The Prozac Dog Diaries

Ah spring time..the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and…..thunderstorms and other loud noises pop up. Last summer we started to notice that Tucker was a little nervous over thunder and some other unexplained noises. However, it was very minor and living in the DC area where we heard any number of noises on any given day, he was mostly accustomed to strange noises. Fast forward to late March of this year. We’ve moved to the quiet suburbs of Pennsylvania—and when I say quiet, it’s REALLLY quiet. So any noise is even more magnified in Tucker’s ears. We noticed that Tucker was getting more and more anxious over thunderstorms, loud noises, helicopters, lawn mowers. With thunderstorms, he’d pace and couldn’t settle. He’d want to go down to the basement and scratch at the floor. He couldn’t settle or sleep. It came to a head one evening when my husband was away and I had fallen asleep. A little after midnight, I was woken by Tucker being extremely anxious–while I couldn’t hear anything, he must have heard a noise (you’d be surprised at what a dog can hear!) and it unsettled him. For the next hour, he didn’t sleep. I became concerned that this was getting worse, not better. I’ve had other dogs that were scared of thunderstorms but I was concerned as this was even happening at noises like a helicopter overhead. After speaking with our breeder and my mom’s breeder, we took him to our vet for a checkup to see if he was having any physical issues and to discuss what we could do. I will also note that we did try the thundershirt, rescue remedy and other things before we spoke to the vet.

After a thorough checkup, our vet thought he might benefit from 30 days of Prozac along with some desensitization training. Her reasoning was that you couldn’t fix a scared brain. I was a bit hesitant to give Tucker Prozac, but after talks with my breeder and my mom’s breeder who both agreed with the vet and gave me tips on how to train Tucker, we started giving him one pill a night at dinner beginning on April 3.

So, we’re three weeks in and what have we seen? Well, the first two weeks after giving him the pill, he was rather mellow and sleepy. We’d give it to him at dinner and then he wouldn’t really be playful the rest of the evening…even in the morning he wasn’t as playful. I had heard that this could be a side effect but it was a little hard to see as Tucker’s usually very playful. He still loved his walks and no one else might have even noticed a difference in him, but when he wasn’t really interested in playing rope, it made me sad. I knew from all the reading that this was common as the dog is adjusting to the pill—for some dogs that can take a week or two, for others longer. I consistently checked in with the vet who assured me everything we were experiencing was normal.

In addition to the pills, we have also been trying to desensitize him to noises which can be tricky. I reached out to a trainer who unfortunately hasn’t been able to help us yet, but I’ve been given some tips to help us do it ourselves. The first thing I got was these music CDs called Through a Dog’s Ear that mixes classical music with thunderstorm noises. They start with one track of classical and the tracks after get louder and louder with thunderstorm noises. There are also other CDs for fireworks and city noises. We started on those- playing those in the background while doing something fun with Tucker. I think he’s been pretty much desensitized to the CD as a lot of time it comes on now and he falls asleep! During these training sessions, we either play with Tucker, go over his tricks, or massage him or something that he enjoys while also keeping us calm.

I feel though, that these are just dress rehearsals. The real thing like thunderstorms are hard because you can’t predict when and how often the thunder might occur. Same with noises that pop up out of nowhere. When we first started the meds, Tucker was still nervous which was to be expected as like I said before, it can take a few weeks for the medicine to build up enough in the dog to create positive effects. On Easter night (April 16), we had two tests. The first one was that someone was setting off fireworks (yes, really) while we were on a walk. Tucker had a slight reaction on his leash, probably also reacting to me who jumped but he recovered quickly. Once we got home and were settling in, we had a quick moving storm with lots of wind! He was still unsettled but recovered quicker than before. I was still a bit discouraged but when I talked to the vet, she assured me that was still quite normal. We’ve continued on with our training and pills but haven’t had any storms since. However, with other noises he has gotten better. He’s also back to his playful self–giving me approximately 5 minutes to eat my breakfast before he is ready with his toy and lots of rope play at night.  Last night, I thought we were going to have some storms and I saw some lightning and held my breath—how would Tucker react if it thundered? One part of me wanted to see how, the other didn’t. I never heard any thunder but I know there was storms around us…how did Tucker react?

