Reub's journey

07 September 2011

Where Reub is at

Reuben: Ed's best friend, and my foot warmer as I sit at the computer wondering what to say about him. It has been four months since we consulted a specialist about his mounting anxiety and aggression, four months of training and Reconcile (Prozac, marketed for dogs). Four months of wondering if we could "fix" him. I bought a muzzle for him.
How will this end?

Truth is, no matter what, you can never know how anything will end. I do know this: we've gone through training with him, yet we must never stop training. We've put him on meds, and now we can never take him off. We have restricted him to his leash, and outside of the yard, he must always be on leash.

I don't believe that he is "fixed" and that suddenly we can pretend that he is a happy, well-adjusted creature in this large and confusing world. However. We have had no incidences of aggression in four months.  On a run this past week, twice, he went right past two intimidating "type A" dogs. He did grrrufff on the way past a hiker with a headset on, a person who neglected to greet us when we greeted her...Reub takes exception to that kind of behavior...if you are unfriendly, he will be unfriendly. No amount of Prozac will change his mind, but it does slow down his reaction time.

Before finishing this post I went to ring the doorbell;  five months ago this was a flip-out time for Reub. Tonight Eddy barked. Reub got up, stretched, and came to check it out. I hugged him and gave him a treat.  He has yet to learn how to react when strangers come to the door, but this is a start.

We know that Reub's journey is not over, that it could still end badly.  We know that when we adopted him he hadn't had an easy start to his life, that we would have to work with him. 

 It is about commitment. Yes, thankfully he is better, but it isn't over.


  1. Awww....sweet little guy. Love the blue water one. And the "hands crossed." I have pics like that of my cat :)

  2. I love this post, everything about it, the patience in your "voice", the love. The pictures are beautiful. I love the way dogs cross their paws sometimes. It's so elegant for such a dorky animal.

    Perhaps I should have put Jake on Prozac. I did the training, kept him on leash, did everything I could think of except the drug.

    In San Francisco we took a class called "growly dog." Great class, great name for a class. Jake was just so darn scared, always. Poor baby.

    Reuben is very very very very lucky to have you, Kerry. Very.

  3. i applaud your vigilance and your love of this boy... :)

  4. You are so loving and patient. He's a lucky dog.

  5. Every leash walk is a training opportunity, as you know. You are right. It will be ongoing for the rest of his life. That's not a bad thing. All that you have achieved is its own reward. He's a beautiful dog and, without you he would probably have been discarded and destroyed by now. Hats off to you.

  6. Like kids, it's worth every bit of effort when you love them.

  7. Thanks y'all. We'll keep at it. I wish we didn't have to have him on this drug, but it has helped.

  8. Hi thank you for writing this, I am about to start my dog on Fluoxetine (Prozac) for anxiety aggression and reactivity (which all go hand in hand) and have so many concerns about is it the right thing to do. We have done training, and desensitization excercises but it just doesnt seem to be enough. I had fluoxetine mentioned to me by the vet about 6 months ago and was pretty much against it, and thought of it as a last resort. Im not sure we are at the last resort stage just yet but I think I am willing to give it a go, I am hoping that it just takes the edge off of the reactivity and makes him mellow out just a bit so that he can stop and think about what the right response is rather than just "reacting".

    Thankyou for sharing your story.

    1. Hi Vanessa, The drug has definitely helped slow the reaction time & for that reason we keep Reub on it. It sounds like you have a dog with similar issues & so I hope this works for him as well. We all do what we can for our dogs, eh?

  9. Yet another one brought to you via Google! We have 4 pups (2 goofy happy social pit mixes, 1 neurotic lab/ golden retriever mix that has survived being struck by lightning, and 1 Canaan/ Belgian Shepherd mix that is more like a wolf and also has epilepsy). The lab mix and the Canaan mix get along great with both of the pit mixes but try to kill each other. The lab mix Callie was abandoned which is how we ended up with her and she has severe barking, chewing on herself, spaz out moments when she isn't next to my husband or myself. Plus she is insane over lights, she will sit for hours looking at the wall extremely worked up just waiting for the sun to catch a bird feeder and shine a light into the room. Callie had some issues in the beginning with me (I'm the drill instructor of the house since I'm the Navy vet and have trained dogs for almost 10 years). After several bites she so graciously gave me she earned the prong collar. Now when we get the collar out she knows it's just for walks and her tail doesn't stop thumping. Callie has also started her fluoxetine which I'm hoping in time will help calm her mind and allow her to enjoy a life less neurotic.
    The Canaan mix is SueZQ. She hides behind my legs, runs from strangers, and will never be the dog who licks and gives kisses especially to someone's face. SueZQ has seizures that aren't severe but happen daily. She has fly catching syndrome epilepsy. She has also started her fluoxetine, hopefully it will help her fear aggression especially since she has taken that aggression out on Callie (Callie has also taken out a few bites to SueZQ so they are both to blame in some way)
    I have been so worried about the side effects but after reading every post and every comment I think I will be able to sleep easy tonight. Thank you so much for sharing about Rueb and to each person who commented for sharing about your special pups. I have been sobbing myself to sleep for so long thinking I failed my girls and that I must have done something wrong. I know better and now know we aren't alone with our special girls. I know we have them because just like all of you we were entrusted with them because we will stop at nothing to keep them as happy as possible while also keeping them safe. We make sacrifices for them because they are worth it, they are not "normal" but they are special and they deserve whatever it takes to let them be able to enjoy the sun and their families as long as possible.
    We are just starting our fluoxetine so prayers please that it works for both girls!!


    1. Codi, you certainly haven't failed!! But oh wow, you do have your hands full! Holy cow. What a lot of challenges. However you seem to be on top of things and I do so hope that you see improvement as time goes by.


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