Thursday, July 7, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

As the owner of a high-energy dog, I have often longed wistfully for something a bit quieter. I have specifically envied my friend Elizabeth, who has a greyhound. For those of you who foolishly believe that as ex-racing dogs, greyhounds must be impossible to live with, let me reassure you: they take retirement very seriously. If a surface is horizontal, a greyound will lie on it. Which, of course, makes Elizabeth's greyhound Beckett seem perfect to me and my fellow crazy-dog-owning friends.

That said, this weekend, when we tried out clonidine as our new short-acting "event" drug, I realized that I sort of prefer a crazy dog over a more mild-mannered one.

Ahhh, that's much better.

Maisy has had some mixed responses to medication. Paroxetine has been a wonder-drug for her, but her experience with trazodone was awful. So, I was nervous when I gave her half of a 0.1 mg tab of clonidine last Saturday. I shouldn't have been- I didn't really see much of a difference in her demeanor.

Still, it was a pretty low-key day to go with a pretty low dose, so the next day we tried a full one. We also happened to be going to a BBQ with dog-friends, and they all commented that Maisy seemed more subdued than usual. She wasn't lethargic, they said, just a bit slower.

I should have been thrilled. I've been saying for years that I want a quieter dog, but to be honest, it wasn't quite as awesome as I'd hoped. I missed Maisy's flitting about, her obnoxious begging, and her quirky antics. While the paroxetine seems to filter out the "static," the clonidine just turns the volume down entirely.

When I shared that with Dr. Duxbury, she replied that she understood completely. While she felt the response was favorable, she recommended only using it for high-anxiety situations. I can use it up to twice a day, but if I need to use it for several days in a row, it's best to taper it off. For example, at the end of the month, Maisy will be staying at a boarding kennel for four days. Once I return, I will give her half doses twice a day for two to three days, and then once a day for a few more days after that. I foresee a very boring week...

While the medication will be helpful for situations like boarding or emergency vet visits, I know I won't be using it regularly, nor for things like trials. I just don't like the quiet Maisy. I'd much rather have my enthusiastic, outgoing, crazy dog. So, be careful what you wish for, guys- you might find that you've been wrong!


Raegan said...

I totally get it. For me, it's sort of the difference between temperament vs. personality. Gatsby /oozes/ personality. He has woo. People meet Gatsby and they adore him. But his temperament is crap. High-strung, reactive, poor nerves. He's hard to live with.

Marsh has an extremely nice temperament and is pretty close to my "ideal." And while I love the guy and that's all that really matters, Mr. Personality he is not. He comes off as dull to strangers.

Crystal Thompson said...

Interesting Raegan- Maisy is also one of those personality-oozers. I wonder if there's some weird correlation there?

Nat said...

I would miss my crazy girl Mika too!

Hmm, as with Raegan's dogs, my reactive schnauzer Mika has a much more energetic personality than my calm-mannered Wall-e (who is not dog-reactive). I've also heard/experienced that there is a higher percentage of reactivity in the dog sport world than in the general dog population. It's likely that with high-energy comes a greater chance of high-reactivity.

Crystal Thompson said...

I believe that Nat. I've also heard that reactive dogs tend to be "smarter" on the whole.

andrea said...

I like drivey bouncy dogs too - I wonder ssometimes if Sally is too much - then I realize how much I'd miss it if she was in any way turned down or off