Smith Ridge Veterinary 3 Hour Trip!

As you all know Oreo was having BIG problems with allergies. She started acting weird too! She had a panic attack at reactive class when my husband disappeared. She also screamed and pulled me all the way to my sister’s car when she came to visit. I usually know she’s very sick when she is laying on me or near me all the time, which has been going on. So, I decided to try something different.

Marty Goldstein is famous for doing holistic medicine with lots of supplements. He has a book entitled, “The Nature of Animal Healing.” This book was recommended by Oreo’s trainer. She told me to read it and if I was interested, seeing him might be worth a try. Goldstein believes that dogs and cats can heal themselves. They discuss how vaccines are very hurtful, especially to dogs that have bad immune systems or are fighting allergies. Many times dogs are prescribed antihistamines (Benadryl etc) or given steroid shots to treat the symptoms. Unfortunately, it doesn’t treat the problem and get to the root of the problem.

Oreo has had behavior problems, repeated bacterial ear and stomach infections, skin infections, and yeast infections. She was so miserable she would itch around her eyes all day and rub them against the couch, floor, or anything she could find. She was miserable. She was sleeping all day and seemed depressed and irritable. Her behavior was more anxious and upset.

So I decided to take off a day and drive her all the way up to the Smith Ridge Veterinary Center. My mom volunteered to take the trip with me. The drive was almost 3 hours and was surprisingly nice. We went all the way to the edge of Connecticut and New York. Trees were copious on our ride and gigantic mansions surrounded the town of South Salem New York. We stopped and had sandwiches at a park.

We arrived to find the vet center off to the side of a shopping center. I arrived to find homey waiting room and a wonderful receptionist. I was VERY concerned about getting her in and out of the center without seeing other dogs. I also did NOT want her to be in the room with me when I was discussing issues with the vet. If she waits in that room she will usually hide and shake under the chairs and snap if the vets come near her because she is so afraid.

However, they insisted. The room had a nice bed for the dog and a bench for us to sit on. Oreo went in and laid under the bench while I gave her a kong full of treats. I think I was more nervous than her, which I am sure rubbed off on her.  Anyways, when someone would come in the SMALL room she would get up alert, bark, and even growl. The vet was very nice and gave her lots of treats. Then Oreo would return under the bench. She would STARE at the vet and then start growling or come out a little. She was torn I think-couldn’t decided if the vet would prick her with needles or give her treats. It wasn’t like her to growl like that, but the place was strange, so were all the people.

We discussed how vaccines are bad, her behavior and allergies. The vet did a round of blood tests and an allergy test. Yay!! We will FINALLY learn exactly what she is allergic to! This will take 2-3 weeks to get results, but I have been staying away from chicken since that is the number one allergy for dogs. I have found that since I took her off the chicken her itching has decreased 60% which leads me to believe I was making her sick by giving her chicken! That is also what I fed her at training-yikes!

The vet had us leave the room so they could do all the tests in the room. In the back they have too many dogs back there so she would be too anxious. They said she was very good and a vet tech even came back to give her a treat! Excepttttt she came in and scared Oreo then came close and bent over. Oreo didn’t like that, but later happily accepted a treat from her.

I have a few supplements for Oreo and also a natural steroid just for 2 weeks to calm her eye irritation down. We are working on building her immune system so eventually we can start taking some supplements away.  However, the vet didn’t want to recommend too many supplements until we find out what she is allergic to (so that means maybe more?).  Right now she gets a calming supplement, and immune system/cleansing supplement, and probiotics. I have been cooking turkey meatloaf for her with brocoli and ordered a calcium supplement.

Her behavior hasn’t been as strange, although she still seems more anxious than normal. At the park a bug startled her and birds flying out of trees scared her badly. The other day I moved a blanket on the bed and she got up looking around in a panic and started growling. Perhaps she was sleeping, but still-that’s not normal for her. However, she has been much more active lately and wants to play. Additionally, I have been taking her to the park instead of walking around the dog filled neighborhood. She has been happy as can be at the park and pulling (which is much better than her geriatric walking she was doing lately-and she’s only 2!).  Her itching has improved and the area around her eyes are starting to get better. I’m not sure if it’s the supplements, walking in the park, home cooked meals, or not eating chicken, but everything seems to be helping!

I am sad to have her stop reactive training, but right now we need to work on her health. I do think she was almost done with reactive training and we would move on to something else. I couldn’t think of activities to improve on with other dogs or people since she loved everyone there. However, in the future when this is all sorted out I am sure I will go back whether for reactive class or another class with her since she enjoys it so much. The reactive class was my support group which makes me sad to have to leave but Oreo’s health was impacting her behavior and she regressed immensely when her health was down. I have met some great people who also have reactive dogs with the blog which is great! I will continue to work on relaxation protocol and activities at home, however I am taking a much-needed break. Her health issues have had me constantly stressed and a mess lately and there is some relief knowing that I can take a break for a little.

Training Session #3

I had our 3rd training session. Oreo is not yet ready to exit the car with other dogs around, so next session we will try setting up some scenarios with another dog and the trainer. The sessions will consist of getting the dog out of the car and looking at me and performing tricks. There are a gambit of different things we can do after we accomplish the focus from the dog.

