Reub's journey

13 June 2016

Reub these days


 I need to post about Reuben.
It is a bit taboo to talk about an aggressive pet.



The truth is that this blog would probably not continue to exist were it not for the mental imbalance of Reub, who became dangerously unglued about five years ago, causing me to write about his medication. Prozac.



"My Dog on Prozac" continues to get hundreds of hits every month, but now Blogger can no longer support the number of comments there. If you visit that post you will see that I religiously respond to people's concerns, and that it has become an odd little forum all by itself. People who wanted to leave comments there may try leaving them here, and for as long as this blog exists, I will respond.


It's amazing, the number of cases that are worse than Reub's. Only rarely am I harsh with a commenter. Like the time a person said their dog deserved "a second chance" and would therefore re-home him before putting him down. No.



 
When you commit to an animal it is forever. Don't pass him off to somebody else. That isn't going to magically fix him and you are not doing anybody a favor. If you have an aggressive dog and are not willing to do what it takes to address the issues, then you might as well put him down. Don't leave him at a shelter, where they may not catch the problem, and then he becomes somebody else's bad situation.



Reub is an old boy now, turning white in the face. His mental health is much better, but with a dog who has bitten somebody, well, you must never ever trust them completely again, never.



Never!




Even though  there have been no signs of aggression for a very long time, except perhaps towards the UPS guy who rings the doorbell, this old fellow will always be carefully managed. Managed and loved to the end.


64 comments:

  1. I think about Ed and Reub and wonder how they are doing. Beautiful boys who have shared a meaningful part of my life. Thanks so much for sharing the love, Kerry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww Linda. I feel the same way about Lindsay. Thank you for this.

      Delete
  2. You are to be commended for taking on Reub's challenges out of love and honor of your commitment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For me there was no other choice. Reub has been an ongoing project and I have no regrets. :)

      Delete
  3. I don't know how people can abandon their pets. we get a lot of animals dumped out here. it's how I have my little dog now. three month old puppy. but even harder to understand is how you get rid of a pet that you have established a bond with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hard to understand, isn't it? People don't realize,I suppose, that animals are as much work as they are, and that it also costs money. Your little dog was lucky to have ended up in your care.

      Delete
  4. Ya dun gud. Did you put a link on the other posts to this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Umm, just one of the posts. But I should do it on all of them Thank you.

      Delete
  5. Beautifully poetic and as spot on as possible. You wouldn't pass a family member onto a stranger to look after.

    Thank you Kerry x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe not so poetic. But right? An animal is part of one's circle. Do not pass him/her off. Love you, Saul A.

      Delete
  6. I applaud you for not giving up on a difficult dog. My brother has a dog that is "alpha female" and is very aggressive towards other dogs. Although he's had lots of challenges, he has kept his dog and worked on training for her behavioral issues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your brother is doing the right thing with a difficult animal. Good!

      Delete
  7. I wouldn't have for a moment thought you would feel any other way than to commit forever to your furry friend. I don't understand how anyone could do otherwise.

    I think it's great that your post is helping so many but too bad it can no longer support new comments. May I suggest opening a Page option called My Dog is on Prozac right here on your blog? Direct folks to it from your original post. It will be visible at the top of your blog like a tab.

    I think it's great that you're able to help so many. Good job Kerry and Reub!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a good idea, Hilary. But would that help them to write comments? Not sure how it all works.

      Delete
  8. I just looked at a friend's blog where she has a few "pages" in addition to her main blog section. Some of the pages have comments enabled and some do not. According to this article, you can enable (or disable) comments on any pages you like. http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/enable-disable-comments-blogger-pages-posts/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK, will have a look. I just added a page at the top of the blog for someone who wants to quick-click on the label. But of course they all arrive at that one post by googling prozac side effects on dogs, or something like that. And now there are like 260 comments on that post from 6 years ago. More than I bargained for.

      Delete
    2. The comments are the best thing about that post. Although I never disabled them, people say they can't leave remarks anymore. :( I've wondered if they just haven't scrollllllllled long enough to get to the end?

