Monday, May 10, 2010

Nothing To Lose

Reagan continues to decline. Just as I plot out my next strategy, the strategy becomes obsolete. I can now define the phobic trigger as motors and engines..... trains, trucks, diesel engines, lawn mowers, 4-wheelers, and so on. Also, little thuds like people closing car doors or horses tapping their feet to dislodge flies.

The idea that Reagan and I will ever compete in agility again is far from my mind. I think it would be a miracle. The truth is that Reagan's phobias have been increasing for 2 years and there is nothing to suggest that suddenly something will change for the better.

I noticed a couple of phobic reactions soon after bringing her home in February 2008. Reagan was just 10 months old and had never been off the greyhound farm when I adopted her. Being cautious of new things was to be expected, but some of her reactions were not normal, fearful, I-Have-Never-Seen-That-Before reactions. They were unreasonable and dramatic.At the time, they were few and far between. Months would pass, but I made a mental note that I needed to be very careful with Reagan as I felt she was prone to develop phobias. I managed her very carefully and made sure everything she experienced had a positive spin on it. Life went on and I think I did a pretty good job keeping the issues at bay. I almost forgot about them.

It is funny how your goals change. I used to dream about showing Reagan off at agility nationals and earning championships one day. All of it was very achievable. Now I just hope she has a somewhat normal and happy life. How much will she change in the next 2 years?

For now, we just have to take it day by day. Last Thursday, I closed the car door too many times. Saturday, clearly uncomfortable inside the house with the sound of the neighbor mowing his lawn. Yesterday, we jogged and biked. She was unsettled by the ride in Stephen's SUV and shaking in the parking lot at the trail head. All off leash privileges were revoked a couple of weeks ago. The last 2 or 3 recalls required two calls as she was trying to decide whether to listen to me or to a boat engine.... I can't trust her if she has to think about it.

Prozac has done nothing after 2 months so we are moving onto Buspar. We are also experimenting with Xanax. Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication given prior to a specific event and is not designed for daily use except in severe cases. I am keeping a journal and recording the doses, the timing, and the results so I can learn if Xanax serves a purpose in our lives. We shall see. Nothing to lose at this point.

16 comments:

Malika said...

That sure is rough stuff. :( I wish you all the best, and really hope you find something that works!!

Sam said...

There are some people who use Xanax daily with no ill effects. Have you ever been to the blog called Champion of My Heart? The blogger there uses that, in conjunction with clomipramine, daily, and it has helped her dog a lot.

I am sorry to hear about Raegan's continual decline. I hope there is some way that you can make her feel better.

Hiking Hounds said...

I'm really sorry about Reagan. She is such a great girl. I'm sure it's really hard to see this happening to her. I hope you are able to find something that will help her.

Sandy ~~~ said...

Hi...haven't been "here" all that look so I don't know everything about Reagan..but have you had her to a veterinary hearing specialist? Could she be deaf and the vibrations startle her? Could she be so, so clever that it is hard to tell she can't hear? Then, also, have you had her to a vet who can look at her mental state, rather than physical? Just throwing out ideas. I am so glad she is important to you as a friend and companion first and you care about her comfort. Many competitive people who rehome right away if the dog wouldn't "work" for them. I'll be thinking good thought toward both of you!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Thanks everyone. Sam, I have had others tell me about daily Xanax use too so I'm glad to hear that.

Sandy, I'm actually hoping Reagan goes deaf :-)... kidding aside. I have seen no information about phobias being caused by a medical problem. And if it was caused by a brain tumor or bad hearing... what next? We would probably still treat the symptoms like we are now. We have already spent a Reagan's trust fund on this problem so I don't really want to spend more money to hunt for anything that can't be cured anyway.... plus it requires travel and being in places I can't control the noises in... so probably more harm done than good. Thank you for keeping her in your thoughts though.

houndstooth said...

The more you describe her, the more she sounds like our Hawk. We didn't have him until he was about four and a half years old, though, so I can't say what he was like as a puppy. I do know that the things that freaked him out kept changing and getting weirder. By the time he was about seven, things mellowed out and he developed a more even keel. When I looked back on it, I often have wondered if he began to mildly lose his hearing (in the normal, old age sort of way) around that time. I never did try meds with him for it, we just managed him the best we could in given situations. What was always funny to me was that when we went to new places, he was always fine. You'd never have guessed anything ever bothered him when we were on vacations. Then we'd come back home and he'd fall into his regular routine.

I really hope that trying the meds works for you. I've been following this with a lot of curiosity because I hope to learn some from it. We're blessed with three girls now who are pretty much bomb proof, but you never know with the next one!

Zan said...

I really hope hope you find a way to help Reagan manage her fears. That's the problem, you can do everything under the sun, but in the end she has to overcome her own fears. You can help, but you can't do it for her. I can only imagine how frustrated you are. I'm sure she's frustrated too and doesn't like being fearful.

gyeong said...

I have no useful advice, but I hope that Reagan feels better soon.

Marie said...

Have you looked into 5htp? It helps boost seretonin levels which can help with anxiety.

I hope you find a fix soon. I can't imagine how fustrating this must be.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I have not heard of 5htp. Is it sometimes referred to by another name? We are doing BuSpar next and then I'd probably try Sertraline next.

Had a good Tuesday on Xanax. I think our success had to do with giving it 2 hours to take effect. We will explore more.

Laura of the Kudzu said...

Research low level magnesium deficiency & noise sensitivity. Also try noise stress & magnesium. There is a lot of info on how mild magnesium deficiency effects humans & other animals response to sounds including nervousness & noise sensitivity. Also some possible correlation to phobia & OCD, though those do not mention noise phobia. I've got references if you want me to email them. Just thinking that Regans quirky GI system could have caused a magnesium deficiency that has yet to resolve even with the positive response to her diet change.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Laura, I will definitely research your suggestions. Very intersting especially considering she does have a funny GI. Gosh, wouldn't it be wonderful if it was as simple as a vitamin deficiency.

Marie said...

5htp is also hydroxytryptophan. (not sure of spelling) If you punch in 5htp it does come up in search engines.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Will do. Thanks Marie.

Jen said...

OMG, Reagan is my canine doppelganger. I suffer from phobia and panic disorder, and am on Paxil and Xanax for it. I hope they can help her the way the meds have helped me! They have really been a godsend in making life livable. They don't TOTALLY clear up everything, but make it manageable.

Kudos to you for going the extra step and helping her with this stuff. I hear a lot of people who say they would never give prozac (or whatever) to their dogs, but high anxiety/panic is the most horrific feeling in the world- if I had to feed myself (or my dogs) rocks to get rid of the feeling, I would!

Not sure if they work the same way in dogs as in humans, but if they do: 1. Xanax works best and fastest on an empty stomach! and 2. SSRI's like paxil, prozac, buspar, etc are very difficult to withdrawal from once you've been on them regularly for awhile. Just something to keep in mind.

Hugs to Reagan...

Jen

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Thanks for the input, Jen. Its interesting to hear from humans that share the same problems as Reagan and to hear about how the drugs improve their state of mind.

I have noticed that Xanax is faster on a empty stomach which is usually when I am giving it (although haven't been using it lately). BuSpar might actually be helping and if it does, I doubt I'll ever try to wean her off unless there seems to be a problem or it doesn't seem to be working anymore.