Progress happens, for many reasons

I have to admit that after living with this dog for over 4 years, I’m not very good at assessing the causes affecting his progress. I came to the conclusion that I’d have to have the training and the inclination of a field biologist who noted details, keeping track of behaviors, when they occurred, where they occurred, how long they occurred, etc., to be able to come to any conclusions between Sunny’s behavior and any meds, changes in his diet, acupuncture, massage, etc. There are trainers who will tell me ‘why’ Sunny’s behavior changes and improves, often based on nebulous descriptions of energy, polarities, drives, pack hierarchy and wolves. As much as I’d like to nod and believe them, the reality is that, they can’t know for sure either. What I do know is that Sunny is learning new skills and behaviors that help him move more comfortably through his world.

That said, I do believe that he benefits from being on fluoxetine, and I give him alprozalam on occasion (the effects of this are much more immediate & obvious). So I am coming to some conclusions but they stem more from what ‘seems to be’ or from what I ‘feel’ is happening. This information may be based on years of what I have learned by observing Sunny, even if I am unable to explain exactly how I know it. Like ‘knowing’ that a dog is going to bite or snap at you even if you couldn’t describe to someone all the reasons you came to that conclusion. Wouldn’t I just love to have the ability to see into his brain and note the changes occurring there!

Add to my observations the research, anecdotal experiences of others, and recommendations of trainers and vets and I’m onboard with meds & supplements. And though it should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, I am always modifying his behavior through rewards, play and training.

This morning, after about a week on l-theanine, Sunny checked out the far side of the bedroom, which I have never seen him do before (and for anyone who has never lived or worked with a seriously damaged dog, this is the type of incremental improvement I have made note of over the years and which have added up to huge changes in his behavior). Was it because the old cocker was there, the supplement, or having spent a few days with a couple of big dogs in the house, or something else entirely? I probably will never know, but will continue with the l-theanine, especially since I discovered that I can purchase the same quality product at my local food coop for $12 a month (it was on sale!) compared to $100 through the vet’s office (sorry vets). When it was going to cost me $100 a month I was hoping I wouldn’t see any improvements from it! So in this case I’m glad that what I wanted to see is what I’m getting.

*This is not a recommendation of the supplement and pet owners should consult with their vet before adding any supplement, medication to their dog’s diet.

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5 comments so far

  1. Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart on

    You know where I stand on meds, so I’m excited to hear you’ve seen some improvement. And, I’m glad to hear you found an affordable solution.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Sunny has been on Prozac for a couple of years now, and I use Xanax with him situationally. Anything that I can do to help this guy, I will. Anything!

  2. Lizzie on

    For the past month I have been giving Gracie L-5Hydroxy Tryptophan which, in the body, converts into seratonin. Low levels of seratonin are believed to be the reason for many cases of mild or moderate depression, insomnia and feelings of anxiety, apathy, fear and worthlessness.
    Of course this is in humans, but as it’s just a food supplement that I can buy over the counter I figured I would try it for Gracie and see what happens.

    I spoke to my vet last week about Reconcile but he still insists that it is not available for dogs in the UK.

    Like you say Debbie I don’t know if the 5HTP is having any effect on Gracie but she has been quite a bit braver in some instances than she has been before. I mentioned the other day when she nudged the door open, and I’ve been taking her down to the shore in the evenings just before it gets dark when everyone else has left, and this week she finally plucked up enough courage to get out of the car and followed me down onto the sand. Well she absolutely loved it. It seemed to me that she was enjoying the texture of the sand and when she finally encountered the sea, she started playing with it as is if it were a solid substance rolling in and out. I’ve never seen her so happy to be away from home. Of course, it goes without saying that if she sees anyone, she goes into the army crawl and heads straight back to the car, never mind where I am. But she recovers instantly and is always willing to give it another go the following day.

    However, it is still my belief that time is the biggest influence where Gracie is concerned. I give her the consistency, stability and opportunity, she finds the courage from within and hey presto achievement is made.
    She has a certain zest for life that is infectious and a joy to see.

    If she can find the courage then I can certainly give her the time.

    • fearfuldogs on

      How very cool is that Lizzie! I know how fabulous it must have felt to see her playful and happy.

      Some vets are willing to prescribe meds ‘off label’ for dogs.

      Here’s an idea for the next time you see someone and you think she’s going to flee, get her attention and invite her to flee with you. She may benefit from learning that you understand, and she’s going to get what she wants by following your cues. You might find that one day she’ll be willing to sit in the car, and after the monster had gone away will go out and join you for another round of play.

      Just a thought! Congratulations by the way!

  3. Lizzie on

    Many thanks Debbie 🙂

    Your thoughts are always welcome.


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