Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Behavior Modification

While the meds are definitely helping Langley that doesn't mean that we don't have to do any behavior modification work with him.  Drugs are helping to control his anxiety but now that he is calmer, we needed to develop a training regimen that will teach Langley the skills to be a more centered, relaxed dog.  To do this trainer Blair Meek came to visit Langley in our home, see him in action and assess him.

Her input has been a great help to us and Langley and we now have a training plan that includes lots of games and training exercises. His main issues are the OCD and that he has almost no impulse control.  When left to his own devices he gets anxious, runs around feeding his compulsions, and when that doesn't lesson his anxiety, it gets worse and he continues to ramp up.

To help him keep this anxiety under control Langley needs a lot of structure and then he needs to learn some impulse control.  Blair gave us quite a few exercises to work on to develop this skill and since Langley is such a smart boy and is very food motivated he has quickly picked up these exercises and now I'm working to increase their difficulty.

It's a lot of work for a young dog but Langley actually is really enjoying this training as it give him something to focus on and he's better able to connect with people, which also helps him feel more relaxed. And some of this structured time isn't training - it's things like playing with puzzle toys, working to get his food out of a frozen Kong or chewing on a bully stick in his crate.

The happy news is this Behavior Modification work has relaxed Langley to the point that he no longer is needing the tranquilizers and extra short acting anxiety meds in addition to the fluoxetine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Rattitude's Auction: Shopping you can feel good about

Hot Dog! Cool Summer Auction!New Rattitude's Third Annual Online Auction Is Underway!! 
Why should you be shopping this auction? First, because there are some smokin' hot deals there for both human and dog stuff.  But second and most importantly, the stories of rescue that you read about here in this blog have a cost: shelter pull fees, vet visits, spays and neuters, vaccinations... And then there are emergency situations like Langley's been dealing with that require the expenses of blood tests, extra vet visits, medication expenses, etcetera. We work hard to get the most for our money but as you all know, a trip to the vet can quickly add up and fundraisers like this fun auction are what help New Rattitude pay those bills.
Langley says, "what are you waiting for? Get your bids in!"
So there's just one week left of the auction.....have you got your bids in?

Here’s How:

2. Look through all the categories and find the item(s) you’'d like to bid on.

3. Submit your bid via email to fundraising@newrattitude.org.

4. When bidding please include your first and last name, the number and description of the item(s) you're bidding on, and the amount of your bid.

5. Bid as many times as you'd like - there are no limits!


Have fun and happy bidding. Thanks to your participation in this fundraisers, we can keep saving dogs!

Just say yes....to drugs

I have always been one to push for using natural remedies when at all possible but Langley was sure a lesson to me that sometimes something different is needed for a dog to get to a place where they have a tolerable existence.

I still think that most behavior issues that dogs have come from not enough consistency, time, attention and exercise from their humans and I put the blame in the human's court.  But just like us humans, dogs deal with mental illnesses as well and medication can take said pooches from an unbearable existence to a place where life is happy and normal.

Since Langley's been on fluoxetine (name brand Prozac) he has gradually come back to a place where life is normal.  As I type this he is snoozing in a dog bed with his favorite tug toy.  I have not had to tether him to me in the house at all for the last few days and he no longer feels the need to smash into the windows and sliding doors repeatedly to feed his compulsions. 

Langley, just waking up from a long snooze in his favorite dog bed.

He is now able to be leashed to me in the back yard when he needs a bathroom break and can disengage enough from his compulsions now to be able to eliminate outside. This of course makes me ecstatic since it means we are on our way to a housetrained dog again. When I crouch down to tell him what a good boy he is afterward he pees he can look away from the bird filled shrubs and put his paws on my knees and give me kisses while I give him lots of attention and pets.  And when it is time to go back inside he doesn't need to be dragged inside as he frantically scrambles and barks, he does his little doggy shrug, and then trots back inside with me for some fun wrestling and tug games.

We still have a ways to go. I've been able to take him off of the Xanax and the Ace Promezine has come down from 10mg, 3 times a day, to 5mg two times daily.  The fluoxetine levels are still being adjusted but I'm happy to say that Langley is approaching the status of a normal, high energy, loveable goofball of a dog and I think I'm going to need to start thinking about writing his Petfinder bio once this last med adjustment kicks in because he's officially an adoptable guy again.  I'm not saying he's perfect. I mean, he IS a terrier after all. But for someone with a big fenced yard and a willingness to work with an energetic but super people focused dog, he would make a great family member.

