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Before anyone is too alarmed I should say that physically she's fine. Emotionally, however, she's been through a rough few weeks.

Odin has many times seen me go away for weeks at a time, once for over a year and another time for nearly a year (cut short by being wounded) on my two deployments to Iraq. He knows the drill. It will be sad times but dad will return eventually. I shouldn't lighten the effect those deployments had on him either - especially the first one. Even so I think his profound connection to me somehow made him aware that I was alive somewhere even if I couldn't be with him. He was not as deeply affected as poor Frigga was by my sudden and protracted absence.

Odin was certainly extremely happy to see me come home after 24 days away. He jumped and vocalized how delighted he was to see dad come home. Frigga was quite different. At first she didn't seem to recognize me and reacted with alarm and protectiveness to see a "stranger" suddenly come in the door. Then as recognition set in I saw her heart break. Her face fell, her ears crushed to the back of her head, her hackles partially raised as waves of shaking quivers racked her entire body. She hit the floor like she'd been shot and uttered sounds I'd never heard a GSD make in over 40 years with them. It sounded almost human - like a woman who saw her relative die and return from the dead perhaps. It was a wail I will never forget. She huddled and withdrew so into herself that at first she flinched from my touch. It took several minutes but eventually she settled down enough to tentatively lick my hand and as I stroked her and soothed her she calmed down and became almost limp from being worn out by the emotion of it all.

No question of it, of course, her bond to me runs deep. Odin's heart is big enough and his devotion wide enough that he could find solace in my absence with DW, his charge and his self-appointed mission of guardian. Frigga certainly cares for DW and minds her well but her world revolves around me. DW told me that there were days she barely moved from one spot in the house (my side of the bed) as she mourned me. Only Odin could prod her into much activity outside.

I feel about 2 inches tall for the grief I caused her though I know there is no way I could've averted it. The knowledge that it will come again makes me very sad for her and I pray that she will, as Odin has, come to realize that dad will come home.
 

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Poor girl. I hope she does learn that you will come home.

It's a measure of who and what you are that she feels so strongly about you (IMO).
 

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Poor baby. I know what you mean, my little Shoshona is much the same but in my case she is such a Mamas girl. I wish I had suggestions that would ease her pain when your away....Maybe your wife could spend some extra special time just with her...maybe take her for a 'girls day out', lunch at a drive thru, maybe a little shopping at a pet store, things like that. It might just help comfort her. Oh, I know. Leave an old sweatshirt of yours around so she can sleep with that. Your scent will be on it and she might find that comforting. You could try calling but she will likely worry more thinking you've been changed into a phone receiver....There is a treat dispenser called a Talk to me ball where you can record your voice which will play as the dog pushes the toy around....maybe that would help???
Good luck
 

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I am moved beyond words....OMG.
Thank you for serving our country and may you continue to be safe.
Poor Frigga....I can just see her emotional distress. Your story should be published as a tribute to these wonderful, loyal dogs. You are her dad and on some level she connects in a way we will never understand.

When my hubby is gone for a few days (golfing...nothing dangerous!) they go in the mudroom and sniff his clothes and move the sleeves around with their noses......is he in there someplace? They look at me like.....well you're Ok, but your not DAD!
 

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I bet sweetie Frickie gets much, much loving in Dad's lap now!! What a sweet story.. and a wonderful, caring girl she is. Try not to worry too much Tom, next time will likely be a bit easier on her. What a wonderful bond you have with both Odin and Frigga! They are very lucky to have such a loving Dad in you.
 

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Welcome home!!
I hope the training was well worth the time away. You have such an amazing bond with your dogs and have such a way of verbalizing it. I felt as if I were there watching and my heart aches for Miss Frigga (and you too my friend). You'll need to do something for her before you go away again, I'll think of something, to help ease it for her.

to you, Rachel, belly rub to the furry ones (I'd say Rachel's belly too but she doesn't know me as well as you and it's rude to rub a pregnant woman's belly if you don't know her that well
)
 

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I am moved beyond words....OMG.
Thank you for serving our country and may you continue to be safe.
Poor Frigga....I can just see her emotional distress. Your story should be published as a tribute to these wonderful, loyal dogs. You are her dad and on some level she connects in a way we will never understand.


Ditto!

What a great idea!
Tom, you should really consider telling "the world" your very touching experience, starting with your local newspaper to all major dog magazines. It would be a wonderful tribute to your dogs loyalty (and the pets of all the service men/women). You owe it to them.
 
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Thanks to both of you for the support! I'll submit it at least to my state's Guard magazine and see if they like the idea. I will also send it to my local paper, The Barre Montpelier Times Argus where it may actually get published too. They do like human interest stories about dogs and such. This is a very dog-friendly area so it would possibly be attractive to their readership. People are aware at least to some degree of the sacrifices the families of servicemembers make during deployments but I bet they don't give much thought to how it affects their pets too. It would give me a venue for highlighting the very worthy works groups such as Guardian Angels For Soldier's Pet http://www.guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org do and remind military members in the area of that service. So for my fellows even more than for me I very much appreciate the suggestion.
 

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Poor girl! Would it be possible to 'go away' for a day or two, maybe even a week, every so often just to get her used to you being gone and returning?
 
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I'm in the Army. Trust me, she'll get other opportunities to get used to it. I've only had her about a year and a half. This was the first time I went away at all since I rejoined last year. There will be more sad times for her, but I believe she'll eventually come to understand as Odin has that I will come back. In the 29 years since I first joined many other dogs before them have also come to learn this hard lesson. It does, however, still affect me as it does them.
 

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Your story made me both laugh and cry. Oh my, the trauma she must have endured.

Reminds me of the first time I left my cat, Sunshine (She just recently died at the age of 21 years). It was my first year of college, and the first time I was away for 6 months. She may have thought I was permanently gone, too.

When I first came back, she was sound asleep on the back of the couch. I immediately went to her, and rested my head next to her. This woke her up in a rage! "How dare a stranger touch me!!" I imagine she was thinking. She jumped up, hissed, and fluffed up her hair to be standing on end. She whipped around and and went to scratch me across my face. But just as her nails touched my cheek, she realized who I was and retracted them so just the pads of her toes swept across my face. She then promptly started licking my face all over and purring profusely. It was quite a funny sight to see: a hair raised kitty puring abundantly.

The very first time I left her for a week, she was so happy to see me, she tried to get into the bathtub with me


Two weeks after I had gotten Taedyn, I had to go away on an emergency business trip for a week. She came with the person to pick me up at the airport, and she was so happy to see me she insisted on sitting on my lap the entire drive home!
 

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What a story! I have one suggestion and it sounds corny but I think it would help. Tell her that you are going but that you will be back. If you know when, tell her when. They understand more than we give them credit for.
 
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