Thursday, January 6, 2011

Medication Update: 4 weeks at 10mg

I love Paxil.

That’s what I told Maisy’s veterinary behaviorist when I updated her on Maisy’s progress. Needless to say, the report was absolutely glowing. You guys, I love Paxil.

As a reminder, at baseline, Maisy was having an average of 3.58 incidents a day in which she barked, growled or startled at undetectable or minimal stimuli. It wasn’t uncommon for those incidents to last longer than a minute. She would trot around the house vigilantly, scanning the environment, looking for… something. After two weeks on paroxetine, that had reduced to 2.5 per day. At four weeks, it was 2.67. At six weeks, 1.33. At seven weeks, it was up again to 2. Then we increased Maisy’s dosage from 8mg to 10mg, and after two weeks, she was having an average of 2.5 incidents per day.

I took three days worth of behavior logs this week. Guess how many incidents she had. No, go on, guess. I’ll wait…Okay, are you ready?

She had one.

Not per day. One. Total. For three whole days. And the incident was pretty minor at that. I’m not entirely sure what happened, as I wasn’t in the same room with her, but I heard her bark twice. The barks were somewhere between an alert bark and a play bark, and when I went to check on her, she was sitting in the living room, wagging her tail, and looking through French door at her cat, Malcolm. Malcolm was next to the front door, and if I had to guess, he probably made some small noise that startled her. There was no vigilance. She didn’t leave the room, and the incident wasn’t long and drawn out. She just barked. And that was it. That’s all that happened in the last three days.

At Maisy’s re-check appointment a month ago, I told Dr. Duxbury that I was hoping to reduce the number of incidents from 2 to 3 per day down to 2 to 3 per week. I guess we made it.

I love Paxil.

But that’s not all the good news. For instance, Maisy continues to sleep. In fact, this weekend, I emailed my friends to ask how much their dogs sleep, because Maisy is now averaging 17 to 18 hours of sleep per day. (For the record, this was pretty much right on with what their dogs do.) Whereas she used to pace, harass the cats, or incessantly drop a tennis ball in my lab, now she tends to simply curl up next to me and snooze.

Along those same lines, the other day Maisy was doing just that, and when I got up and left the room, she didn’t follow me. This has never happened before. She has always followed me, even if I was just moving a few feet away. Not that I minded, of course, but I always felt bad that she would jump up as if startled just because I moved. I actually love that this time, she just sleepily watched me walk away.

Another first happened when my husband came home late (think 2 am) one night. Usually, this causes an explosion of barking and growling, but she didn’t make a peep that night. She woke up, and she was excited to see him, but she was quiet. (While I count this as a success, I have to admit, I never really minded that she was so loud when someone entered the house late at night.)

She’s doing great in class, too. In our shaping class on Sunday, there were two new dogs present, and Maisy was initially a bit stressed as a result. Then I realized that I had fallen back into my old habits of trying to shovel treats in her mouth as quickly as possible. When I realized what I was doing, I remembered Dr. Duxbury’s advice to take slow down when I’m working with her. Immediately, Maisy relaxed. Wow!

Tuesday night in reactive dog class, Stella, the bouvier that Maisy always reacts to, was back in class after an eight week hiatus. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but Maisy silently watched Stella from her crate, jumping up only once. Later on, she barked at Stella as she left, but she settled down pretty quickly. So, while she wasn’t perfect, she was pretty darn good!

In fact, she’s been so good that Dr. Duxbury wanted me to confirm that Maisy is still energetic and playful at appropriate times. And she is. She loves her walks, chases her ball enthusiastically, is eager to train with me, and still gets the nightly zoomies. Her personality hasn’t changed at all. She’s just more comfortable.

Have I mentioned that I love Paxil? Because I totally do.


Kristen said...

It sounds like magic! GREAT job with the behavior modification you've put in too!

Anne said...

How awesome that Maisey is a happy girl now with way less stress! I had post traumatic stress syndrome after being assaulted several years ago and my doc prescribed Paxil and it helped me immensely. And like Kristen said, kudos to you for the great training!

Robin Sallie said...

Hey! Your dog is broken! What is this thing called sleep?

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Absolutely fantastic news!!! I am so excited for you guys and I can't wait to see her continued progress!

Joanna said...

So cool!! I'm happy to hear about the amazing progress!

Jules said...

I am so glad you are seeing such a wonderful improvement in all the areas you hoped to. Good work!

Kristine said...

Awesome! I love Paxil now too. I am so happy for the both of you!

Ettel, Charlie Poodle, and Emma Pitty said...

Hi Crystal,

Charlie and I would like to thank you for coming over to give us some kind words during this rough time, it means a lot to us.

Charlie's also on meds, though he's on Clomicalm. When he was at his worst (he had/has separation anxiety), he would bark non-stop whenever I would leave the house. If I was gone for twelve hours, he would bark for twelve hours. With the meds and a LOT of training, I can now leave as often as I need to. I wish you even greater success with the meds and her training.

Crystal said...

Thanks Ettel. I hope Charlie's feeling better soon.

Katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

WOW! What a comforting and inspiring post! I am so glad she is doing so well. It gives all of us with a reactive pup hope. Thanks for sharing your story!

FYI, I know we have talked before about the walking challenge and walking challenge 2011 is posted now and going, if you want to check it out. We would be honored to have you and maisy join us!