Reub's journey

27 May 2013

Reub gets better

According to Real-time Analytics, somebody is looking at Ed and Reub right now. They are from Caro, Michigan, and they have entered the key words "my dog is on Prozac what are the side effects?"

 My dog is also on Prozac.

It seems that the vast majority of visitors to this blog have a dog like Reuben; they're struggling with issues of anxiety and the fine line between fear and aggression. They've made multiple visits to vets and trainers; their dogs have had blood tests, temperament tests, and thyroid tests. Fluoxetine has been prescribed, side effects have set in. When they google about their worries they end up here, at a post written two years ago about Reub and Prozac. If you look at the comments you'll see that it's become a bit of a sounding board, a chat room for people with troubled dogs. I have to remember to update from time to time, letting people know where Reub is at.




Because of the number of visitors to that post, plus comments and emails regarding fluoxetine and dogs, I can never stop blogging. Once you begin certain conversations it's wrong to end them.



Dogs are endearing, exasperating, complicated creatures. They're family members to whom we commit care and love.




Sometimes life with them is bumpy and you have to do your best to figure it out.





So where is Reub at?

Reub is better in many ways. We have had no dog-on-dog aggression in a very long time. Nobody has been bitten. He's been tolerant of our grandchild. There have been no added triggers of anxiety. And we have been exceedingly watchful owners, careful to avoid situations which he is unequipped to handle.





But the real test is what happens when he has no choice. For example, how would he react when a new dog is introduced the family? This is Calvin, our daughter's shepherd mix, who will be staying with us for the next seven months. On the day he arrived, we met at a park and immediately went for a walk. Three years ago, this may have been a disaster, but last week it went perfectly.





We are now a newly-formed pack. It helps that Calvin is a sweet, socially-skilled fellow.



We look forward to a smooth time with all three dogs.


34 comments:

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    1. Gosh twg, I think you've been around long enough to have followed the whole trip. :) Thank you!

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  2. Healing in this way, I mean the way you have cared for and loved Reuben, is redemptive on so many levels. Thank you.

    Beautiful pictures!

    So glad you must blog forever. I am for it.

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    1. Thank you Reya. I know that you have a very deep understanding of the way it is to have a dog like this. I very much appreciate your comment.

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  3. Being able to introduce a third pack member, without incident, is huge. Terrific progress. Well done.

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    1. Tanks. Fingers crossed that it continues.

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  4. Bonnie was the first dog I ever had who would bite--both people and other animals. I never took her to the vet about it, although I did tell the vet about it, after which he put a red sticker on her chart, and muzzled her a few times. I was good at holding her, so he finally stopped muzzling her.

    One thing Bonnie taught me was that when I'm meeting a new dog, I should never extend my open hand because she always took this as an opportunity to nail a person. Now, I gently extend my closed fist, and I don't even do that until I spend some time sizing up a dog. After all, no one could tell that Bonnie might bite them until the moment she did it. I'm no more afraid of dogs because of her, but I am a lot more intelligent around them, and very desirous of not being bitten because I did something stupid. I used to just be grateful that she never pursued a person--and rarely a dog--after having bitten it once.

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    1. There are a surprising number of dogs with aggression problems. Sounds like you learned how to deal with it in Bonnie without the use of drugs, and it sounds like you learned some good lessons in how to approach strange dogs. The fist vs open hand is probably a real good idea.

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  5. I must have just deleted my P.S. What I said was (and I think you know) that we had to Bonnie put to sleep last month at age 15 1/2. We've had dogs almost continuously for decades, and I don't know if we'll ever have another, partly for the reasons you stated.

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    1. I did read about Bonnie when she died, and I can see why you are happy enough with Brewsky. Bonnie did have a long happy life with you.

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  6. That first image is mystical in it's simplicity. A truly great photograph.

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    1. Hey Stephen, thank you. It's a strange photo, but I like it too.

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  7. So wonderful when everyone gets along...

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    1. Yep. And really tough when they don't.

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  8. I am so glad to read that the introduction of Calvin to round off a trio with Ed and Reub has been smooth. I do hope that this will not only continue but that, since Calvin is sweet and socially-skilled, as you write, perhaps a sort of canine friendship will bring unexpected positive effects.

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    1. Every positive interaction is like a building block that slowly adds up to some semblance of normal-and-happy. Not unlike what happens with humans when they put their lives together I guess.

      Calvin is a hunny.