      Delete
  9. I did not know that Prozac could be prescribed to dogs. My husband takes Prozac. We did not ask the doctor, but when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer they immediately prescribed it to him – he is always in a good mood and not aggressive. Frankly, I should be the one to take Prozac!! (since I am not always in a good mood and can be aggressive on occasions.) I love the last picture on your post of your dog as seen through binoculars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! You know I've often wondered what it would feel like to take a couple of Reub's pills. Pretty sure he wouldn't mind sharing. I don't think I want mine wrapped in liver sausage, though.

      It's good to know Prozac helps Alzheimer's patients.

      Delete
  10. i'm glad you have kept him safe and as regulated as possible.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am so glad for this post as I did originally find your blog googling prozac and dogs. Reub is a lucky boy finding you. My dog is on prozac and clonidine; he is not aggressive but fear bites when he feels threatened... he has improved but can't as you said ever be completely trusted. With us he is the sweetest most loving boy, has never shown the slightest aggression.Mostly if a man walks toward us quickly in an enclosed space like a hallway it can set hi! off. I am ever vigilant and love his 18 lbs.of neurpsis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there! What you just said about your dog is exactly what could have been said about Reub 5 years ago, plus his triggers were escalating, with more and more things that made him fearful. SO glad that we have had options.

      Delete
  12. Kudos to you. I agree. Once adopted, the pet is yours forever. I remember when you posted about the Prozac!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rebecca. Gosh, we've been around a long time!

      Delete
  13. Hi, my dog was just prescribed Prozac and Meloxicam (for arthritis) we administered the dose then she started passing a lot of blood in her feces. The doc is not sure it was medicine related.

    Did you dog ever have diarhhea or blood in thier stools when starting Prozac?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, there was no sign of that! Yikes. I hope this clears up soon .

      Delete
  14. My 7-month old rescue, a lab mix (we think he's lab and border collie, but don't know for sure), has aggression issues around strangers. He's the sweetest dog in the world with my fiancee and I, but only has two other people he'll allow around him. He can't stay calm long enough to do any of the behavioral training that the specialist we've been working with has recommended. We've started him on Prozac, and are combining that with agility and task training (to help keep him from getting bored), and with behavioral training to address the aggression.

    It's great to read about how positive your experience has been. We already love Hugo to pieces, and the impact that his issues are having on our lives has been a huge source of stress. Here's hoping it works out as well for us as it has for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ian. It is very stressful having a dog with aggression issues. Be patient. Sometimes it's 2 steps forward and one back; progress is often slow and you will probably never have a perfect laid-back social dog. It sounds like you know he needs an insane amount of exercise before training sessions, and it helps if he is un-fed so that the treats work better. You seem to be well-informed and I wish you the best of luck!

      Delete
  15. My dog will be 8 this year. She was always kind of a nervous dog, but when we moved cross country she went down hill. We lived in temporary housing, then a rental then our new house within six months. In our rental, she busted through the screen of a third floor window and jumped out. She never had separation issues before and this was while we were not home, so we may not know what set her off. Luckily she only injured one paw and is better in that sense.

    She is now on 64 mg of fluoxetine and 25mg 2x a day of amitriptyline. It seems to work okay. We can't crate her anymore because she freaked out and injured herself trying to escape. She does better around things like oven timers and such. She still freaks out if a phone vibrates on a hard surface.

    The reason I googled and came upon your blog was because last night we had windows open and the wind blew a couple doors shut. She freaked out and was shaking and trying to jump all over my head at night. She is a 40lb dog so it was not comfortable. Poor dog is going to have a heart attack with all her stress. I am thinking of going back to the vet and trying some new meds. Did you try any others before you found what worked?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow Joline, that's crazy. No, we have only tried fluoxetine. I wonder if there's something better now? This is definitely a question for your vet, and probably for a behaviorist as well.
      I suppose this is a long shot, but there may be a dog acupuncturist near you. I wouldn't discount alternative treatments.
      http://dogcare.dailypuppy.com/acupuncturist-canine-fear-anxiety-6054.html

      Delete
  16. Thanks for your posts, Kerry! My 11 y/o Staffy has just started on Prozac. I moved house earlier this year and she developed SA - scratched up the door of the rental property on the first day! I ended up moving out a month later and back to my old place, where she is ok - she's always been a clingy dog but I guess knows I always come home in this place.

