I left a full trash bag out yesterday before I went to work for six hours. That thought clicked in my head about 5 seconds before the key clicked in the lock, so I walked in ready for some serious cleanup.
What I got was a happy boy, wagging his tail and offering a celebration ball. You're home! Love me! And he was standing in the middle of a clean floor. I'm home! I love you! And I'm glad I don't need the Swiffer!
Watching the dissipation of separation anxiety is interesting. When we first brought Hathaway home at the end of August, we tried crating him, but that just exacerbated his anxiety. He was a drooling, barking wreck and I worried that the stress would kill him or he would hurt himself trying to break out of the crate.
So we left him out, leaving for short periods of time. You could tell from the trail of drool that he'd ramble from room to room looking for me. According to the neighbors (oh kind and patient neighbors), he would bark. Continuously.
Once I knew he wasn't going to destroy the furniture or go through a window, I'd leave for a little longer. Before I'd go, I would tell him to go lay down, I'd be back soon. He would for awhile, then he'd look for things to chew, pulling papers off counters, place mats off the table, rummaging in baskets or boxes. Or, if we forgot to move it, get into the trash.
But you could also see his trust start to build. He was wandering farther away at the dog park. Letting me out of his sight both there and at home. And judging from what I was greeted with when I came through the door after work, it seemed as though the naps were getting longer as the rambling and rummaging subsided.
When I'm going to be gone for an extended period, I leave a banana on the counter for him to "find." He peels it, eats it, naps.
Over the last couple of weeks, especially, we have come home to nothing ... or nothing but a smiling, wagging pit bull next to an empty banana peel.
There has been less destruction, less chewing of random crunchy objects, and yes, less rummaging of the trash, which means (in my human brain) that Hathaway (in his doggy brain) finally feels like he's home.