Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Recheck with the Veterinary Behaviorist: Behavior Logs

It seems hard to believe that Maisy has been on medication for eight months now. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that we started this journey, and at others, it feels like it was a lifetime ago. On Monday, we had Maisy's six-month recheck with her veterinary behaviorist, and once again, I must take this opportunity to highly recommend Dr. Duxbury at the University of Minnesota Behavior Department. As always, I absolutely adored working with her. She's full of great insight and is absolutely masterful at reading body language. She has tons of experience, which leaves me feeling very comfortable with her recommendations. And it doesn't hurt that I really like her.

Anyway, I have so much that I want to share about Maisy's progress, about Dr. Duxbury's reactions, and about what the future holds that this will probably take multiple posts. Today's entry will take a look at the behavior logs I kept in the past couple of weeks. (Click here to see past behavior logs.)

Usually, I keep a week or two of logs to get an idea of how Maisy is doing. Her pre-medication baseline was 3-4 anxiety episodes per day, so I was pretty excited to see how she was doing. This set of behavior logs were different, though. You see, right before I planned to start keeping the logs, Maisy ended up in the doggie ER. She then had two back-to-back appointments with a specialist, which she found incredibly stressful. I kept logs anyway knowing that they wouldn't be an accurate representation of how she's doing in general, but feeling like it was my duty. Then I remembered that I have logs from the last time she had a stressful event (five days at my parents' house at Thanksgiving), so I laid them out side by side (click the image to enlarge it):

As you can see, I have data from the day of the stressful event (in both cases, I started keeping logs in the late afternoon), as well as for the subsequent week. The initial response is the same: 3 instances of anxiety vocalizations or startles on the day of the stressful event. And, I'd say that her recovery time is about the same for both sets of data- three full days after the stressful event, although I'd definitely say there was residual stress for a couple days beyond that both times. 

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed by this. One of my goals was really for Maisy to bounce back quicker after a stressful event, and that has not happened. In fact, now I'm not sure it can happen; I don't know that it's possible to hurry stress hormones out of the body.

However, I am thrilled by how much better she's doing in handling the stress. I mean, check out that graph! The red lines are so much lower than the blue lines! Before, over the full seven-day period, she had an average of 2.86 instances of anxiety per day. Now, that's just 1.14. Before, over the three-day primary recovery period, she had an average of 4 instances per day, and now it's only 2 per day. More than that, the quality of those anxious outbursts has changed. The intensity and duration have gone way down.

So, even though these aren't exactly conventional behavior logs, they are incredibly interesting, and I'm quite happy with Maisy's progress. I absolutely love what Paxil has done for Maisy's quality of life. Of course, now the question is... did Dr. Duxbury agree that the Paxil has been helpful? Was she as impressed by the results of our logs? I'll let you know in my next post...


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I am so happy for you both!! It must be great to see her relax so much and able to handle life's stress better!

Crystal Thompson said...

I am so happy, too, Laura!! I love how much better she's doing... and wait until you see the video...

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm not sure how I haven't found your blog before! I ran across it a week ago and have been hooked checking the archives.

Looking at that behavior chart is really quite amazing! so much quicker to recover from stress which is, I think, an equally (if not more) important change than just having fewer anxiety melt-downs. One of the hard things to teach our dogs is not just NOT to react (for example) but how to have a much better bounce-back time.

Anyhow, although I just found your blog, I wanted to pass along the Versatile Blogger Award... you can read about it here http://successjustclicks.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/wow-winners-all-around/

Crystal Thompson said...

Wow, thanks, successjustclicks. I appreciate the award!

I agree- I love that behavior chart. And you know what I love more? The videos I included in today's entry. My sweet dog has changed so much for the better. :)