    I'm moving again in a couple of weeks - I am hopeful that it will be a more positive experience for both of us! I'll have some time off and it'll just be us (and the cat) - the last attempt was a sharehouse - so the routines should stay much the same, and I should be less stressed. Hopefully the Prozac will have begun to have some effect by the time I have to go back to work.

    After some of the stories here Jovi's issues seem relatively minor, so I'm hopeful the drugs will help us have a successful move! And hopefully help with her storm anxiety too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I hope it helps. It is the drug of choice for separation anxiety. It's good that you will have time with her before leaving her alone in her new environment, and that there are established routines. If she learns to sleep in a crate, it might be helpful, but of course trying to teach that after a new move won't work. I hope it goes well for you!

      Delete
  17. Today is the first day my Henry has taken Fluoxetine. For the last 2 years his fear aggression has taken hold and even after many tries at training sessions and behavioral modification, I was not getting anywhere. Your blog gave us a lot of hope. I may start a similar blog to share our journey. Two days ago, I was thinking of giving Henry up. I can't, and I won't. Give Reub a pat or two from me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael, good luck! It is NOT an easy thing working with fear aggression. Baby steps at first. Let me know if start posting about your experiences.

      Delete
  18. Loved reading your posts. My girl had a sudden eruption of separation anxiety. The vet prescribed Fluoxetine and we're doing behavior modification. She's doing much better but always seems so tired. How long did it take for him to adjust to the pills? I want my spunky girl back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amy! It took maybe 3 months? Probably different dogs take different amounts of time to rebound, though. I hope you get your spunky girl back soon.

      Delete
  19. Hi
    It is great to read how Prozac has helped Reub. It is encouraging to me. I have a dog on leash and motorbike reactive Border Collie. She is fine playing with dogs off leash but is aggressive while on leash. She has been on 20mg Prozac since Jan 16 and this week her Vet has increased her to 30mg as our trainer said she has levelled out. I really hope increased dose will help her be more calm around dogs and motorbikes very soon. Thank you for sharing your dogs experiences. Sue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I myself do not love motorbikes...but still I guess it shouldn't cause your dog to go overboard, right? :) Border collies want to herd motor bikes, and this may be difficult to fix.
      On-leash reactivity is a difficult problem, and one for a behaviorist to help you with. It may involve going on walks with neutral dogs. Regularly! It is a slow recovery. I wish you great luck.

      Delete
  20. I'm thankful to you for the blog. I've been struggling with owner directed aggression from my Bulldog, Walter, for over a year. He became very possessive over me and is currently aggressive towards both me and my husband (much more so towards my husband). There have been multiple bites (one breaking a bone in my husband's finger and requiring stitches). His course has taken us from his Vet to a Neurologist and a Behaviorist and NC State University. He was on Clomicalm for the last 9-10 months and just switched to Prozac after the last bite. There's so much to Walt's story. And I can not just let it end. I love the little Bully and pray this med helps!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow Crystal. Looks like a big job on your hands. That's the thing about biting dogs: if they do it once they will do it again and again without major intervention. Good for you for starting the process and being serious.
      It will take some days for the drug to kick in, but with time it may help. You'll always have to be on guard. Good luck to you!

      Delete
  21. Many many thanks for your blog. I first came across it about 4 yrs ago, when we received a prescription for fluoxetine that I chose not to fill at the time. Am revisiting today, now that we are committed to the meds and a trainer after a bad bite incident this summer... would it have been averted if we had followed the original script? I'm not going to second-guess myself, we can only move onward and find inspiration in hearing that Reub continues to do well. So thank you for sharing his story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't look back; just forward. I really hope things improve! Good luck. A good trainer is invaluable; the drug is just a tool.

      Delete
  22. What did you do about the whining in the crate at night? One week in and this is a new problem! Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We exercised him a little harder in hopes it would make him more tired. But mostly had to live with the whining for a bit. His crate is not close to our bedroom, fortunately. Some people put their dog in its crate, in the back of the car, where magically they don't whine? Might be worth a try.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Kerry. It seems to be settling a bit now but it's reassuring to know that it's not unusual!

      Delete
    3. After a couple of weeks the whining stopped. He never whines in his crate now.