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Yep. I’ll take that as a good sign. I think we will continue with the Prozac for the foreseeable future until we can see if it’s really helping when there are real storms but for now, I’m hopeful. However, I cannot stress enough that you cannot just give your dogs Prozac and expect results. You must also work with them and be diligent about it. I actually find myself getting anxious if I haven’t worked with Tucker at all during the day (I also need Prozac but that’s a different story for another blog). And I’m also not a vet so please speak with your vet if you suspect anything with your dog!

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If you can’t read my shirt, it says Namast’ay at Home with My Dog.

Review: A Dog’s Purpose

Another good chunk of time has gone by without a blog post. My apologies….I have lots of good ideas but sometimes the last thing I want to be doing is sitting behind a computer screen.  BUT I love this blog and I love to write. First, I’ve noticed that despite not writing regularly, I’ve gotten a fair amount of new followers. I’m not sure how you found me, but thank you!

Now, on to my post…a few months ago, I saw the trailer for  A Dog’s Purpose and knew, that despite it taking me 4 times to watch without crying, I wanted to see it. Shortly before the movie came out, there was a bit of controversy with the film which I think drew a lot of people away from it even though a further investigation found no wrong doing.  Now, I am not a big movie watcher. I might go to the movies 2-3 times a year, if that and I don’t watch a ton of movies at home. A few weeks back though, I decided I wanted to go to this movie and it worked out as my husband wanted to go see another movie and they were both playing at similar times.

I’m not going to give any spoilers away here, but everyone should know if they saw the trailer that the movie follows a dog named Bailey and his boy Ethan. When Bailey passes, he is basically comes back to live as other dogs to figure out his “purpose.” Here were my running thoughts during this movie:

  1. The dog’s name is Bailey, same as my human brother’s dog and the movie Bailey looks like my Tucker. This isn’t going to be good for me.
  2. About 30 minutes in–as I’m already starting to tear up, what the f— am I doing at this movie? Why did I think this was a good idea? Why did my husband think that me going to this movie was a good idea?
  3. Ok, a funny moment. Ok, I can do funny and sad.
  4. Haha, this one dog looks like my brother Oliver’s girlfriend. We like to think Oliver is Emily, our golden who passed away. I can get behind this reincarnation story now.
  5. OMG, what if Tucker is really someone else? Does Tucker like being Tucker? I think he has a pretty damn good life but what if he is longing for someone else?
  6. OMG, what if Tucker doesn’t have a good life during his next life? Can’t think of that. Gorge on these Starburst minis.
  7. Ooh, I like this ending. Stop crying. Pull yourself together, you have to leave the movie theater now and go hug Tucker for the remainder of the day.

It wasn’t a bad movie, but it’s probably not one I’m necessarily going to buy or watch when it comes on TV. As I’ve said before, it is uncanny how we sometimes see things that were so Emily and Spenser in my parent’s dogs Oliver and Tracer that take our breath away. Things that other dogs don’t do, but that they did and now Oliver and Tracer are doing and it makes you really think.

I will leave you with the end quote in the movie…the dog’s purpose…because it’s one of those things that I think we can take into our daily lives to remember (well except maybe the licking part…):

“Have fun, obviously. Whenever possible, find someone to save and save them. Lick the ones you love. Don’t get all sad-faced about what happened and scrunchy-faced about what could. Just be here now. Be. Here. Now. That’s a dog’s purpose.”

The ‘Burbs

First off, I’ve noticed I have a few new followers of this blog and my facebook page. Thanks so much to you all! I hope you enjoy this page and please always feel free to let me know if you want to see something featured. I promise to get back into regular blogging. Can you believe that this was the first weekend since early September that we had absolutely no plans? Between starting a new job/commuting/moving/settling in I am physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. Wine helps–and so does Tucker!

