Wednesday, March 17, 2010


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?