      Delete
  23. I appreciate you sharing your story. My 12 year old Foxhound mix was an abused stray, and her anxiety and compulsive licking have increased in the last year or so. She was prescribed Prozac by the vet, and
    It's helpful to read your experience with it.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I appreciate you sharing your story. My 12 year old Foxhound mix was an abused stray, and her anxiety and compulsive licking have increased in the last year or so. She was prescribed Prozac by the vet, and
    It's helpful to read your experience with it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I like many, have come across this blog as I research the medicine I am now giving my 3 year old dog. It is truly the last chance she has. Having killed a 1 cat, attacking another and finally attacking our small dog, despite behavior modification we were faced with a serious decision. Do we euthanize her? 1.5 hours with the vet later, we left with Prozac and xanax (to be used in emergency situations while the Prozac takes effect). Here we are on week 2 and I'm seriously doubting we made the right choice. Did you have the issues with restlessness? She doesn't seem to sleep. Getting her to eat has become a battle. She's lost 6 pounds. We had her visit the vet yesterday and said it is common and will pass. But I can not get the answer of how long? She seems more anxious, her eyes are wide (dilated pupils), she honestly seems miserable. I see where it took a few months to get your pup back to "normal ", and it gives me hope for mine. What other side effects did you experience? And would you say overall sticking to the medication was worth it in the end? Of course our lives are altered. We now have to keep ours separate from the others, unless she's muzzled. It's not a fun life for her. I'm really putting all our hope for her into a pill I put into a hot dog each morning. I'm glad your story has a happy ending and hope ours can be too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Iva. Yes for Reub it has definitely been worth it. But it hasn't been easy. The first couple of months Reub had restlessness, loss of appetite, and at times, lethargy too. But those side effects disappeared. I suppose it differs from individual to individual, but I would hope that in 8-12 weeks you would see the side effects mostly gone? There are times even now that Reub has moments of the jitters, usually in the AM (we give him his meds in the PM), but then he is fine.
      The bigger question for you is the ability of your dog to improve enough so that you don't fear for the lives of other animals. I doubt that you will ever be able to trust her completely, and you will always live with this. But if your vet advises you to give fluoxetine a try, then there must be some chance, right, that some semblance of normality can be achieved? Don't doubt that you are doing the right thing in attempting this! Good for you! Give it some time, then decide if you have a situation you can live with. If not, you must know that you gave it your best. Best of luck.

      Delete
  26. Hello: Thank you so much for your story of Reub. We recently took in a 7 year old German Wire Haired Pointer with a troubled past. He has come to us with anxieties, fears and aggression to other dogs. He has started on Prozac and we are working with a trainer. Toby is about 60 pounds. Our vet prescribed 20mg once a day, but it did not seem to be helping much. We upped him to 40 and it seems to be helping better. Do you give the capsules one in the morning, one at night...or both at the same time once a day? Jodi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jodi. We give him both pills, wrapped in a little wad of braunschweiger (liver sausage), with his evening meal. About 5 PM. We started doing this early on; it seemed to work best with his side effects at that time. Best of luck to you!

      Delete
  27. I found your blog searching for feedback from others with canine family members on Prozac. Our sweet Sadie was feral when local animal control brought her to the county humane society. She had heart worm and aggression. But her spirit shined through. Her heart worm treatment aged her and her anxiety increased. We tried training with experts and even the state police dog trainer tried to include in their 9 week boot camp. He said that her drive to please was not food or reward based. Just affection. He told us to work with her limits instead of imposing what others considered normal....walks, parks, socializing. Keeping her away from windows and putting her in a room to open the front door. So we got her a big yard with a privacy fence and a small group of family and friends and we love her. To help with summer sounds and increased foot traffic in the neighborhood, our vet started her on 20 mg Prozac. She has done well but we noticed it wasnt working as well this summer so we asked about increasing her dose and did to 40 mg. She's a few weeks in and she has decreased appetite and just seems so lethargic. I was wondering if the increase should stay

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You got great advice from the police trainer. Kudos to you for helping Sadie in so many ways! Our experience with Reub was that the lethargy wore off, and it took more than just a few weeks, so I I think you should stick with it longer. Then consult your vet. We changed from dosing in the AM to giving it to him in the PM, which helped a little. Good luck.

