Sunday, April 10, 2011

Medication Update: 6 months

Maisy has now been on medication for six months- long enough that some days I take it for granted. In many ways, I've gotten used to the New Maisy. The simple act of sleeping no longer astonishes me the way it once did, and even her new found bravery seems less remarkable. For example, this morning in shaping class, she went over a full-height dogwalk. Then she turned around and did it again. And again. And again. She was careful, but she was somehow confident in her caution. To me, this seemed almost normal. To our trainer, it was nothing short of amazing.

I took behavior logs again last week. Maisy was, to be honest, a bit edgier around the house than usual; in two days she had three incidents... if you can call them that. Is it fair to call a soft “wuffing” noise an incident?

The first was probably the worst: She was lounging in the kitchen. I'm not sure what she heard, but she suddenly came trotting into the living room towards the front door, making a series of small wuffs. The whole thing lasted maybe 30 seconds.

The second was quite remarkable: We were both in the living room, and there was a banging noise coming from the back door. She stood, wuffed once, took a few steps towards the noise, and then stopped and looked at me! Instead of flying out of the room, roo-roo-rooing like she would have in the past, she just looked to me for guidance, and when I told her it was fine, she laid back down. Wow. Just... wow.

The last was almost nothing: My husband came home, and when Maisy heard the door open, she looked up, uttered a single wuff, and then fell silent.

All three of these incidents truly demonstrate how much she's changed. She isn't barking and growling and pacing for minutes on end anymore. She's just making barely audible vocalizations; hardly anything to be concerned about. In fact, I imagine they are quite normal. Dogs do bark after all.

What's more telling, though, is the stimuli that she isn't reacting to. Over the past week, spring has really, truly come to Minnesota, and with it, people are spending time outside. I've heard kids shrieking and laughing outside our windows. I've heard dirt bikes racing up and down our alley. I've heard laughter and music and parties. And Maisy has heard it, too. But she isn't overreacting to it. She barely seems to notice it.

Despite everything, I'm still moving slowly with her. There is no need to rush back into competition. I was telling a friend yesterday that I don't plan to be back in the rally ring for another year. Could she do it sooner? Probably. She could probably enter and do well in the trial next weekend. But this new-found sanity of ours is still tentative. It's solid enough that I sometimes forget what she was like, but it's not solid enough that I don't worry it could all be lost.

So, while I don't want to forget how far she's come, neither do I want to dwell on it. Instead, I want to focus on who she is now. Yes, Maisy has made tremendous improvements. No, she's not the same dog. And that's great- it truly is- but it doesn't tell me who she's becoming. I want to take the time to learn her new limits for stress, her new coping skills, her new bounce-back time. I want to know her as she is now, not in context of how she was, but in context of where we're going. Although I have no idea where that might be, I'm looking forward to making that journey with her, wherever it leads us, because in the end, we'll be together.

And that's all that I've ever wanted.


andrea said...

I'm glad you recognize a wuff is not problematic :) I expect my dogs to warn me of danger - or odd sounds - they take their jobs seriously :)

Crystal said...

I only count the wuffs because I counted them in the original set of behavior logs way back when. I try to be consistent. :)

Some of her vocalizations are (and always have been) pretty understandable: barking when someone screams outside is okay. Growling when my husband comes home at 2am is welcome. But freaking out because I shuffled some papers or set a glass down too loudly? Thankfully, the medication has gotten rid of the anxiety stuff, and the rest we don't sweat.

Ninso said...

Yay!!!! It's awesome that she's doing so well! The new-ness of spring has got Jun back to some of her anxiety, but she's working through it nicely. It is tough to have more people and dogs walking by the yard though--more vigilance and management on my part.

Robin Sallie said...

Yes, amazed I was. She has come a long, long way.

Dawn said...

We dont want to rush you, but we do want to see you achieve the things you have wanted for so long. As well as we (me and the corgis) want you to be at trials cuz your fun.

Crystal said...

Dawn- I'll be at the trials either way!! I love stewarding. :)

poodleandpitbull said...

Aw I'm so happy to hear this! With Emma's newfound reactivity we're in a new boat together and I'm so happy to hear about Maisy's progress. Both of my dogs woof and from your description she's actually quieter than Charlie, so yippee for Maisy! I think taking it slow is an excellent plan.

Crystal said...

Maisy's always been a fairly quiet dog. It's diminished, sure, but I wouldn't say that her vocalizations were ever the problem in themselves. Rather, it was the length the lasted, the way she'd trot around the house looking for the sound, the way she'd scan the environment, the way it interfered with her ability to sleep or rest.