Sunday, December 21, 2008

Family Trip

Stephen, the greyhounds, and I took our first family trip in the new van. We traveled to Alabama to visit with Stephen's parents.

Happy Driver

Happy Passengers

..... Stacker, the hound who rides uncrated because we can only fit 5 crates.

..... Reagan and Riley sleeping soundly most of the way.

And then there is Katie.

Katie does not seem to travel as well as she used to. I cannot pinpoint it exactly, but I think this may have started after her spinal stroke.

When Katie's left hind leg was dealing with some paralysis and neurological weakness, she became extremely fearful of laying on her left side. I believe this was because she could not jump to her feet quickly because the left hind leg was not able to do its job.

Once she had partially recovered, I started to work on getting her to lie down on her left side again using a clicker and food. If anything, I felt that getting up and down using the left hind was good rehab exercise. I also would have her lie down and I would get her to roll from one hip to the other as practice.

At this point, I would say that Katie is back to being about 90% functional. Part of the decrease has to do with her age (10 years). At some point, you just don't jump as high or feel as stable as you used to. I could see that happening a little prior to the spinal stroke and I think the spinal stroke simply sped up the process.

So back to traveling. I think that some of this caution and fear that developed due to the hind leg weakness has had a residual effect on how she reacts to being jostled or rocked. There were several occasions that I or the vet techs fought with her to make her lie down not realizing that she simply did not want to lie on the left side. At the risk of over analyzing this, I think that sometimes the traveling reminds her of the fear and fight of avoiding the left side and it creates an unhappy experience in the van.

It is uncomfortable to watch her for 3 hours. Most of the time I am driving so I do not see how uncomfortable she appears. She will stand up, turn around, and fluff bedding over and over and over again. Bumps and noises cause worrisome expressions.

I may have to come up with some creative ways to improve the traveling experience for her. Maybe even something like a stuffed Kong or a bully stick each time could make traveling more fun and help Katie to forget the bad experiences. With her intense food motivation, changing her mind is always easiest to accomplish through her stomach.


BrittBeah said...

It is hard to see them age so much faster then we do :( Glad she is made happier through her tummy.

greytblackdog said...

stacker looks like, "where's my crate?" maybe some distraction for katie will help her like riding again. it just sucks to get old.

Maria Peters said...

Lookin' good travelin' in the new fam van!

Katie does look worried...give that girl a bully stick. I've been chucking treats in the back of the Element whenever June lays down...I am fantasizing about crates in a van. LOL.

Zan said...

Love the arm rests :-)!!

Poor Katie. Sounds like one of those times when you really wish she could talk so you'd know what has her so worried. I know you'll get it sorted out though.

KF-in-Georgia said...

Good luck with Katie. Sam's an unhappy traveler--doesn't want to be left behind, but doesn't like the "getting there" part of traveling. (Jacey sees her car harness and jumps for joy. She likes the ride.) Sam just stands in the back seat and pants and drools until he gets tired, when he lies down and pants and drools. He starts panting and drooling before I start the engine. (He got car sick twice soon after I got him. He started stressing soon after.) For a long ride, I'll give him a benadryl before we leave; it doesn't knock him out, but it takes the edge off. I thought that if he could travel a few times without being sick, Sam would get over his stress, but after all these years, I don't think it's going to happen.

OT: In your lists of tags on your blog, could you please include a "diet" tag for entries where you've discussed raw food diets, treats, etc. I have a friend who now is--literally--snowed in in Minnesota and is trying to figure out what people food is safe to feed her two Clumber Spaniels. She's not looking to change their diets long-term, and she's aware that a short-term change might have bad consequences--but she's running out of dog food. I just left a note on a forum that, yes, oatmeal is safe for dogs. And I told her to google B.A.R.F. diet to find other possible recipes. (She and her husband live in the country, and there are pick-up trucks broken down and stranded at either end of the road so that the snow plow can't get to them.)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Maria, we've got a nice, old, white van for sale :-P. It could make your dreams come true! :-)

Katie isn't a full blown carsick dog, but she acts as if she is nervous. I think I have a better shot at changing worrying than I would carsick.

Kathy, I don't have very many raw food posts, but I did add a subject.


Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

Why doesn't the driver have at least one hand on the wheel?! :-o and why isn't he looking at the road! No wonder Katie is nervous. j/k
Hope she gets better about riding in the van, you travel way too much for her not enjoy it!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I thought the same thing, Denise. None of my pictues included a hand on the steering wheel. Katie is probably just fine when I am driving then.


Pam said...

We can fit 6 crates in our van (used to do 7 when one was a little-dog crate). Or, we can do 5crates and 2 or 3 dogs loose. (I recently did a 12 hour drive to Richmond, VA alone with 8 dogs in the van)!

I've found the older they get, the more trouble they have riding in crates. So, while it isn't as safe, we let the oldsters ride loose.

Barb said...

Although she's obviously got lots of comfortable bedding, you might try adding some sort of bolster.

As they get older, I find that dogs often do feel less secure when riding and seem to like having something more comfortable to lean/brace against than the wire side of the crate.

I'll put a body pillow in a Dane crate - but that might not leave her much room! :-) You might try one or two regular pillows, or a rolled up blanket or towel and see if that helps.

I think the bully stick and/or stuffed Kong will help, too.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Thanks for the tips everyone.