Some of you know the story of my dog Stormy, some of you don’t. Today’s post is about her background and how it’s impacted her life with us over the last three years. It’s also about what is in store, hopefully, based on the last week.
First, a new picture for you to enjoy.
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Stormy is a Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog) who has lived a life of double rescues. She is not just a pretty face, but she’s a girl who’s been rescued on two different occasions. Why is beyond me. She is a very sweet, loving and kind dog. She’s smart and funny and all the things you look for in a canine companion except face-licking-affectionate. I can live without the last one as long as she’s happy.
For the past 3 years we’ve been working very hard on her becoming a part of the family, and being happy in her skin. Unfortunately, no matter how much love and attention we lavish on her she’s still fearful. Not snapping-at-any-movement fearful, but the kind of fearful that means when you drop your soda can into the trash she hides upstairs in the bathroom (known as Sheltie Headquarters at our house.)
This past spring was a terrible time for her. The house next door to us was demolished. You want to make a fearful animal truly insane, bring on the big machine that eats houses, dump trucks, boulders crashing into dumpsters, and strangers just on the other side of the fence.
Add to the mix a new privacy fence that blocks your view of the universe at 2 feet tall (the barrier of the hedges/house next door left with the demolition and left us feeling vulnerable and exposed,) and all the workmen that did the building.
Finally, add in the morons in our neighborhood who set off large explosions all summer long around ten at night. Yup, not just on the fourth, but pretty much year round, there’s one fool who detonates a large explosion almost every night. It’s semi-randomly timed, so I can’t figure out which yard it’s coming from when I go out to look.
This has left our girl with such an excess of anxiety that it was manifesting itself every day in the form of panic attacks. Before you really annoy me, and try to tell me that dog’s don’t have anxiety issues, I’d ask you to just remember that I’ve had plenty of dogs who were a little skittish over loud noises, but generally had the same level of “who cares” that I try to maintain.
This was different. She was ready to crawl out of her own skin most days for the past few months. She’s been like this on occasion in the past, but now it was becoming the norm. I’d tried everything I could think of: prayer, treats, petting her, holding her (supposedly dogs hate that last one) and keeping things low key.
It all went in the tank after a week where we had a 3 a.m. thunderstorm five nights in a row. She was bonkers, I was sleep deprived. The call to the vet was made and a diagnosis rendered. I picked up the puppy Prozac on Friday.
My greatest fear was that I’d be messing with a mind that is full of fun things. She’s really a clown some of the time, and enjoys her capers almost as much as I do. I was worried that she’d quit barking at airplanes, running in circles and all of her other quirky behaviors.
I need not have feared.
The change, thus far, has all been for the good. Each day she seems a bit more at ease with her world. A little less frantic about noises, sudden movement, and my recording equipment. She spends less time upstairs, and more time in the living room with us.
I know it’s too soon to bank it. But after a few days it seemed that it was helping. I pray that it continues. You see, I’m in love with my dog and want her to be happy. She was miserable the last two months. Now she’s back where she was prior to April. I’m hoping to see it move to a new level.
Perhaps yesterday was an indication of the goal being met. I was working on editing an audio book and she spent about three hours sitting next to me on the couch while I clacked on the keyboard and listened to the edits on my headphones. No way that would have happened even three months ago. It’s almost as though she’s getting past the cloud of anxiety and enjoying the love that’s been there all along.
I won’t preach about mental health and medication to you. Not my place. But given the change these medications have made in many people I know, and what they seem to be doing for my dog, I’d encourage you to seek professional help if you suffer from anxiety.
That itchy skin is no fun for anyone..
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So glad this is working for her and for you. I know what it’s like to have a dog that stresses over the garbage trucks a country block away and any other noise that is loud or intrusive. I suspect their excellent hearing must be amplified for some of them. If it works, it’s a good thing because that kind of fear can’t be doing her any good for her well-being. I’ll pray she’ll be able to continue to enjoy her life with those who love her so much.