      Delete
  28. Thank you so much for your story. I just started my dog, a 150 lb mastiff on Prozac. She has fear aggression and so far behavior training has not worked alone. You have given me hope that one day things may be ok. Thank you for that and thank you for your story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck to you Jakki. Thanks for working with your dog, and doing everything that you can. It's no joke having a big dog with fear aggression and my fingers are crossed for you.

      Delete
  29. Thank you so much for writing this blog! I just gave Birdie her first pill today. It's so helpful to see what you and other's who have posted here have experienced. As a trainer, I often recommend people with dogs like Reub have a long talk with their vets and am thankful we have a local behaviorist to refer out to. This is a tough, tough journey and stories like yours help so very much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Crazy Dog Lady! So nice to hear these kind words from you. You're so right: dogs like ours take time and patience, and even then there are still challenges. Best of luck to you.

      Delete
  30. It's comforting to know that medication has helped so many dogs with anxiety/aggression issues. We are at the point where we feel our beloved Bella may need to take medication. She is anxious 80% of the time - there are times when we come home and she is so excited/anxious that she looks like she will jump out of her skin ... she trembles, whines, barks. She also has fear aggression of strangers who come into our home. We've had some success with training techniques from a behavioral specialist. But most recently she has attacked our other female dog, Tia (half Bella's size) who we adopted eight months ago. Bella was fine with Tia for the first six months - they played, ran in the yard together, no resource issues. Out of the blue, this past July, Bella attacked Tia with food nearby. We separate them now when eating. We thought things would be fine when food was out of the picture. Last week, Bella attacked Tia when a stranger came to our door. Then this morning, I took them both on a walk, Tia was barking and wanted to go after a squirrel - I was holding her back. Bella was excited, but somewhat subdued because she wears a halti collar. I turned to walk them in the other direction away from the squirrel and Bella attacked Tia. I was able to pry Bella's mouth off of Tia. Tia was crying/squealing ... it breaks my heart to see this happening. I have made an appt at Univ of Pennsylvania's Veternarian Behavioral Health Hospital. I am hoping we will get some answers and possibly medication to help Bella. I don't want to rehome either one, I love them both so dearly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, do see the behavioral experts at U of P. Because this shouldn't escalate any farther, for everybody's sake. You know, I can perfectly picture your situation, and I think you're doing all of the things I would try. A couple of things. When you go into your house, let Tia go in ahead of you and Bella. Feed Tia first, and obviously. Give signals to Bella that you value Tia. Bella needs lots of help right now, maybe especially for fear aggression of strangers, and you must be on top of it. Good for you, for seeking help! The drug may help, but it is only a start.

      Delete
  31. I really appreciate this blog> We have a mixed breed lhasa cocker poodle and bichon who just turned 1 named Mandy. We are experienced dog owners who have met our match in Mandy! We love her dearly, but she is smart, sneaky and compulsively eats EVERYTHING. She has eaten large polished rocks she stole from our fountain, a piece of sharp gravel that let to a surgery to remove it from her stomach at 6 months of age, dry wall, door trim, mulch, rope toys, and ANYTHING she can possibly get down her gullet. The sneakiness does not help.... we feel she must be watched and I mean WATCHED constantly when out of her playpen area that is completely Mandy-proof. THe latest episode was her eating one of those polished stones (she must have buried it somewhere, as we thought we had removed all of them long ago) and the stone was lodged in her small intestine when I took her to the vet to investigate what was wrong with her. She belongs in the Guinness book, as she was able to actually pass this stone which is the size of her paw. She is very well known at our vet clinic, and they consider her a marvel as well. We have tried everything. I walk her for miles every day, and we play vigorously with a flirt pole every night, but she never tires enough to stay out of trouble. We are at the end of our doggy owner ropes, and felt we needed prozac.... but instead we are going to try it on Mandy. Once her GI tract recovers from this latest episode, we start. Your comments and stories have given me the knowledge to stick with the plan for 4-6 weeks and see what happens. We love her dearly and worry constantly that she will make a fatal mistake when our heads are turned. Thanks for doing this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow. I am embarrassed to admit that I laughed (sorry sorry sorry), but yeah, do try the drug. Because this could be anxiety related for sure. And you know what? Sometimes, okay, lots of times, I gaze longingly at Reub's prozac. It comes from the neighborhood pharmacy and is produced for humans...sometimes I feel like I am the one who needs it. Dang it.

      Delete

Talk to me.