Thursday, July 5, 2012

Follow Up with the Veterinary Behaviorist

A few weeks ago, Maisy had a follow up appointment with our veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Margaret Duxbury. I almost forgot to post about it because it was a pretty anticlimactic visit. Unlike past visits, where I've come armed with logs and graphs and charts and videos, I didn't have much to show her. Maisy is... well, pretty much normal.

I brought two videos as proof of her normalcy. The first is of her playing with other dogs. Maisy loves the little white and brown dog, and plays with her often, but while she has met the Aussie before, they've never played together.

The second video made Dr. Duxbury incredibly happy. The video looks like nothing- it's just the three of them lying around- and it's that nothingness that makes it so wonderful. Those of you have followed Maisy and I since the beginning know that this ability to relax was nonexistent only two years ago.

We chatted for a bit during the appointment, and as we did, Maisy simply laid down at my feet. Again, that sounds like nothing, but it's such a huge deal for a dog who was constantly restless and hypervigilant. (Here's a link to the before and after videos I posted last year.)

At the end of the appointment, Dr. Duxbury gave me a choice: I could either transfer Maisy's care back to our primary vet, or I could choose to do annual visits with her. I chose annual visits. I'd like to maintain the relationship we have in case things deteriorate in the future.

It's been twenty months since we first met Dr. Duxbury, and I am really just so happy that we did. Like she said, Maisy was the ideal candidate for medication, and she has responded beautifully to treatment. I will always be incredibly grateful to Dr. Duxbury for her kindness, her compassion, and her expertise. It has made such a difference in both Maisy's life and my own.


andrea said...


what a great report- so happy you thought to share it

huge congratulations to you both!

Anonymous said...

Those videos nearly brought me to tears (of happiness). I don't hold out much hope that we'll ever progress that much. I'm so happy for you and Maisy, and Dr. Duxbury rocks!

Anonymous said...

Sorry - that posting was Nicky! Forgot to sign :)

Sara Reusche said...

That little brown & white dog Maisy's playing with is just adorable.

Jen and Zainey said...

Totally awesome! You and Maisy continue to be our inspiration!

Anonymous said...

What wonderful news! Glad everything is going so well!

I'm just curious (as someone who started down the behaviorist and medication path 4 months ago) what are your long term plans for medication? Is this something you plan to do for life, or just under "better" for a long period?

We aren't perfect yet, but the difference in my dog has been nothing short of amazing. I love your blog!

Crystal Thompson said...

Hi Anonymous,

My long-term plans for the medication are, well, long-term. About a year ago, we discussed the possibility of weaning Maisy off the meds. Some dogs can do that quite successfully. I don't plan to take Maisy off the meds unless her health necessitates it.

Mostly, I just don't want to mess with a good thing. There are risks both ways: staying on the meds, we risk future unknown health issues (there really aren't studies on it, so it really is unknown. I assume liver issues would be a possibility?). Going off them, we risk a relapse. Since her bloodwork keeps coming back good, she's otherwise mostly healthy, and since I would personally find a relapse psychologically devastating (for me), we'll stay on them for now.

I know this might mean she dies younger than she would have otherwise, but ultimately, I've decided that I'd rather have fewer years with her but have those years be high quality than to have more years with low quality.

Then again, her life span may not be impacted at all, or perhaps even positively. Science has shown that the long-term effects of chronic stress can be devastating on the body.

All of life is a risk. I'm taking the one I'm most comfortable with.

Good luck to you and your dog!

Katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

I'm so happy for you and I must admit, just a bit jealous. I hope one day Maizey and I get to this point. I don't know if we ever will, but I still hope. Congratulations on your normal little dog!!

Chris and Mike said...

Ditto - what an inspiration! So glad you've been sharing this journey.

For Anonymous #1 (Nicky?): Habi and I have been working for four years on her issues, and this year we've seen huge progress (loose-leash walks!!!!! enjoying the car!!!! not yet dealing well with other dogs...) Hang in there!

For Anonymous #2: We weaned Habi off Prozac after a year, and put her back on it again two years later. Per our behavioral vet, she's probably unable to produce sufficient serotonin on her own, so the drug brings her closer to normal levels. I expect she'll be on it forever. Despite resisting drugs in general, and long-term drug use in particular, for us it's the right choice. I agree with Crystal's philosphy: quality of life is paramount.

Crystal Thompson said...

Chris and Mike-

When Habi went back on the Prozac, was it at the same dosage? With people, I sometimes see them needing higher doses after having been weaned off for a period of time.