Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Overwhelmed

I just started a new book and the first line reads "The jewels in life are things we do not plan".... Gosh, I hope so because I did not plan for noise phobias. It is so hard to predict when choosing a dog. I am not sure it is even preventable. It is one thing for a dog to be cautious or fearful, but phobic is unreasonable. You can't negotiate or make deals with a phobia.

Most of you are familiar with storm phobic dogs. If you are a dog lover, you likely have had some experience with a dog that has an unrealistic, inconsolable fear of storms. But imagine your dog has the same sort of reaction to:

A loud chirping bird. Tree tops blowing overhead. A kennel of dogs barking out of sight and safe distance away. A distant, unknown boom (that bothered no one else). Kites flying on a beautiful day. The thud a horse makes when stomping feet during fly season. Train engines. Other similar sounding engines. Road noise (the van). Neighbor's 4-wheeler when idling. Sometimes it doesn't appear to be anything at all... at least not something I can hear.

Some of these happened before Reagan turned a year old. The episodes did not happen very often, but she could not function when they did. We worked through those and I made a note to myself that Reagan seemed to have a temperament prone to phobias. I have carefully managed her experiences and appeared successful until now. Suddenly, the phobias have dramatically increased in frequency and intensity in just the last few weeks. I have lost my grasp. Something happens everyday now.

I am consulting with a behaviorist from Tufts University. Reagan is now on Prozac, Tufts preferred drug of choice for noise phobias. It will take up to 2 months to determine if it is helping. In the meanwhile, we can use Xanax or a beta-blocker to help with immediate problems, but it is important to avoid her triggers until the Prozac has had time to improve her well being. Life now revolves around Reagan and I am totally overwhelmed with internal conflict. Should I take the van or the hatchback? She is okay in the hatchback.... for now, but I see glimmers of that not being the case for much longer. But I love my van. Maybe I shouldn't use the van right now if there is any chance we may resolve that problem. Regardless of my choice... "People, stop tailgating me! I am sorry I am driving so slow, but I am not driving slow to ruin your day or because everything is perfect in my life. Your honking makes you look like an @#$%&@#$%&@#$%&!"

The phobias are invading all aspects of my life (as I type this post at work cause it is all I can think about). I have seen it on our farm field trips. It was easy enough to avoid the barn. It is unavoidable on my favorite hike, so we do not hike there anymore. Finally, I saw it at the training building and my agility field last weekend. I always felt safe at those two places. "Phobia, please stay away from my house and my backyard."

I'm exhausted with 3 dogs needing 3 different things. I was planning on getting a greyhound puppy this summer, but I can't imagine having 4 dogs that need 4 different things.

I'm on edge. I hear everything now. I notice every train in my environment, every car that passes my house, and every basketball bounce. I used to love planning my week. "We'll do agility on Monday, hike on Tuesday, go to the training building on Wednesday....." Now, I wait till the last minute to determine what I can stomach or should I just leave her home.

A fully understand that there are far greater misfortunes, but in my happy, charmed life this is a big deal. Sorry for all of the complaining. I just need to wipe the tears and not take it so personally. There is something to learn here.

How much do I owe you guys for this therapy session?

17 comments:

BrittBeah said...

:(
This is horrible. I do hope the meds help, but those do take time.

Knowing how these things progress. I look at Set's storm phobia and cross my fingers that by continuing to ignore him when he shows signs of freaking out it will continue to not get worse.
Good luck.

Maria Peters said...

(((((Jennifer)))))...I so know where you are coming from. Strong and smart women are used to solving problems and getting results...then it gets messed up when another being's will or personality throws a great big hurdle at progress. This is a big deal and yes, it can make a person CRAZY. You are doing the best that you can...and not getting results. Type A's are not happy with this. I was very touched by your post...that you were vulnerable. Thanks for sharing what's in your heart.

houndstooth said...

I hope the meds help! I didn't realize her phobias had escalated so much. Have you had her blood levels tested to see if she's having some medical issues?