Monday, August 6, 2012


When Langley had his breakdown, at first even combinations of tranquilizers and anti-anxiety meds at their full dose didn't touch his panic, but happily, the SSRI medication the vet prescribed is starting to build up in his system and we are seeing a change.  The first change is that the tranq/Xanax combo actually mellows him out now.  Of course, we are working towards a point when we can take him off the extra meds, but for the next couple of weeks he'll need them and we are super happy they are making his life bearable.

He is now able to engage with us and can follow cues for the tricks he's learned.  He even enjoys short games of tug and the occasional wobbly game of fetch.  While he still needs distraction to not obsess about hunting for... well, anything, he is coming along and making progress.
Langley, hanging out on his foster mom's lap
Soon I'll be heading out of state for awhile and New Rattitude foster parents Karrah and Eric have been kind enough to dogsit our guy.  I'm actually thinking he'll do great in another home as our place has become one big OCD trigger and that's a struggle for him.  So wish him luck and we'll report  back in a couple weeks about how his big adventure went.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Toys Galore

I've discovered that it is in the kitchen where there is just one high window and a distant view of the sliding door that Langley is most easily able to be engaged. However, he does like to pace and "hunt" in there along the baseboards so I don't want to use the kitchen so much with him that it becomes another room where he gets lost in his compulsions.  To do this I think we are going to try to use the kitchen with him only for practice with engaging with people and toys.

To help with this task, I met with a good friend last night who drove down with a sack full of puzzle toys.  Since Langley is so food motivated, this kind of toy will really distract him and having a big variety will allow me to keep mixing it up so things are always new and interesting.  Wish us luck.
Langley, playing with the Moon Rover Rescue ball
Today I'll also be heading back to work so it will be good to have some new and interesting things to keep him busy during the longer stretch of crate time.  In this photo he's playing with the a rubber ball that you have to pull other toys out of.  It comes with a squarish squeaky dog toy inside of it but to make it easier you can fill it up with a bunch of other toys to make it a little easier.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

On his way back home

It is with great joy that I can share that Langley seems to be on his way back from the brink. After 5 days of total disconnect with his surrounding and reality he played tug with me for about 30 seconds last night, and then actually threw me a "sit" when I wasn't letting him have his way to jump the gate and kept blocking him.  This was huge because rather than a toy interaction this was him communicating to me that "hey, look, I'm being calm.  Can I have my way now?" This is something I taught him when he first got here and that he was quite good at before his breakdown.  So he was reaching out with something he knew I responded to - dog to human communication. YES!!!!

After that we played tug for a bit and then he even responded to cues for "sit" and "down" for treats.  Then  he slept through the night.  A first in about 2 weeks.  And best was he didn't wake up in that frenzied anxiety that I have gotten used to seeing.  He was circling a bit and whining but not panicked. 

Langley, intent on his Kong while lying next to the sliding door
He had his Ace-promezine and fluoxetine before breakfast since he has a few physical injuries from the last few days and I need to keep him safe, but we skipped the Xanax this morning since he didn't seem as anxious and wasn't trying to escape the kitchen to get to the door.  After breakfast he was crated while I met with a friend for a few hours. 

When I came back I had lunch and during that time he actually tried to engage Frodo in play.  Frodo was having none of it and Langley, as per usual didn't listen to Frodo and I had to intervene, but still, progress! 

Then the most exciting thing - I decided to take him in the living room and drop his leash and see what he would do.  Of course he first went to the sliding door, however, when I offered him the half finished Kong out of his crate he turned away from the door, lay down, and started working on his Kong!  He was lying there working on it for about 3 minutes before he remembered that the door was there and got up to go look outside.

So while for most dogs these are tiny little everyday things, when a dog has been in a pretty much psychotic breakdown for 5 days, for this to all happen just 12 hours from very abnormal behavior is epic.

He may still have a long road ahead of him to get back to "normal" I feel like there is hope now.  The first step was to break through the anxiety and find our Langley, and that has now happened.  Next step is I'm borrowing a bunch of different puzzle toys to use with him since food is and always has been a huge motivator for him.  The goal is to have new and exciting fun things so I can keep him distracted from the compulsions as much as possible so his brain can continue to reset and the meds can do their work.

Blood, shit, tears and a garbage strike

When I got home from grocery shopping at 3pm yesterday Langley was pretty calm so I decided to take him back to the vet's to retry getting blood for the tests.  We wanted to try to rule out some physical diseases that might be a culprit.  It was a long shot since he is otherwise so completely healthy but we wanted to cover all the bases.

