Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Better Living Through Chemicals

Looks like a mellow guy doesn't he? Yeah, except when he needs to be left home alone! Porter has had issues with separation anxiety for a long time. It ebbs and flows and we had gone through at least one major deconditioning episode a few years back after a particularly bad summer (road construction/blasting a block away and very hot weather). He had been doing okay, though we tried to minimize how often and long he would be left alone, until this summer. It got bad again! We had to move his dog house as, in his efforts to free himself, he got into the neighbors basement window and slipped his collar (thereby not strangling). After the move, we left him one day and came back to no sauna door.

Seperation anxiety is akin to a panic attack. The destruction is out of the animals control, usually happens shortly after being left, and punishing him will only make the anxiety worse. Since I knew there were times we would need to leave him home alone and I was limited in the amount of time I had to work on the deconditioning it was time to call the vet for medications.

Our first attempt was valium. Dogs can take a huge dose! One that would be near lethal to a human. We tried it one day when he would be home alone a very short time. We ended up with essentially a drunk dog with the munchies - he ate everything in sight, food or non-food. Not good.

Our second attempt was clomipramine. Now, that takes time to build up in the system (as do most tricyclic antidepressants) and we did not have a lot of time as Porter would need to be home alone for three days while I was at work. This despite efforts to find a dogsitter to stay with him - it is really hard to find someone who is available during the day!

We started the meds last week and today he was home alone for 8 hours. We had been working on some deconditioning stuff all along (all good things happen out in the backyard/near his doghouse - food for example; enter/exit through the back door; leaving him out on his line - on the front porch - most of the day while we were home; reinforcing obedience training skills) and he seemed to be doing well with it, but I was still not sure what I would come home to.

I came home to a dog laying in his doghouse, who greeted me appropriately (not excessively) and no destruction out back. Report from the neighbor was that he did his usual whining for a bit, chewed on a log, then hung out. He did wait until I was back to pick up his treat-stuffed kong and seemed to have skipped eating most of his morning meal - though was happy to finish that up once I was there. Yeah!!! Now to get through the next two days.

I am continuing to work on the deconditioning, but it is easier with the help of a pharmaceutical.

Tonight he came with to the Wednesday night run. I had thought I had someone lined up to watch him while I ran, but that fell through at the last minute so I asked around at the race and eventually met up with a friends 14 yr old nephew who was willing to hang out with Porter. Thanks Ian! [Why not run with Porter you ask? Well, I did that on Sunday and despite all the fun he had during that run (tail up and wagging, stayed ahead of me) the next day it became apparent his running days are over - he could hardly walk his back end was so stiff and sore. He still is having trouble shaking without falling over. It is a sad day in the wildknits household].

I got to run and it didn't hurt! This is only the second run I have done since Bown's Point and only my second race in the Fall Series. My IT band has been a problem. Sunday I ran three miles, slow but hilly, and was hurting by the end. Then I went on to play not one, but two, 90 minute soccer games. I was really hurting by the end of the second game and needed assistance descending the hill from the soccer field. Today felt pretty good despite the hilly course. I had taken 600 mg of ibuprofen before the run ;-> but only felt a little soreness and tightness below my knee on the lateral side of my lower leg, not where I usually feel the pain.

I am feeling a lot more hopeful about being able to run more regularly. BTW - soccer had not been bugging my leg in the previous two games and I only think it was bad last Sunday because: 1) I ran earlier that day and 2) I played for three hours. I wonder if faster running (soccer is a lot of sprinting, direction changes, and running backwards) might not be as hard on my ITB. Hmmm. Interesting theory at least.

The foam roller came in the mail yesterday. Six inches is really wide!! I think I could have gotten away with four, and am really glad I only ordered an 18" vs 3' roller. Tried it out last night briefly. Hard to balance on it and especially hard to keep using it in areas that hurt (which is the whole point after all). But I will persist as there are races to be run this fall and races to plan and train for in the coming year.

Knitting???? Started another ribbed hat, this time in a yarn called - of all things - Tuna (yes Chris I still have some of it). Not sure of its country of origin - can't read the label, do know it is 100% wool and moth-proof though.

Am holding the bird mittens' thumbs hostage until I get a foot tracing from my daughter. It is hard to finish a project if you have nothing in the line-up. I have yarn for a pair of socks I would like to knit as a gift, but need the tracing from someone with a sz 13- 14 foot (male). She happens to know someone like that and it won't spoil the surprise like asking the actual recipient would ;->

Temps are cool up north and the colors are really starting to pop out. Looking forward to the weekend and time on the Superior Hiking Trail even farther north. Will take Porter ( of course) and a camera, so may have some pictures to post by early next week.

If anyone is interested check out:

I will be helping out with the roving aid station. The course photos brought back a lot of fond memories of training runs this summer.


SteveQ said...

I don't know much about the effects of drugs on dogs, but that's some pretty heavy stuff (for humans)Porter's been taking. I've avoided getting a dog just because of the separation problem; I think the best solution is to have two dogs - they don't care whether you're there or not, if there's another dog.

Having met Porter, I can't imagine him being destructive!

Chris said...

Poor Porter - hope the latest med continues to help!