Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Attitude Adjustment

So, here's the story  now that I have the energy to tell it.

Mr. Dickens has developed a problem after his surgery.  He's developed an anxiety problem.  One that I can attribute to his being too immature to have the surgery or it had been lying beneath the surface only to manifest itself after the surgery.  The problem may also be a dominance-aggression issue or something to do with his adolescence that crop up in dogs.  It's a chicken-egg quandry that I'm facing head-on.

He's not an aggressive dog in the true curled lip, teeth baring ilk one sees on TV.  Most of the time he's a gentleman, but something disconnects.  I've noticed it and his trainer validated my observations last Sunday.  So, off to the vet we go.

Now usually Dickens turns on the charm when he hits the waiting room.  One of those "I don't know why she brought me here, I'm just a puppy" smiles.  Not this time.  This time he decided to dump a load in the middle of the waiting room (after having just gone) and launched into a fit of barking, et al.  We were immediately invited into a secluded room.  He paced, whined, and made nail-biting look like a leisure sport.

The vet tech entered, took the information, and didn't need to be convinced that Dickens indeed had a problem.  The vet, who witnessed his fit in the waiting room, didn't waste any time taking blood work and accepting the morning's "deposit" for parasitic testing.  She gave me lots of information, including a phone number for Tufts Small Animal Hospital.  Tufts has a great reputation for animal care and Dr. Nicholas Dodman has written many books on canine behavior.

Yesterday, the vet called with the test results.  All A-OK.  Now we work on behavior with a little help from a calmer-downer.  I balked at the notion of medicating Dickens.  I believed he could be "trained" out of it, but as I thought long and hard leaving this unchecked could result in internal damage as his blood pressure red-lines when he gets anxious.  He can get anxious quite a bit.

My mother has been a rock for me through this situation.  She speaks to Dickens each evening (separated by a baby gate).  She says "this too shall pass." We believe Dickens can grow out of this anxious state.  She longs for the day when she can hold him.  I think these two have a future together. 

So, we'll continue to train, continue to exercise, continue to grow and continue the medication, but I'm beginning to think that Mom's chats with him might be the best medicine of all.   

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