Sunday, June 15, 2014

Reintegration - Week 1

It has been a week since Colin came back home. The puppy is a lot of work and keeps us hopping however Sumter has been a godsend. Our new pup has helped ease the transition and has been a great team-building tool. Taking care of a puppy is as much work as a newborn baby and takes a "village" to raise it.

We have settled into a routine. I am an early riser, so I go down to Colin's room at around 6:15 a.m. and take the puppy out for a quick pee, feed him and then out again for another "potty" which hopefully involves a poop, as well as another pee. After lots of praise and either a walk around the house or a little play, Sumter goes back into his crate, until Colin wakes up to take care of him.

Colin usually covers lunch and dinner, however, hubby will pitch in with an occasional potty run. I fill in as necessary.

Friday night after work, I brought Colin and Sumter out to my sister's house for a visit. I wanted to pick up the rest of my son's belongings and give the pup some playtime with his dog-cousin. It will be a few more weeks until we are cleared to take Sumter to public places. He needs his 3rd round of vaccinations and time for his immunity to kick in.

My sister's dog seemed to miss Colin. Last time her dog appeared to be a bit jealous of the puppy and was a bit "snappish". This time went much better. My sister's friend brought her dog over and we had a dog party! Sumter even went for an "accidental" swim. A good time was had by all.

My sister commented that Colin seemed much happier and more relaxed in my presence than when he left for home. I'd have to agree!


Body Language

The trick to housebreaking a new puppy and reconciling with our son is the ability to look for visual cues in body language. Before coming back home, Colin was clear about "No Talking" to him unless it was of utmost importance ( "Political Emergency", "Going on Vacation for a Week".....). We are trying to leave our son alone as much as possible. I've come to realize we've been doing this with our other teenage boys (16 and 17 year olds) who seem to value their privacy, locked away in their rooms.

During the week, Colin is left alone with his pup for several hours when my husband and I are away at work and the older boys are either at swim practice, ACT/SAT review classes or at their respective jobs. My husband is able to go into work late morning or on some days, work from home so we do have a little data to be able to gauge how our son is handling his "baby". It is clear that Colin loves his dog and seems to be stepping up to the challenge. When our son needs a break, he will crate Sumter to avoid an "accident" and so that he can have computer time.

I have learned to avoid speaking to Colin in the morning and try to let him speak first in the afternoons and evenings. When he asks a question, short answers are best. Any other response is usually met with a "SSShush!!" or a "No Talking!". We have been getting short bursts of conversation from our son if it involves something he needs or is passionate about.

One of the hard parts for us when dealing with our son's sound-processing disorder is discerning the difference between "bad behavior" due to anger and "reaction-induced behavior" due to a trigger. As far as I can tell, the "No Talking" is due to residual anger left over from the past year's unfortunate events.

We have discontinued Colin's weekly therapy sessions that took place at my sister's house, however, I will continue my weekly phone sessions with our Cognitive Behavioral Psychologist. When I spoke to the good doctor a few days ago, he told me we were on the right path. He believes that while our son, may not have needed as long of a "vacation" from us, the stay at my sister's was an integral step. The psychologist feels that we would not have been successful if we brought our son directly home from the Psychiatric Hospital.

I would agree. I also believe that we would not have had the relatively smooth transition in bringing Colin home and back into our lives if not for our rescue dog. As cliche as this might sound, Sumter, our adopted "fur-boy" has rescued us!

I am filled with gratitude and hope.

We are a work-in-progress!


  1. SO happy for you! I pray that the transition continues to grow easier and you can return to some sense of normalcy.

  2. It's been very pleasing to read your later posts because the progress is evident. I salute you for being understandable a capable to go through all this with a proper attitude. Looking forward to hear more as time passes by :)