We are going to be practicing 2 different variations of “come”. One is more traditional, while the other involves going through my legs and should increase trust between us. I feel that so far the training has increased her trust in me and decreased anxiety inside the house.

We will continue “stuffing the dog” (feeding her while saying her name), and continue associating her name with looking at me through different methods. Additionally, we will practice more tricks. I will try to get her to spin the other way (where her injury from the attack was), and hopefully this will help her be less sensitive there. I will also continue TTouch and the trainer may put me in contact with someone going through the TTouch program who can help. She is only a little over a year and a half, so it’s important to get her over these things now.

We practiced a “high five” with the dog. Every few weeks I should teach her a new trick to keep her mind going, and to use for focus so she doesn’t get bored. The key is to realize when she is about to go over threshold for triggers, then make her perform a trick. Many times dogs bark because they are like guard dogs, and that’s why we work so well with dogs and they work well with us. They just want us to acknowledge “ok” we see what you are telling us is there, and it’s ok.

Oreo will be okay when she can see things, but when she doesn’t see them, she gets nuts. For example, when I was walking with the dog into the training barn, her husband was there and Oreo looked and didn’t go crazy. She saw him, continued walking (we didn’t get too close), and she was okay. When we got into the training room, he started up the mower. She couldn’t see it, and started barking and getting upset. At that point, she is using the back of her brain and in the fight or flight mode. She should be using the front of her brain and thinking logically, but when dogs get over their threshold, it’s too late. Sooo the moral of the story is to get their attention and for them to do something before they start using the back of their brain.

We also discussed the RAW diet. She does not want to push it on me, just suggests to look into and see if it is right. The reason she suggested this is because Oreo has lots of digestive issues, and hardly eats the expensive kibble we get her (although she is treated a lot!). I will look into it. I’m mostly concerned about all the time it will take and the cost. I can’t afford to pay more for food, I already pay tons, but some people say it costs less so we shall see.

I have 2 weeks until my next session, but will be away a few weeks at the shore. I’m not sure what will happen after this session (it will be the last one). I do want to continue, but it is super expensive. We shall see…

Just when you think everything is okay…

Everything has been going a lot smoother now that the ear drop extravaganza is over. Oreo’s meds have been upped, but I have seen no noticable difference. However, I have become much more observant and versed in doggie language (calming signals). I think I over analyze everything. Or maybe everything just doesn’t see from my eyes, and Oreo’s eyes. Talking about eyes, look at those eyelashes she has!

Everything has been going pretty well because of management and training. We haven’t had issues with growling when taking things away, instead we “trade”. She has learned that getting off of the couch or bed get her good things. Even as I am writing this it gives me hope to think of all the good things she can do and the progress (no matter how small) she has made. She waits at the door sitting before we go out, the other day she actually went upstairs with me and my husband was laying in bed and she waited, sitting until I said it was okay to go on the bottom of the bed (WOW! big deal for her, she NEVER does that with the bed). She will wait calmly while I put her food down. She still isn’t calm enough to eat “normally” but she will eat if I mix chicken with her food or something else.

Her itching has improved, but within the last few days she has been itching more. She gets probiotics and extra virgin organic coconut oil with her food. I believe this has helped her stomach, and overall health. She used to be sick all the time throwing up and loose stools. We also cut all gluten and wheat out of her diet and give her treats like chicken. It does take a while and can be a pain, but it’s  better that she is healthy and getting quality food.

Well…so everything was going well….then we were at my parents and my aunt, uncle, and niece (toddler) decided to pop in for a visit. Before I knew what was going on, my uncle came through the door. Luckily I got the leash on but she started barking and jumped and got a hold of his shorts and started pulling. I’m not quite sure what she was doing, this has not happened before. I’m guessing she was nervous and thought he was some kind of intruder? She continued to bark and I took her outside for a walk. My niece and aunt were in the pool and Oreo was whining and trying to get to my niece (2 years old). Eventually she calmed down, but when she got out of the pool again Oreo was whining and pulling with the crazy stressed out large eyes look. I believe she is very curious/nervous/excited around kids. I did not let anyone touch her at these times and kept her distance from them. I hate to keep her away so much, but also don’t want anyone to get hurt.

I hope at the next training session (In 3 days) I will learn what to do with exposure and getting along with people. Would I love for her to get along with dogs? Yea! She loves the ones she knew before she was attacked, but I need to live in this reality, she was attacked, and if I was too I probably would avoid whatever attacked me for a long time if not the rest of my life out of fear. I would like her to be more comfortable around people without her being crazy and nervous, but that will take time. She is comfy with people she sees all the time, but new people are scary.

This is becoming a long post. After my uncle said goodbye with his neice and wife Oreo was barking and lunging toward him, and of course he told his grandchild, “BAD DOG, she’s a BAD DOG”. I didn’t say anything, he is ignorant when it comes to dogs and reactivity. These dogs aren’t bad…they are scared.

My neighbor has a fearful dog, who is not fear aggressive, but super shy around people and will run away. Her brother-in-law was visiting and kept telling her what a bad dog he was, that he needed obediance training. This really bothered me, and my neighbor. People can be very ignorant. I was an ignorant person myself, I must admit it. We live and learn, unfortunately, most people do not learn about how to approach dogs. I recently visited , a dog blog where the blogger posts pictures and great examples of calming signals, and when you can tell a dog is afraid.