Friday, September 16, 2016

Prozac Puppy

I never thought I'd be saying thank god for Prozac, but here I am saying just that.

Toby has been on it for a little over a month now, and we are seeing the affects. One of my biggest concerns was that he'd start acting all stoned and dopey but that is not the case. He still has his good days and bad, but over all we're seeing improvements.

1. We're using far fewer treats during our walks these days. He still perks up when he sees someone walking or in their yard, but usually a treat or two will get him through. He's also been "missing" more people in their yards lately so we can walk past without incident. It is making morning walks before the coffee has kicked in much easier. Other dogs we still need to avoid. And also our neighbor Sylvia. Poor Sylvia. It's embarrassing.

2. Much less lunging after the cats. He will still do it, usually when he's exhausted or has otherwise been pushed past his toleration level. But we have been able to co-exist with the cats in our laps while watching television in the evenings again. Something we frankly thought we wouldn't be able to do anymore. It can be an uneasy acceptance sometimes, but it is there. Bauer's incessent yaowling seems to be the thing that sets him off most often. Neither of us can really blame him. It gets on our last nerves as well.

3. He's barking less when we leave him alone. We think. We're pretty sure. He still puts up a fuss when we shut him up in the bedroom, but more times than not the barking stops when we close the front door. And when we come home and open the front door, we don't hear him barking either. Of course, short of putting a camera in the room we have no idea if he's barking the whole time we're gone or not, but we think not. He's also calming down much quicker when we let him out as well. He still freaks out when he notices we (well, okay... *I*) get ready to leave the house. But baby steps.

4. He's whining less when we drive somewhere. It used to be damned near intolerable, the whining coming from the backseat. Whether we were just garage saleing around the neighborhood or doing a 251 adventure, the whining would get exponentially louder for each second he was in the car. He still does it, but for the most part it is much softer, less intense, and he gets through it. He doesn't like being in the car; he's usually got this hangdog expression of abject resolution that this is one more thing he must endure. But he's bitching less so we'll take it.

There are still things we need to work on. For instance, we haven't had people over since well before the Prozac came into our lives. My dance troupe is getting together this weekend here so it should be interesting. But we both believe it's time to start training him on stopping barking when it's become clear that they're friends and here for a while. We've also come to the conclusion that he is always going to bark when he sees someone walking by on the sidewalk. He's a dog. That's what they do. At least, that's what all the other dogs in the neighborhood do. Why not him?

All of our work with Toby has made me realize how critical it is to socialize your dogs. They are social creatures by nature, and keeping them isolated from other humans and dogs does them an incredible disservice. Of course, each dog has their own personality and preferences and honoring those should also be important. But properly socialized dogs do not act like this. Unfortunately, at 8 years old, there is only so much socialization training we can do.

But when I wake up in the middle of the night and I feel him cuddled right up next to my leg, I know we're doing something right. Whatever else we're all struggling with, he knows we love him.

That's pretty damned awesome.

I was laying in Savasana when I got the feeling someone was standing over me...

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