Monday, February 28, 2011

now what?

Sonny's progress has been fluctuating a bit lately... I'm sort of feeling lost.  I know he's a special dog and he's not going to wake up one day and just jump on the couch and start cuddling, but it's been a month and there have only been slight improvements, and more than anything, I feel bad for the poor dog.  He's so anxious most of the time, and I can't bare watching him be so terrified so often.

He seemingly doing better in the house... he's coming out of his crate more to check things out, and at night he comes out of his crate to collect the toys in the living room and bring them to his crate for safe keeping.  He also will come out of his crate and play bow at Buster.  That's usually when I talk to him, and make "woo-woo" noises at him, and he makes them back at me while play bowing.  It's adorable, actually. But it's usually short-lived and if Rob and I are on the couch when he does this, all we have to do is move a muscle and he runs back to his crate and stays there.  He is still much more comfortable with me than with Rob, and I don't see him "coming around" anytime soon.

We take daily walks, and of course he's always looking around at noises and we avoid all people since they make him nervous, but overall the walks have been very successful .... until recently.

The long and short of it is there is a guy up the road who is a total jerk to his dog.  He's always yelling at him, giving leash corrections while yelling, etc.  Honestly, I'm not sure why he even got a dog to begin with.  He's 3 houses up from us, and since we live on a dead end, walking by his house is sort of unavoidable.  So, I just go outside and check for the guy before we go on our walks.  Cumbersome, yes, but definitely worth it.

The other day we were on our walk back from our walk, and approaching this guy's house.  I noticed him on his front stoop with his dog and wife, and I stopped and started to turn Sonny around and just walk away.  But it was too late -- the guy decided right then he wanted to go inside and started yelling at his dog to "get in the f***king house!" and "move!" And this guy is YELLING. It was totally unnecessary.

We were between 1-2 houses down from him, but Sonny went into immediate panic mode.  He looked over his shoulder in the general direction of the yelling while he immediately pancaked and flopped down on the ground.  He was cowering, and started leap-frogging to get away.  He literally would get down into a crawling position and leap up and away. Once he realized he was still on leash, he looked at me with this awful look that broke my heart.  This poor dog was absolutely terrified and was looking to me for guidance and reassurance only to realize he still wasn't quite sure if he could trust me, because, after all, I'm a human and he's still not sure about humans.

We quickly moved away from the situation, and the guy and his family went into their house, but it was a struggle to get Sonny to walk back in that general direction.  Every noise he heard was frightening him.  Tree branches touching, leaves moving, flags flapping in the wind, car doors closing (but not even in sight) all set him back into panic mode.  Once we got back to the house, he was back to his not-so-normal self.

The next day we were on a walk, and I chose a time that our jerk neighbor isn't around, and Sonny was on high alert the whole time.... so much so, that he popped a squat and while he was going, he heard a screen door close and the poor dog jumped up and started running WHILE he was pooping.... it was a mess. And of course, it made a mess all over him, which meant he needed to be bathed when he got home, which is an awful experience for him seeing as he doesn't like being touched.

We've tried natural supplements... Rescue Remedy, L-Theanine, Happy Traveler, Valerian Root, Melatonin... they don't seem to make a difference in him.

But with the warmer weather around the corner, there are going to be more people, and more noises out there... and Sonny needs exercise, so we have to be able to take walks and runs or else his anxiety is even worse.  After some exercise, he at least will settle down and relax even while we're around.  But without exercise, he's a giant ball of very anxious energy.

So I've emailed the woman in charge of vetting at our rescue, and asked about meeting with a vet and discussing the potential of medication for Sonny.  I was really hoping we wouldn't have to go that route but I'm not sure what else to do.  I just hate to see him feel so anxious.  I don't know anything about anxiety medications for a dog, so I'll need to do some research and talk to a doctor, but we'll see what's next...

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