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  9. I have been curious about Reub and now I know. It is wonderful what can be done for our dogs now. There was a time when putting them down was the "humane" thing to do. Yikes! Right now we are blessed with a dog who came here as a stray pup and is so grateful for a loving home she desires only to do good. The only time she panics is when Ron picks up a fly swatter to swat flies. Slim has to immediately get out of the room. Somewhere in her past she was terribly mistreated by someone with a fly swatter. She is now seven years old but the mystery still haunts her. Reub sure hit the jackpot when he got you:)

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    1. I wish it were just fly swatters that put Reub over the edge. But something much worse must have happened to him when/before he was abandoned & then spent months languishing in shelters.

      Our vet once looked Reub in the eyes & told him he's the luckiest dog in Oregon. I am just glad that, as you say, there are resources to help a dog like him.

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  10. its lovely to see them hanging out together so nicely ... they really are part of the family, having a dog or cat is a serious commitment ... to love and cherish in sickness and in health ...

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    1. Indeed, once you take in an animal you are bound to see him/her through the duration. And that can be a long time.

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  11. Sigh of relief for you. So glad they all are getting along as a pack.

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    1. We were worried that it would be difficult, so I studied up on the best ways to avoid problems. Going for a walk together in neutral territory worked well as an introduction.

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  12. Love, compassion, patience, and diligence can work wonders. Yay for the new pack.

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  13. I'm so glad you were able to help Reub with his problems, and bless you for continuing to update and answer the questions people ask on your old post. We had a beloved pet with dog-on-dog aggression 10 years ago and it didn't end so well. I'm happy your story is continuing on a happy path!

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    1. Reub is a work in progress. I will never completely trust him because I don't believe you can ever eradicate anxiety completely, and I hope with all my might that we continue to have smooth sailing. I'm so sorry about your dog of 10 years ago. Believe me, I know how difficult it is to have such a pet.

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  14. My dog is also on Prozac.

    we got him from a shelter about 4 years ago. About a year later the fights between our dogs started, We worked with a trainer, who had us using positive reinforcement but also using corrections for fighting. we used a shock collar for distance recall. We didn't seem to have any negative effects and he was doing awesome. His aggression would rise back up in winter when his exercise was down. Over the years he became more anxious, afraid of strange men, noises behind him, the vacuum etc. He would attack the other animals over food or toys. Most recently he attacked our cat(and broke his jaw) for being in his "Space." Well we started Prozac a couple months ago and started new training- counter conditioning. I don't know if I notice much of a difference in his behavior. I will admit we haven't been very good about giving him his medication lately so obviously that could be why. He has been on his therapeutic dose level for about a month or so but that's with forgetting pills a couple times a week. I have been leaving it up to my boyfriend to give him his pills but im going to start doing it myself now. I have notice he seems to have chills sometimes, his teeth chatter. He also is slower than usual on walks, I am almost dragging him.--but his insanely high pretty drive hasn't changed at all! He has also lost his appetite. I sure hope this starts working better...

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    1. Hi Jackie,
      The trembling, loss of appetite, and lethargy are all possible side effects of fluoxetine. Reub experienced all of that in the first 2 months, but it wore off and now there's none of it. We're really religious about giving him his meds every night, so maybe it will help if you get your boy on a schedule. Reub has stopped adding stuff to his list of snxiety-triggers & we think the drug has helped.

      Regular exercise is important & helpful but kinda tough if he's too lethargic to do it. Does he like to swim? Chase balls?

      Not sure what counter conditioning is, but I'm gonna look it up. :)

      Good luck with your dog! I hope he makes progress.

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    2. he does like to chase balls, maybe we will do more of that until he gets his energy back. Runs/walks with him are like resistance training- I'm pulling him! lol Counter conditioning, we are rewarding him for NOT doing the negative behavior rather than correcting the neg behavior. So when the cat walks by and he doesn't try to kill him, we are supposed to treat him so he will think the cat rocks and good things happen when he comes around.

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    3. By all means, chase balls! A great appropriate outlet to feed his prey drive! And then go running on your own, which will seem like a treat without a reluctant canine dragging you back:)

      Aha. Counter conditioning. We do this with Reub every time we're on a run or walk & have to pass another dog or person on a bike. All he has to do is go past them for a treat. I have to carry dog treats wherever I go, just to reward what others might see as average behavior.

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  15. Thanks for the update on Reuben. I'm so happy he's doing well. I found your blog today because I just started my foster dog (a double merle aussie who is deaf and mostly blind) on Fluoxetine and I was tying to learn more about it and what to expect. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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    1. Hi Mel! Thanks for leaving a comment. I imagine that anxiety problems must be common with partially blind/deaf dogs because life is always throwing unexpected stuff at them. Best of luck with your foster dog! I hope the meds help him.

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