So, we now live in the suburbs as opposed to the big city. It’s a bit quieter, a bit darker, and we have a lot of deer. A. Lot. I have a bit of a deer fear but it’s slowly getting better as I encounter them more and more here. The other morning I was eating breakfast and Tucker was sitting out on this gorgeous deck we now have. All of a sudden, I saw him stand up and look out into the wooded area. Now, our deck doesn’t have any stairs going down to the grass so I knew he wouldn’t go anywhere, but I looked out and he was in a stare down with a deer kid. Then I saw the deer run off with his brother or sister and a few minutes later I saw a huge elk–or a moose with antlers. Fingers crossed we see no bears.

I’ve made mention how proud I am of Tucker for adjusting to everything. I can’t imagine what its like but dogs are incredible adapters. After going back and forth between his Gran’s house and our place in Arlington, I think he’s happy to have all his toys in one place and new places to sniff. I made sure that before we moved into our townhome, that Tucker got to see it and sniff before we had any stuff in it. Then as the movers were coming, I took him back to my parents house an once we got everything move in, he came back. No need for extra chaos!

There are a lot of dogs in our neighborhood but it’s definitely quieter and smaller than the busy-ness of Arlington, VA. It’s nice that he gets more puppy play time with my parents and brother’s dog, and I think he enjoys that. We were also fortunate to move to a neighborhood that has nice well lit walking paths which were a must for us. This week will be another new thing-if the crazy dog dad’s been travelling, I usually drop Tucker off at my parents to spend the day with his Uncle Oliver but this week we’re trying out a new dog walker so Tucker will be at our place the whole day. I’m hoping it works out well.

Now as we settle in, I’m looking to continue our regular routines, just in a new place. That’s what I feel helps Tucker the best. Has anyone else moved recently?

 

Happy Birthday Tucker!

Today Tucker is 3. I can’t get over that my boy is 3. There was  treats and presents of course. By moving to Harrisburg, we don’t have to share Tucker’s birthday with Halloween as they do their trick or treat on the Thursday before Halloween (don’t ask why since I don’t even know). Our little family is together in our new home and I’m so proud of how Tucker is adjusting.  It hasn’t been easy and I’m sure we’re bound for a few more bumps but he’s handled himself great.

So today my boy is 3. My rope playing, sleep on his back, grab the bath mat and jump on his Bar and Gran is 3. My fluffy tailed boy who loves giving kisses and will give a low little growl if you stop petting him is 3.

And no matter how much he tires me out some days, no matter how much I have to say something like “no! Do not rip the blanket!” “No, do not hump Mommy” or, “can you please just settle for 3 minutes,?” I also say, “please don’t grow up!” Which is ridiculous I know, because no matter how old you are, you’ll always be my puppy.

So tonight we sang Happy birthday and made wishes for health and happiness and new fun adventures. Because you my Tucky, are three. And I’ll love you forever.

Tucker’s Travels

Happy September! We have some cooler weather and I so wish it would last but they said another heat wave next week. September will usher in several changes in our lives as I take on a new job and I’m a bit anxious with all the changes that will be happening next week so I’m going to try and enjoy this weekend to the fullest.

Last week my husband and I went on a trip to London! I’ve never been and it was so cool. Tucker was well taken care of with my parents and Spenser and Oliver. He’ll be seeing more of them this fall as we’re moving back to their area and I know they just love each other so much. Of course, Tucker’s still having some colitis issues that he’s being treated for. I’m hoping with all these upcoming changes, it doesn’t get worse but we’ll just have to see. Positive pooping thoughts please! (yep, I just wrote that!)

