Fudge, a two-year-old male Saluki mix, had been having freedom issues ever since he had been adopted at the age of two months. He was found with his mother and baby brothers on a highway and seemed shy and sensitive from the beginning. He was then adopted by Alex – his human – who recognized his “behavior issues” from the start and decided to try to correct them with the help of several dog trainers and vets.
As a young puppy, Fudge escaped from his home and was found the next day with a broken leg, probably hit by a car. He underwent several unsuccessful operations that left him with a crippled leg. Even before his accident he seemed fearful and stressed whenever he was left home alone, damaging furniture, windows and doors. Fudge was trained by several behavior specialists for various socialization issues, mainly with other dogs, but it came to the point where Alex had to leave him tied up on the outdoors porch whenever he had to go to work.
When I first met them, both Fudge and Alex looked confused and distressed. Alex was desperately worried about Fudge, and Fudge seemed anxious for Alex. They had recently moved to a new apartment with a new partner and the situation seemed to get even more complicated for everyone involved. Alex couldn’t leave the house; his partner couldn’t stay alone with Fudge; and Fudge seemed calm only when he was out and about with Alex. Things were complicated even when they were outdoors because Fudge would often stiffen and growl at other passing dogs.
Alex decided to look for an alternative treatment for his companion’s misbehavior and I was invited for a homeopathic consultation at home. The first impression that Fudge gave me was that of a caged bird: I saw a gentle, sensitive and worried animal, constantly on the lookout. He was lying on his cushion, eyeing Alex’s every movement and following every word that was uttered. He was friendly but distant, motionless yet alert.
Alex’s apartment made one feel as if one was sitting in a cage surrounded by fog: the open- space living room was framed by bay windows of frosted glass that obscured the view outside, as if the exterior world didn’t exist. As I was listening to Alex speaking of Fudge’s issues about freedom and borders it occurred to me that both of them were entangled in knots of invisible ropes. It was as if they were both desperate to break free but their efforts were only tightening the knots, strangling them even more.
Alex, despite believing his companion had suffered neglect and abandonment as a puppy, still seemed to feel unconsciously responsible for his dog’s unbalanced behavior. He admitted to maybe having made some mistakes along the way. He finally recalled that he had once left Fudge alone and locked up at home for several days, while travelling away; he had then regretted it bitterly when he came back to find a changed dog — frightened, growling and hiding under the bed for several hours. That sad incident had led to a new level of destructiveness in Fudge’s behavior when left at home alone, which in turn led to him being left tied up outdoors.
As the consultation went on, abandonment stories kept coming up in both Fudge’s and Alex’s life stories. As the homeopathic visit was coming to an end, some practical measures were recommended in order to try to relax the tense atmosphere at home and maybe even bring some hope for a calmer future in spite of a hopeless present situation. A homeopathic remedy was prescribed for Fudge, which was then given once a day for several days. Alex felt encouraged and sent an optimistic report after three days. At the next follow-up conversation, a week later, he reported having left the dog with a new dog trainer for a new training program lasting several weeks.
He never called again.
After several weeks I heard that Fudge had been brought back to his original rescuer after his last training period because Alex decided to let go of him. The rescuer was actually thrilled to have the dog back in order to give him a better chance, which is what she had been trying to do ever since she first heard bad news about him as a puppy. It had taken two long years and many trials and errors until Fudge was finally given another chance for a fresh start.
After several months I managed to get in touch with Fudge’s two-times rescuer who told me what I had hoped and expected to hear: Fudge was immediately accepted by her own pack of dogs and was living a happy, simple and free life while waiting for his next home. She described a playful, clever and gentle dog, highly intelligent and sophisticated when it came to figuring out how to open windows and doors whenever in need of freedom and fresh air.
Fudge’s remedy was Falco Peregrinus Disciplinatus, a relatively recent homeopathic remedy. Prepared from a peregrine falcon’s feather and a sample of its blood, this remedy carries the spirit of the falcon. The substance of the remedy was taken from a captive bred peregrine tiercel (male) who was about two years old and had been trained in the traditional way.
Fudge seemed to be sharing with the falcon the need for freedom, open spaces and air. The desire to be free and soar that’s inherent in the falcon’s nature implies a heightened sensitivity to enclosed spaces.
In falconry the birds are left tethered in semi-darkness without food for a substantial time until they’re exhausted and starving. Then they’re offered food on the gloved fist of the falconer so they would step on the glove to eat, driven by hunger. Even after being trained and conditioned, if they fly out of reach of the falconer’s whistle they are capable of flying away to freedom.
Fudge’s need for open air and spaces seemed to have pushed him to react in a similar way whenever he felt trapped, lonely or encaged. As much as he was attached to his human caretaker and loved roaming with him in open spaces such as the beach, he didn’t hesitate to break out and break free if deprived of freedom. Isolation and confinement had a devastating influence on this carefree and confident dog, plunging him into a vulnerable and desperate state.
Fudge needed a remedy to help him deal with the issues of freedom, confinement and companionship that seemed to be bothering him. In spite of his many efforts to make things right, Alex wasn’t able to provide Fudge with an appropriate life environment. He couldn’t provide for Fudge’s immense need for freedom and space – maybe precisely because he himself had suffered from abandonment as a child. It was as if they were both sharing a vicious circle of freedom and chains, each one breaking free while the other was being trapped – a tragic vicious circle which could be broken only by a major change. That change was finally brought about by Alex who ended up making the right decision, giving Fudge back his freedom. Had Alex not made that very courageous move of letting go of his closest companion, would Fudge’s homeopathic treatment helped balance their emotional seesaw? Maybe, although it seemed like a most difficult task indeed.
I’d prefer to think that Fudge’s remedy helped him return to his carefree friendly self once he was finally given the chance to do so. It’s as if he adapted to his appropriate environment with as much ease and elegance as a soaring free falcon.