Tuesday, March 15, 2011

....of set-backs and successes

This is Sonny's new favorite spot.... only a few inches away from his crate, but in the corner of the room furthest from where Rob and I usually are.  We don't spend much time in this chair, and up until recently, it's been Buster's favorite chair.  Maybe that's why Sonny chose it... it smells like Buster. And he adores Buster. He seems to like being able to watch us from it, and it works nicely because we don't spend a lot of time there, so he gets it all to himself and feels comfortable and most likely feels safe there also.

Anyway, on to Sonny's behavior.

This morning I was up early enough to try a short jog with Sonny, but he was all over the place, crossing back and forth in front of me, weaving side-to-side, running behind me, in front of me, behind me again... once he'd hit one end of the leash, he'd try another direction and then another and so on.  He pooped, but wouldn't pee, so I took him inside and tried again in a few minutes.  He peed the second time around, so I let all three pups out for their morning play session.

It's strange though, it's almost like a light switch that turns on and off. Literally, the second we come inside the house, it's as if we weren't just outside and he wasn't just in a pure panic. His tail lifts and he runs to Buster's crate, play bows, woo-woo's at him, then run's to the baby gate and licks Roxy's face and tries to nibble on her ears, then runs to me, play bows and woo-woo's at me.  It only lasts a few seconds, but it's showing me the dog that I know he can be with the proper treatment.

In Sonny's case, I truly believe that proper treatment involves medication.  Sure, over time, Sonny could potentially learn the same things that Roxy has learned, and then some.  But, how long is "over time?"  Do we sit back and let this dog suffer in silent fear while we wait it out?  I don't think that's fair; in fact, it's neglectful.  Trainers, veterinarians, and several individuals on the shy-k9s yahoo group believe the same thing -- it's no different than neglect or abuse to simply ignore the dog's anxiety and hope it goes away.  You wouldn't ignore a liver or thyroid problem in a dog, it would be considered neglect or abuse.  In those cases, the organ malfunction is the liver or thyroid.  In a fearful or anxious dog, is it not the brain that is malfunctioning? Isn't it our responsibility to treat the malfunctioning organ, regardless of what it might be?

While at work today I called the vet to set our follow-up appointment, and since Sonny's stools are still not fully formed, she wants to keep him on the prescription food for another week and follow up next week. So I asked her what we are doing with regards to his mental state, especially considering that Sonny's food and treats are 100% limited to his prescription food, so now more than ever, I'm not able to work with him because kibble is not exactly a high-value reward.  After some back and forth, the receptionist on the other end of the call let me know the doctor was putting together a prescription for Clomipramine for Sonny.

Finally, I don't feel like I'm fighting an up-hill battle for this dog to feel slightly comfortable in his own skin.

Then I was sent home from work for being sick.  I came home and took Roxy and Buster for a quick walk, then came back home to take Sonny out.   We went outside and he dragged me across the street and pooped right away; then his normal panic routine ensued:  crossing back and forth in front of me, pulling in all directions, trying to back out of his collar, etc.  So we came back inside and figured I would try again in a few minutes to get him to pee.  I brought Buster to the water bowl and came back to the living room and Sonny had peed on the floor. Great. The medication couldn't come at a better time -- Sonny is becoming too afraid to even stay outside long enough to go to the bathroom.

When we came inside, I put together some food for him, with some water and his first dose of the medication and put his bowl down in his crate.  I walked away and I'm not exactly sure what happened, but he wound up spilling the whole bowl all over his crate, and then he wouldn't eat it.  He pressed himself up against the back of the crate, like he was trying to be invisible.  I left him be, thinking he'd eat the food, plus it's stressful for him to have me right there in his crate cleaning up the food while he's in there.... but 10 minutes later, he still hadn't eaten.  I cleaned up the food non-nonchalantly and he devoured it the moment I closed his crate.

He came out of his crate and had a moment of joy, where he ran around the living room, smiling.

Here's to you, Sonny... and here's to working towards a more relaxed face, like this one, moving forward!

Now he's laying in the Papasan Chair, and for just a moment, I heard him sleep-woofing, for the first time in over a month and a half, he's sleeping with me sitting so close.  Actually sleeping too, not sleeping with one eye open.

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