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.