Zan said...

Sometimes the hardest part is admitting you're doing everything you can and that some things you just can't fix. I know just how hard that is to do. I hope the meds work.

BTW, you're not complaining...you just want good things for Reagan. Unfortunately, she has to be the one to fix this, all you can do is guide her along the way. If anyone can get her past her fears, you can. Thanks for sharing.

Tarmar said...

Sorry to hear that Reagan has progressed to this point. I know you have tried many, many things with her. I hope that in time, she will recover and you'll find that performance dog inside and bring her back to the surface. Meanwhile, hang in there and know that you have many friends and fans who are rooting for you!

jcp said...

Sorry to hear that you are having difficulties with this. It can be difficult to deal with these types of limitations. It is great that you are willing to share these issues with us. My boy has a different set of limitations and this helps me appreciate what he is doing well. I hope the meds help.

Laura of the Kudzu said...

"How much do I owe you guys for this therapy session?"

It's only $90 if you file the insurance paperwork instead of us. :)

Sometimes we have to let it out. You want the best for your dogs plus you have aspirations for them and you as a team. And, darn it, you work hard at making it all fun and rewarding for them. It is frustrating and as you point out overwhelming to try to take in everything that might detract from that for Reagan. It is a huge worry.

Lucky for Reagan you are caring, resourceful and when needed downright stubborn. So you will find a way to make the world good for her. It may or may not be what you originally intended but you will find good things for both of you.

PS I wonder if there is any connection to her GI/absorption issues even though things seem good with the kibble.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Thanks for the pep talks everyone. Laura, insurance paperwork is filed :-). No, I have not run bloodwork on Reagan recently. While it would be nice to find a physical, curable cause of phobias, I just have not seen such a thing in my research. I think its like a person that can be chronically depressed or bipolar. Some of us are just wired differently.

Katie said...

Oh Jennifer, my heart truly goes out to you. I felt like my hands were full enough with Harv and his storm phobia and other minor sound sensitivity issues. He would shut down over things that were out of the ordinary- fireworks, a car backfiring- not over things that were everyday occurrences. I can only imagine how stressful it must be trying to protect your girl and find a way through this for her.

Fingers crossed that the meds work. It must be an awful thing being so scared.

Life With Dogs said...

We may be going the Prozac route with one of our Labs this summer due to storm phobia that evolved to rain phobia. I really do understand. I'll be watching with interest and hoping you have found your answer...

Kathy said...

Jen--as someone with a dog who has noise and motion phobias in everyday life, you know I totally empathize with you.

Don't give up and lean on your friends :)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I had an afternoon phobic once. Teresa was a terrible storm phobic and one summer it was storm after storm after storm. Ours usually hit in the afternoon so she started to act phobic each afternoon. It would be nice if something like Prozac would work because then you do not have to plan or predict weather. Just get started on it 2 months before rainy season. You might want Xanax for actual storms though. Prozac probably will not alleviate that. I really hate suggesting drugs, but if it improves everyone's quality of life, its probably worth it.

gyeong said...

Hang in there. Keeping fingers crossed that the meds work.

Malika said...

Wishing you all the best, Jennifer!! That sounds really frustrating -- hope something works soon!! Hang in there!

greytblackdog said...

Oh Jen. This just sucks! There's no other way to put it. Especially when you are doing everything you can and nothing is working. Drugs do great things! Fingers, toes and tails crossed that they work.

Muttsandaklutz said...

That sounds so stressful for you and all involved; I'm sorry you're having to go through this. I can't offer any advice on this subject, but in the vein of "misery loves company", my dogs' various issues have brought me to tears a few times. I won't go into details, but yes it really does feel good to cry and let it out, doesn't it! Hoping some answers come your way very soon.

Jess said...

(((HUGS)))) I've been there! Just keep leading the most normal life you can and wait for the prozac to kick in. You can;t shelter her from all noises.