It’ll be three years in October since we welcomed our Beagle Boy Cletus into our family. They told us when we got him at the APL that he had separation anxiety issues. 

I don’t think I understood what that meant or at least not how deep his issues were. We have been trying everything we can think of to keep him calm and happy.

Dave said we’re not going to have our lives run by the dog. He’s right, we’re not. But we are going to do what we can to make things easier for Cletus to handle while we go about doing what we need and want to do. 

At first, we just went with the old standby of giving Cletus a baby Benadryl (vet approved) when we were going to be gone. That’s great, but there were times we had things to do three or four times a week when I got home from work. I don’t want to drug him every day. 

We also learned an important lesson about how the Benadryl affected him. Give him one, wait an hour for it to kick in and good to go, right? Not so much. But the next day, he could barely drag his bag of bones out of bed. 

So if we have a function at the campground on Saturday, we have to "roofie" him on Friday night. Even so, he still wasn’t good with us leaving him alone. I’ve heard he howled the whole time when we locked him in the camper by himself. 

The next thing we tried was a Thundershirt. It’s supposed to calm him because it’s basically swaddling him like a baby. I only used it a couple of times. It seems like it’s too tight. He just falls over and lays there like he’s dead. 

I realize it’s supposed to be tight, but not like a tourniquet. It’s been said Cletus is "square," with no hips, no waist, just built like a brick. So I’m going to try the bigger Thundershirt I found in the yard sale stuff. 

We tried putting Cletus in a kennel. Our granddog, Roscoe, loves his kennel. He feels safe and happy in there and knows he’s going to get a treat for going in. He practically shuts and locks the door himself. 

No way was that working with Cletus. Wrestling him to the floor to get him in it, there were times I wasn’t sure which of us was going to end up locked in when it was over. The couple of times he did get in, he howled and wailed so bad I couldn’t stand it. 

This isn’t good for either one of our stress levels. I’d rather not go anywhere than do that to him. But then again, that’s not fair to Dave. He’s home all day waiting for me to get off work— just itching to go someplace. Even if it’s just to the dollar store and back. 

Recently, we bought Cletus a jar of "stress reducing" treats. I don’t know exactly what they are, we just call them his Bob Marley pills and he’s only allowed three a day. 

Our most recent foray into attempting to reduce his stress and anxiety is a diffuser. We plug it in and it’s supposed to spritz the room with pheromones like the ones sent out by mother dogs to calm their puppies. 

I think it might be starting to work. I’ve actually stepped out the back door a couple of times without Cletus wrapped around my ankles and it took a few minutes before he whined and scratched at the door to come with me. And no howling. That’s a big improvement.

With our dog, Duke, all we had to do at the camper was turn on the A/C and the radio, point the fan in his face and step out the door. He didn’t even move. 

With Cletus, we either invite friends up to our place, where Cletus is perfectly content to sit in a lawn chair, or we take him with us when we go to visit. Most everyone at the campground is dog-friendly and we try to be as self-sufficient as possible. 

The Jeep is always packed and ready with Cletus’ necessities — his cable, water dish, jug of water, small bowl of food, travel blanket and chew sticks. 

The most effective thing we’ve done lately is change up our routine. Coming home from the camper on Sundays, shoving Cletus in the house and taking off for the laundromat was a nightmare. 

So now on Sundays, Cletus naps all afternoon in the Jeep, trying to make sure it doesn’t leave the yard without him. We do laundry on Mondays, when Cletus is already in the house. 

We had been trying to shove him in the house on Saturdays so we could get groceries, but that was just horrible. So last time, we went on Thursday when I got home from work. No fuss, no muss. No howling, either. 

And shopping on a Thursday afternoon was really kind of pleasant. Nobody trying to run Dave over in the parking lot, smaller crowds in the stores, and I didn’t have to make dinner when we got home. Everybody knows you don’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry, so we grabbed a bite before we started shopping. 

That worked out great, but there are still times when Dave and I need to go places without Cletus on the weekends and neither of us (me or Cletus) is all that comfortable with locking him in the camper by himself. I’m thinking of hiring a sitter.