany to speak with my husband’s Commanding Officer and tell my husband of my second pregnancy. I left Ft. McClellan, Alabama in a cargo plane alone. My son was with his grandparents.

Once in Stuttgart, I went to the guest house and then to see my husband’s C.O. He told me that Bryan had problems with drugs and alcohol, disobedience, and was heading for a dishonorable discharge if he did not straighten up. He told me that he was supposed to be living on post, but he had been staying off post. He gave me an address.

I took a cab to the address and had it wait, because I did not know what to expect. There was a store with an apartment above where I was to find my husband. I walked up the steps on the side of the building. Once at the top on the landing, I peered through the screen door to see my husband in bed with a woman who could have been my twin. It was a small apartment and the sofa was opened into a bed in the living room. They were sleeping in each other’s arms and appeared to be quite comfortable. I did not wake them. I went back down the stairs, got back into the cab, and went back to see the C.O. I told him what I saw, and that I was pregnant and needed some assistance. He assured me the he would get an allotment check cut out of my husband’s pay. I got back on a cargo plane and came home.

The allotment was $100.00 per month. I quit my job at the drug store. I filed for divorce, and went to the Hillcrest Clinic in Atlanta and had an abortion on August 25, 1978. I could not manage to feed one child alone. I was hopeless and helpless. It was how I chose to help myself and my son. It was my only hope. The divorce took two years. I remarried. My hat is off to women who have been able to raise kids alone. At age fifty-three, I have three grown children, two grandchildren, and retired early from a thirty year career in nursing.

I have no regrets.

You may be wondering why I decided to tell this story. I had an interview published yesterday that made me think about what motivated me to write Red Clay and Roses. Where did the passion come from to tell the stories of Althea, Bonnie Jean, and Sybil? A story that tells of three women with unplanned pregnancies before Roe versus Wade, and before birth control. The secrets they kept. The choices they made. Their consequences. The good doctor and how he illegally served his community. Swamp Witch Wilma and how she did the same. 1954. Do we need to go back there?

Tomorrow I will tell you the rest of the story. Yes, there is more. Tomorrow a young girl dies in my arms.

Writing & Publishing: Would You Have Done Anything differently?

Truth is: I did not sit down and say, “I am going to write a novel.” Or, “I am going to sell books.”  I feel being candid about my personal experiences with these processes of writing and publishing is the best way to help other aspiring authors. I deeply admire and respect all of you who have authored books. Yesterday, I made a post about my progress with getting my paperback version accomplished.  That post prompted more questions which I am attempting to answer in this post.

First: What is “Red Clay and Roses” about?

Red Clay and RosesGeorgia, the elbow and the armpit of the Southern U.S.A post-Civil War. Jim Crow Law is enforced keeping the black and white races separate. A century after the Civil War started, nearly two lifetimes later, battles are still being fought in the 1950s and 60s.  Major changes are introduced in the South.  Follow an African American family’s trials and tribulations and an interracial couple’s struggle to face an unaccepting society in this faction novel, “Red Clay and Roses”, by S.K. Nicholls.  An engaging read that explores the harsh realities of living in the South during this era, one that slices right down the middle of serious women’s issues and racial issues that our constantly evolving society continues to encounter today.

You can also read a more detailed book description on my novel page here  or at Amazon.

I don’t want to belittle the work effort that went into this project, it was enormous, or the work effort of other authors, but I want to tell you, honestly how this went for me:

  1.  As I have mentioned in my interviews, I wrote a factional account of events that occurred in other eras, a fictionalized true story. After a year on the shelf, I shared it with many friends who encouraged me to publish. They were teachers, nurses, college professors, family, friends and colleagues.  A couple of these people are even authors.  Retrospectively, to spend the time to creatively develop the writing into a formulaic novel template did not occur to me.
  2. When I made the decision to publish, I was clueless.  I did not have a blog. I had researched some, but honestly, if I knew then what I know now, I would have been too intimidated to put it out there.  I did it. I put it out there.  It won’t be unpublished simply because it is not my best possible work.  It will remain there as example of my earliest writing.  It is a good story.  It is not bad writing, but I know that it is not the best I can do.  The publishing process for the eversion was simple in comparison to the paperback.  If I had it to do over I would have had them published by the same company at the same time.  I think that would have simplified the paperback process.  I would have also passed the MS through the hands of a couple of professional editors BEFORE publishing, not after. Revision and final editing was done recently, rather than before the publication of the eversion in March 2013.
  3. To date, I have sold 110 copies since March 23rd.  Most of those were sold on Amazon and through smashwords the first three months after publication.  I had thought it was selling better on Amazon than smashwords but my data shows me that smashwords and all of the other retail platforms combined (according to my independent publisher) have sold 58 copies, and Amazon 52.  Technically, Amazon is the single best retailer, because smashwords figures are combined with all of the others (B&N, Kobo, Apple, Sony, etc…).  I had no plans to get rich, or even be a best seller, so I am not disappointed. At least 110 people now know the true story that I wanted to tell, and they know of the sacrifices real people made to get us where we are today.  Would I like to sell more? Of course.  I want the story told.
  4. I set out to document a story. I did not set out to make a name for myself as an author.  Seriously, I wanted the story recorded for posterity.  I truly did not intend for it to be entertaining.  People might ask, “If not to be entertaining, then why write?” It was written to encourage others to think about harsh realities of other eras and to reflect on their personal indoctrinations and belief system.  Is it entertaining? The reader would have to decide. I am sure parts of it are. Parts of it will make you think deeply.  It is supposed to. It is an engaging read that explores the harsh realities of living in the South during the 1950-60s, and during the Civil Rights Movement. It will force you to examine your own belief system and come to understand the origin of a hatred we still seek to eradicate. It speaks to women’s reproductive rights and responsibilities.
  5. Specifically, what would I have done differently about the writing process, the technical aspects of putting a novel together?
  • There would have been no separate Introduction or Conclusion chapters. Possibly, there would have been a prologue introducing the ledger and The Good Doctor via Hannah Hamilton and her visits with Ms. Bea.
  • The first two chapters regarding Ms. Bea, and the first two chapters regarding Moses Grier, would not exist in their current form, but parts of their stories would have been incorporated into the remainder of the book.
  • The entire book would have been written in third person omniscient, using fewer dialogs and more show than tell. A craft aspect of writing that I am seriously working on developing.
  • The first chapter would have opened with the action of Althea’s tragedy and the reactions of all involved.

I will publish an authored work again, I am certain, but it may be years down the road.  I will also do things differently with regard to both the writing and publishing processes.

If you are interested in the book, the paperback should be ready within the next two weeks, realistically, and I will post the “gone live” date.  For Read Tuesday, the eversion will be available through Amazon for 99 cents during the week of December 8th-14th.  I would have made it free, but Amazon makes it so difficult, I have learned from experience, to go back up to your original price when you do that.

Daisy, the Incredibly Determined Dog

daisyMy husband is a very kind man who likes adopting pets.  He would come home with birds, lizards, geckos, and animals as exotic as the Chinese water dragon.  We had a special room for all the animals that he felt would have a better home with us than where they were found.

One day, he called me on the phone as I was coming home from my night job and he told me that a new smiling face with big brown eyes would be greeting me as I came in the door.  I told him jokingly, “Okay, as long as it isn’t a kid named Julio with hearty appetite!”  After all, we already had twenty parakeets, a couple of sun conures, a cockatiel, a few lizards, a Tokay gecko, a Chinese water dragon, two dogs, and a cat…what harm would one more critter be?

I wondered what my surprise would be.  When I opened the front door, I was greeted by the smiling face of Daisy.  What a pretty dog she was, with her happy wagging tail.  She is an Australian cattle dog mixed breed, with the personality of an angel, a white mid-sized dog with reddish spots.

Daisy was adopted from the parking lot of Petco where the adoption dog service had many salvaged doggies up for adoption.  Her big brown eyes and gentle smile had won my husband’s heart.  He got her history from them and decided we could make a good loving home for her.

When people keep dogs as pets, they must remember that dogs are inbred with certain characteristics.  Daisy was a herding dog.  It was her job to see to it that the flock was safe.  Her history was one of a runaway, digging tunnels and jumping fences.  The original family that had owned her had given her up because they were tired of chasing her down.  She had such a habit of digging out of the back yard and running away, that they had put her on a chain. She had scars on her neck where the heavy chain had rubbed away the hair and marked her deeply.

During Hurricane Charley, homes were trashed, roofs were torn off, huge trees and other debris were hurled across streets and thunderstorms raged.  Lightening crashed and the wind blew hard at more than 75 miles per hour.  The devastation was horrible.  Poor Daisy, being frightened and chained in the yard, broke free and ran away; perhaps, to check on her herd.