The vet let him down in the exam room and watched him pace and move and sniff frantically at every crevice and cranny. After watching him a bit her eyes were open wide and all she said was "Wow!" before regaining her composure.  "Wow!" is rarely a great thing to hear at the vets office. Temperature was taken and was normal.  Everything keeps checking out but that little brain of his. We'll get the full results of the blood test today sometime.

Since he's become pretty dog reactive during this breakdown I rushed him out of the office to his crate in the car and went back inside to pay the bill.  When I opened the driver's door to leave a wall of stench hit me.  Langley had a stress poop in the 400 series crate I had wedged into the back seat and then had paced through it and scraped it all over the inside. 

I was either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid but I decided that the 25 minute drive home would be easier if I got the bulk of the poop at the front of the crate out before the drive. Let me just give you a word of advice.  If you have a fully manic, covered in crap, 20 pound terrier locked in a crate do not choose to open the door while the crate is in the back seat of your car and you are in a parking lot.  With a crazed look in his eyes Langley punched off the back wall of the crate like an Olympic swimmer, straight at me.  I hooked his collar and held him in the crate with one hand as I attempted to use paper towels to grab at the stinky blobs inside. His legs flailed as he tried to reach me, poopy pads contacted face, hair, arms, clothing, car upholstery...

I wiped the poop and tears off of my face and hands, and got out my cell phone to call home.  "Hunter, there's been an epic poop disaster in the car!  Get things ready for a dog bath and an outdoor crate spray down."  Only the child of a dog rescuer would be able to translate this into having all the tools for the clean up ready when I got home.  When I got home, Hunter and Jordan opened doors for me and then stepped far, far away as Langley and I slowly made our way, crate and all, upstairs to the bathroom.

After he was all clean and sweet smelling he was put in a clean crate downstairs (barking crazily in protest) while Hunter and I went outside with the crate.  The blankets and chew inside were put in a garbage bag and taken to the garage. Then the crate was power blasted with the hose and finally carefully cleaned and sanitized and left to dry in the sun.

This is the 2nd crate poop disaster we've had in two days. Sadly the trash collectors are on strike here and now along with my already full garbage can I have 2 bags full of the poopy remnants of this week in my garage. I don't want to put it outside as the crows will come and tear them open. However, I may need to come up with something different as the poop fumes in the garage have now reached a level that surely must be toxic. 

I now find the whole adventure quite humorous.  This means that either I am tougher than I thought or I have crossed over the line and am full on as crazy as Langley at this point.  I'm telling my self it's the former.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Langley's fight

I am trying my best these days to remember the Langley who was first with us, the goofy smiling boy who loved rolling in the grass, belly rubs, rattie runs, and always seemed to have a grin on his face.
Over the last month and then dramatically so these last few days, Langley has descended into an obsessive-compulsive hell to the point that he is no longer able to function.  His compulsion is to hunt outside (and now in). When off leash he can focus on nothing but pacing and sniffing, frantic to find what he's searching for.  To control this I try to keep him on leash at all times but now all he does is lunge for the area of the yard where he knows the birds like.  He struggles and becomes so overworked outside that he can't disengage at all, even enough to go to the bathroom.
When inside he can't be off leash because he will repeatedly lunge at the sliding glass door to get outside.  All windows in our house are kept covered to try to not get him additionally worked up and music is playing at all times to cover any sounds of birds outside.

In the last couple of days he can't even be on leash. The only thing that seems to give him rest from the anxiety is to be held and bounced.  For hours we bounce around the house, me trying to relearn how to do everything one handed like I was an expert at when my son was an infant. Doing this with a squirming 18# dog in your arms is not easy though.

We have tried both natural things and medicines.  Thundershirts and swaddling, classical music, DAP diffuser next to the crate, Xanax and Valium and Prozac is now being started.  Ace-promezine had to be added so he wouldn't injure himself when crated and I was out of the room.  The meds don't seem to touch the anxiety, and even the Ace, meant to slow down his physical frenzy (Ace does nothing for anxiety so don't let your vet tell you it's a treatment for an anxious dog) only works minimally.

This is the heartbreaking side of rescue: when you do everything you can, give your all to make a dog feel better and your all just isn't enough to stop the suffering.  All we can do now is send healing thoughts to Langley and hope that the fluoxetine (Prozac) ramps up in his system quickly and makes a difference for him.