Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Just call her...

…a handful? A problem?

I haven’t posted much about my new girl, Jacey-Kasey. I posted about the pantry raid: I could make that one sound funny. But there hasn’t been much fun or funny in her first 18 days here. I’ve never once slipped and called her, “Oreo.” Every day, in every way, she makes it clear she’s not Oreo.

I tried leaving Jacey muzzled, but free to roam the house. That produced some house-breaking issues (complicated by my long work hours—and really not her fault). And it also meant she had the opportunity to teach Sam about pantry shelves. (I swear, he’s following her around the house, watching what she does, and saying, “Wow! I never noticed that stuff up there! This is cool!” He’s like a not-too-sharp crime boss who’s just learned he’s got a super-smart underling: he likes the new dog’s ideas, but wants to ensure he gets the biggest share of the loot.)

We’re countering the housebreaking issues: lots of trips outside, with kibble in my pocket on every trip. Anyone who pees or poops gets kibble. Sam is making an art-form of this: pee a bit, get a treat, pee a bit more, get another treat. Meanwhile, Jacey is standing there, wondering why she isn’t getting any kibble. She hasn’t made the connection to food-as-a-reward. Once that sinks in, she’ll be much easier to train. (She thinks food shows up when it shows up—or when she raids the pantry.)

But after the pantry raid, I crated Jacey while I was at work. After all, she’s an ex-racer, used to being confined in a small area. The crate is 48Lx30Wx36H—plenty large enough for her—and set up in my bedroom upstairs. The first day, she had a blanket, a water dish, and a puppy pad in the crate. (A puppy pad is the equivalent of a disposable diaper/nappy: absorbent paper material with a plastic backing. Sam pees on a pad when my work day is too long and his water intake has been too high. Oreo never used the things. And Jacey…) Jacey had, literally, a shit-fit. She pounded it into the plastic tray of the crate, she embedded it in the blanket, she kicked some of it out of the crate (where Sam stepped in it, then scratched an itch…), and she rolled in it. When I got home from work, I spent more than an hour bathing her and Sam and cleaning the crate. Then I sat and cried. (I wanted Oreo back. Oreo was never that kind of trouble…)

That work day had been a long one, and I’d been gone from home for about 13 hours. Pooping or peeing in the crate in those circumstances is not unexpected. But the frenzied aspect of her behavior worried me.

I had a D.A.P.—dog appeasing pheromone—in a device you plug into an electrical socket. It mimics the pheromone produced by lactating bitches, and is supposed to be very comforting (effective in 75% of cases). I plugged it in in the bedroom, then went downstairs with the dogs. Humans can’t smell the pheromone, and Sam was completely uninterested. But Jacey reacted when the scent drifted down to us, and went upstairs to find that nursing mama dog. And it seemed to help—some—the next day. But I also worked a shorter workday—home in 9.5 hours—and that made a difference. Jacey didn’t have a blanket (no more blankets—the first one went in the trash), and she completely shredded the puppy pad (I’ve seen confetti pieces that were bigger), but no poop. She still was frenzied when I got home, whining, clawing frantically at the crate, and I don’t know how long that sort of behavior had gone on—too long, judging by the state of her feet. (Oh, and she had a durable Nylabone to chew on.)

Day 3 in the crate: another shredded puppy pad. And a neighbor out walking his dog heard Jacey whining and fussing and thought she might have been reacting to hearing him. I think a big problem is that Sam is not staying upstairs with Jacey—there’s no way I can barricade him in the room to make him stay (it’s a loft bedroom, no door, and only a 3-foot wall on one side, overlooking the living room; I can’t trust my idiot boy not to try to jump the wall if he wants out, because he has no way to see how far he’d fall). So Jacey is suffering from separation anxiety because I’m not there and because Sam is out of her sight.

Day 4 in the crate: I left a thunder-and-rain CD playing all day in hopes of drowning out external noises, so she’d sleep more. (The CD plays all night while we sleep, so she’s used to hearing that sound and isn’t alarmed by it.) I didn’t leave a puppy pad, this time. And I came home to a frenzied yellow-and-black dog. Another bath was required. (And Sam, who ran into her, needed a bath, too.)

So today I went to the vet. He agreed that she’s exhibiting classic separation anxiety symptoms, and they need to be treated before she hurts herself—and before she “trains” herself to panic every time she’s in the crate. So she’s on diazepam (one or two 10mg tablets, three times a day) and clomipramine (one 50mg capsule, two or three times a day). The diazepam (aka Valium) stops after a month or so (we hope); the clomipramine (aka Clomicalm) goes on for three months, at which time we do a liver test and consider weaning her off the drug if that seems feasible. (This is going to cost $3.25-$5.50 a day, depending on how much she needs…and I’m getting the drugs from a standard pharmacist, not the vet’s overpriced supply.) The hope is that after three months she’ll have learned that mom leaves, mom comes home, Sam wanders around, and the world doesn’t come to an end. (Oh, and the vet warned that diazepam is a mood-altering device—and sometimes you don’t get the mood you want. So there’s a risk she’ll pull an Edward Hyde-number.)

Thursday I work a noon to nine shift. I do not want to have to bathe a dog (or two) at 9:30 at night, so I’m hoping for the best.

If the drugs don’t work, we have other options. One possibility is moving the crate downstairs. This is not a good choice since the air conditioner downstairs is broken; the one upstairs works, and once Sam figures that out, he might stay upstairs more. But even if I move the crate, there’s no guarantee that Sam will stay in her sight. And even if he does, she’s still expressing anxiety when I’m out of her sight. So I’m really hoping the drugs can get this under control.

Meanwhile, I’ve got this dog with the most enormous pupils right now. {grin} Just call her spacey Jacey-Kasey…

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