Fortunately, she was found by her original family several days later.  It is amazing that she survived the storm and did not get hit by a car as we live in a part of Orlando with busy intersections and 5 and 6 lane through streets.  The original owners felt that they could no longer keep her and they took her to the adoption agency.  She had subsequently been adopted by several owners who had always brought her back to the agency with the same complaints.  Daisy needed a safe home.  My husband was certain that he could build a better mousetrap.

Daisy was already a full grown dog when we got her.  Her habits were deeply ingrained.  She had been a yard dog. My husband saw these habits as a challenge and decided that we would make a house dog of her like the other two doggies that live with us.  They have a doggie door and come and go at liberty.  Daisy seemed to instinctively know what the doggie door was for and followed the others in and out.  No training required.  She was a smart dog.

The next morning, after my husband had gone to work, I noticed the boards from the privacy fence had been pushed out.  Daisy was gone.  I searched the neighborhood and found her down the street.  Promptly, we put a tag on her with our phone numbers.  My husband took plastic twist ties and went around each and every panel on the privacy fence securing them into place so they could not be pushed out.

Not long after, we moved to a new neighborhood nearby.  We had a chain-linked fence at this new house, but found quickly that she could jump over it.  Neighbors were constantly calling or bringing her back home.  My husband went out and bought an electric invisible fence, surely she could be trained to stay in.  He installed the wire around the perimeter of the back yard.  Then we noticed that she was only running away during thunderstorms.

Here in Florida during the summer months, our rainy season, there are thunderstorms almost daily.  Daisy would begin to pant as the barometric pressure dropped.  By the time a storm hit, she would be in a full blown panic, pacing and checking from room to room for her flock.  Most doggies with thunderstorm anxiety will simply hide under a bed and whimper, not Daisy; she was a doggie on a mission.  Even the electric fence would not stop her.

We wanted the least restrictive method to keep her contained.  We tried the Thunder Shirt™ to no avail.  It calmed her, but that did not last long.  She found a spot that she could push under the chain-linked fence and escape from.  We fixed that, but it did not stop her from trying.  We decided to invest in a $3000.00, 8 foot high, full panel vinyl privacy fence, surely that could keep her in.  No, she found a way to push the gate open at its base.  She was found by a family nearly three miles away.  My husband added another latch down below.  She was being contained, but would tremble and pant and pace until she wore herself out, and then lay at our feet, exhausted.  Her anxiety still troubled us.  When we weren’t home, we worried about what fear she might be experiencing in our absence.

Finally we took her to the vet and explained the problem.  The vet gave us sedatives to calm her that we were supposed to give her at the beginning of a storm.  Again, if we weren’t home, we weren’t there to halt her anxiety.  We also found that the sedatives would knock her out for two days.  Sometimes the thunderstorms would last only minutes and be gone, other times hours, but poor Daisy was out for the count for days.  We tried reducing the dose, but often, by the time the storm passed, the sedative would just be starting to kick in.  It wasn’t working out well.

Then we went on vacation for two weeks and had a friend coming by to feed and tend to the critters.  He did not seem to see anything amiss when he came by, so we thought that she must be coping with our absence quite well.  We came home, and within days discovered that she had a place by the gate that she had been digging with all of her might.  Her nails were bleeding and her paws were filthy.  Her face stayed black from the mud as she would go out during the worst of the weather to dig.  My husband filled the hole and poured concrete around the threshold of the gate so she would have nowhere to dig.  Again, without much success with the sedatives, we went back to the vet.

This time, the vet had us try Prozac.  It seemed an odd choice in that she did not seem like a very depressed animal.  Except during storms, she was a quite well adjusted, happy doggie.   But we decided to give it a try.  The 20 mg dose seemed to make her lethargic and far too drowsy to suit her normally spunky personality, so the vet did a dose adjustment and we went down to 10 mgs.  Perfect!!!

Daisy is now a perfectly well adjusted, loving, calm and very happy dog, despite her determination.  She still checks on us during a storm, just to make sure that all are okay, but no more panic, no more trembling and shaking, no panting or pacing.  There is no more digging, and her paws have healed.  There are no more phone calls from neighbors.  She will go from room to room to see if the members of her flock are okay and then she will return to her bed under my husband’s computer desk and nap through the storms.  She is one peacefully happy determined dog who has finally found a home with a kind and loving, equally determined daddy.