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Category Archives for Dogs on Drugs

Week Two: Anti-depressant update

It’s probably still too early to tell if the meds are making a difference. But, other than Lilly showing some disinterest in playing this week, here’s a report on how she did in different settings.

Last Saturday (day 9 on meds), we went to the farmer’s market as usual. Lilly seemed her usual nervous self. She snarked at one dog, after showing interest in “meeting” him. We went for a walk to decompress, then we popped by the feed store to get some food, and she laid down in her very specific shutdown way. She was very shy with the young men who work there, but she did do a few tricks for them.

We took another break, then tried a little shopping in a big box pet supply store (not her favorite place). Other than the sliding doors, which always freak her out, she seemed about 50% calmer than usual inside the store. Finally, we dropped by our favorite lunch cafe, and Lilly was PERFECT while I had lunch. Not one sign of fear. Keep in mind, though, that she loves going out to lunch, so this is not *that* unusual.

Last Sunday (day 10 on meds), we went to our usual training class. There were 2 dogs we know, and another 5 we did not know. So, I doubled the distance we typically keep from other dogs from about 5 feet to 10 feet. Lilly was perfect. She did not growl or fuss at anyone. (smile) Other than during recalls, we worked in an open area. During recalls, however, Lilly did great inside the training pen as the other dogs ran to their owners, and when it was her turn, she came to me (past the other dogs) no problem. This too is not unusual or different really.

We also went for a walk down in town before coming up the mountain, and Lilly again did great, even when we saw a large pack of yapping bichons who were lunging at her.

Last Monday (the holiday), we went for a 2 hour hike with a friend (hey, katy!). We saw 3 dogs. Lilly did growl at one, even though I got her off trail while the other dog passed. But, later, when we ran into 2 out-of-control bassets, she did not. Both my friend and I jumped between Lilly and the dogs in pursuit, and she survived the encounter without incident. Usually, dogs that strain to get to her really set her off.

We also had some 30 mountain bikers and a few hikers pass us. My typical response is to ask Lilly to get “off trail,” then I block for her as whatever passes. I feed her the whole time, as long as she stays calm. She only barked at one bike out of 30, so that’s pretty good.

We even got a compliment from a couple hikers, who were impressed with her trail manners as she sat nicely out of the way as they passed.

So, all in all, it was an OK week, but I’m not sure it would have been markedly different without the meds. I know I shouldn’t be looking for a miracle, but sometimes a girl needs a boost of something to keep her going.

Until then, and with hope, we soldier on.

I’ll report more next week. Thanks for your interest.

Potential trade-offs

I’m trying not to worry too much, but as Lilly heads into her second full week on medication, I may be seeing some unexpected shifts in her behavior. It’s just now hitting me — what if solving Lilly’s anxiety in public, in agility, means giving up some of what I love about her at home?

Since Saturday, Lilly hasn’t wanted to play much at all. She acts like she wants to, but when we get outside, she gives up and shows little interest in the ball. She’s lagging a bit on our walks. And, she’s been beyond SLOW in her jumps and weaves.

There is a chance this is a result of a bruised toe nail. While trimming her nails yesterday, I noticed that one of them looks bloody and discolored inside. (Some of her toe nails are black, but some are white and a bit see-through.)

If not, then maybe I was naive to think that the meds would isolate and solve ONLY the behaviors that I hope to change. I’ll be bummed if the meds also take away what makes Lilly … Lilly.

P.S. Sorry for the late posting today. I’m juggling a few monster deadlines, and I’m just now getting to the blog.

Week One: Anti-depressant update

Just now (about 10 am), Lilly came and pressed her narrow chin into my thigh. I’m madly typing away on a note for an editor, but Lilly persisted. Then, almost like she sent me a message, my head went BING, and I realized that I didn’t give her medicine when we got back from our walk. I guess that shows I’m not yet fully in the habit.

It’s hard to say if one week on the amitriptyline is making a difference. Since there are no Gigi classes the last weeked of the month, we haven’t been to class. Since my social schedule and work life have been nutso this week, we haven’t gone anywhere … except for some walks around the valley.

I’ve written before about my concerns with the placebo effect  , so I’m hesistant to note my minor observations.

But, here is what I’ve noticed. I’m not sure it means anything.

Lilly seems a bit better about her at-home recall, which has gone to pot.  Sometimes, she actually comes in the front door when I ask her to. I’m rewarding that like crazy, hoping it continues.

She also seems a tad bit mellower around the house during the day while I work. Right now, for example, she’s asleep on the floor in the sun. She’s using her toy duck as a pillow and just let out a big sigh.

Still, she ran off and hid last night when I started swatting flies. It’s some kind of insect plague here in Colorado this summer. The flies are EVERYWHERE. I usually try to swat them only when Lilly is outside and cannot hear it, but there were like 10 of them in the kitchen last night. Obviously, we’ve never swatted her with anything, but the action still sends her running.

She also got very wiggly and scared when Tom fanned out a color sample booklet he got yesterday. I’m not sure if was the sound or the motion that set her off, as the swatches fanned out from the case.

We’ll likely go on an adventure or two this holiday weekend so that I can test her in different situations to see if the meds are making a difference. Look for another report next week.

And, the pharmacists laughed

Last Thursday, I drove to my local big-name pharmacy to pick up Lilly’s anti-depressants. I had a long list of errands, so I swung through the drive-through. One of the 3 pharmacy people I could see through the huge window approached. She picked up the phone on her side so that she could speak to and hear me. I gave her Lilly’s name and the name of the veterinary hospital that called in the prescription. She disappeared to pull the bag from the shelves, then approached the two other women, said something, and all three laughed.

I could not hear the conversation, but it’s hard NOT to assume that they were laughing at the idea of anti-depressants for dogs. So, when she picked up the phone again, I said, “Don’t laugh,” in a conspiratorial way. Like ha-ha, yes, this is weird, but stuff a sock in it.

She said, “Oh, sorry.”

“Now you know what someone looks like who gives anti-depressants to her dog,” I replied.

As she processed my payment, she confided that indeed they’d seen A LOT of prescriptions for dogs come through this summer. The unusually bad thunderstorms, it seems, have greatly increased the number of phobic dogs in my town.

I simply agreed that the storms have been bad this year. Surely, she wouldn’t understand the true nature of Lilly’s generalized anxiety and performance-related fear.

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