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.

You’ve Got a Friend In Me

I know, it’s been awhile friends. With Christmas and the start of a new year, life has continued to be a little hectic. We are already into February and here it is Super Bowl Sunday and we’re also getting ready for Valentines Day (we all know Tucker is SUCH a ladies man).

This past week, we had a very special visitor in our house: Tracer! Tracer is Tucker’s 4 month old golden retriever uncle. Now, you may be chasing your tail here in confusion, so let me explain. My parents have two golden retrievers as you know, Oliver and Tracer. Now, because they are my parent’s pups, that means they are my brothers. Which also means they are Tucker’s Uncles! Anyway, my mom went in her for her highly anticipated knee replacement surgery last Monday and Tracer came to stay with us. And don’t worry about Oliver–he enjoyed a few quality days of spa time at the wonderful Kind Hearted Pet Resort. Tracer is not old enough to go to the Kind Hearted Pet Resort so we got to host him!

I admit–I was a bit nervous. Tracer is 4 months old and while very well-behaved for a puppy, it would still be a new environment for him and it would be Tucker’s very first houseguest. Yes, Tucker has always been the bride but never a bridesmaid-always a guest at other homes but never hosting. Tucker and Tracer get along but when we would go to my parents, Tracer was always a little nervous of Tucker. Tucker likes to run, play, wrestle and make all sorts of noises which would freak Tracer out. So, we set up a few playdates where Tracer came over a few hours to get used to this place before he slept over and all seemed great but it’s a whole different dog park when Tracer would be here for the week.

Last Monday, I came home from work to two playful pups. Any concern I had about there being some nerves from Tracer or Tucker feeling put out was immediately put in the crate as I watched these two wrestle and cuddle. Tracer had no fears and settled in quick and Tucker truly enjoyed having Tracer here. There were a few scuffles over toys, but otherwise it was a smooth visit. Sure, I haven’t slept past 5:45 AM almost a week, I’ve used 8,000 poop bags, and I’ve been knocked over a few times when I’ve gotten in the way of puppy wrestles but it was all worth it. It always is when I see puppy happiness. It will be weird to not have Tracer tonight since he went home to take care of his Mom.

This morning as I was doing the morning walks, I found myself singing the song, You’ve Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story. I’ve been so depressed about the state of our country lately but these two pups reminded me of all the good in the world.

“You’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got troubles, and I’ve got ’em too
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you
We stick together and can see it through
‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me.”

 

Now please excuse me if I don’t make it to the Super Bowl halftime show!

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.

 

 

Case of the Mondays..

Does anyone else have a case of the Mondays or is it just me? I definitely did not want to get out of bed this morning and I felt like I ran a marathon before I even got to work. It’s certainly hard to go back to work after last week’s holiday shortened week. I thought since I haven’t posted some of my favorite stories recently, I would do so today instead of waiting until the end of the week.

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Let’s just stay in bed Mommy..

26 pictures that sum up what it’s like to have a dog that won’t leave you alone:  Because I bet your dog is sitting on you as you read this post.

Mama Dog Observes her baby and he may not be the brightest in the litter: We’ve all been this puppy. And we’ve probably all been like his mom while watching someone else. Frankly, anytime I see someone clearly doing that Pokemon game, I feel like this mom.

New Jersey Senate Passes Bill That Bans Puppy Mill Sales In New Pet Stores: This bill is on it’s way to consideration in the New Jersey Assembly. According to HSUS, if enacted, the bill will protect New Jersey consumers by prohibiting the sale of puppies from the worst puppy mills. The bill would require New Jersey pet dealers to be licensed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture and free of certain Animal Welfare Act violations to sell dogs to New Jersey consumers. The bill also prohibits any pet dealer who violates these provisions three times from selling in the state. Additionally, any new pet stores would be prohibited from selling puppy mill puppies under the proposed law. Let’s get this passed Jersey!

And then there’s my poop humor…

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Hopefully you had a great Monday!