Here’s a question for you- when you travel, do you leave a guide for your pet sitter–even if they’ve watched your pet before? We have a Tucker guide and depending on who watches Tucker, it can be anywhere from a page to a few pages. I like to write everything I can think of so no one gets surprised. My parents who have watched Tucker several times laugh at this. However, when we picked him up on Sunday, here was an exchange between my dad and I:

Dad- Tucker tore up a blanket. Pretty minor.

Carly:  Did you read the guide? I said not to leave blankies with him.

Dad- Oh yeah, I actually read it two days after he did it.

Dads!

Anyway, there’s a lot of cute stories I’ve seen since we’ve been awhile. Here’s a few!

Blind dog led by his canine pal: I just love love love this story! It just shows how loving dogs can be.

Puppy with Purpose: Of course, I believe all puppies have a purpose but there are some really amazing pups out there. Of course the Today Show profiled Wrangler and now has Charlie. Best of luck Wrangler and I love seeing Charlie and his noise cancelling headphones!

Hugging pup: Full disclosure, I may have profiled this dog before, I can’t remember. But I think this is so cute. I want to find her next time I go to NYC!

And in DUH news: Dogs understand us! Of course they do, but like children and husbands, they have selective hearing! I frequently ask Tucker if he has his listening ears on.

Hope you have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend planned!

 

 

Weekly Recaps- The Golden Boy of Summer

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a thorough blog post. I’ll blame the dog days of summer (I’m ready for cooler temperatures), some travel, and the Summer Olympics. Ok, and maybe some laziness on my part.

During the last heat dome at the end of July, we were able to take Tucker swimming which he had a blast at. Since then, we had a little better weather walking wise minus this past weekend which has truly been close to the 7th circle of hell. Last weekend we were visiting Tucker’s grandparents in Pennsylvania where he had great fun with his Uncles Oliver and Spenser and he got to see his cousin Bailey (who is Spenser’s littermate so it’s sort of Uncle-Cousin Bailey). We’ve watched a lot of Olympics. So much so that Tucker has put himself to bed a few times before we’ve finished watching.

There are going to be some changes in the next few months that I am excited about but also very nervous. We have a move coming up and while I think it will be very good, I am worried about Tucker will handle it. I know ultimately he will be fine, but it will certainly be an adjustment. The good news is that we will be back with family and he’ll see Spenser, Oliver and Bailey all the time so that will be a comfort.

Before I get into this week’s stories, I’d like for you all to have the LCC K-9 comfort dogs in your thoughts and prayers. These therapy dogs and their handlers were caught in crossfire over the weekend and while it could have been way worse, they still need all our love.

Here’s something that made me smile and some photos from our adventures. Have fun watching week 2 of the Olympics!

Take Your Dog to Work: Can anyone do this? This article examines workplaces that allow dogs and find that it’s less stress. Tucker’s not sure he wants to go to work- he has a busy social life away from us!

Sunshine for Days

Hello again!

This week seemed to go by pretty quickly which was nice and we’re all settled into this nice little heat dome. This means early early early morning walks and short walks after the sun goes down. Boo. But, safety first and we have to protect our pups and ourselves. I hope you are all drinking plenty of water! I’m excited because tomorrow morning Tucker is going swimming so I am sure that will feel good for him! Right now he is snoozing on the couch which looks like a mighty fine idea for me. Screw laundry and cleaning, right?

Here are a few more things I saw this week that made me smile:

Trust Falls: I think this is so goofy! He made me laugh.

Police Dogs Graduate: Sadly, it’s a scary time in our country to be a police officer. These brave men and women protect us everyday. But let’s not forget that there are also K-9 cops who protect us too. Best wishes to these furry new police graduates!

If I could Talk: Ok dog lovers, fair warning. This will make you cry. It’s so sweet but it will make you cry. So if you have to be out in public in a few hours, just wait until you can stay home and have a big sob.

Also, a reminder that today is #CleartheShelters, an initiative to help pets find their Furever Homes. And if you can’t get there today, make every day a #CleartheShelters day.

I hope you are staying cool wherever you are.