Sorry to be so quiet here. Life has been really crazy. Or rather, Leelu has been really crazy and I’ve been really stressed.
When last we met, Leelu had been put on Carprofen for pain (which is working very nicely) and Prozac for anxiety. Only the Prozac ratcheted up her anxiety big time. It is one of the possible side-effects of Prozac, and very few dogs experience that one, but leave it to Leelu to be unusual.
It was, to put it simply, a week or so from hell. Leelu was terrified non-stop, wouldn’t let me near her. I had to leave her halter and leash on full time so I could get her out, and even grabbing the leash dragging on the floor was challenging. Her fight or flight instincts kicked in constantly. She wouldn’t go out to potty with me unless Gracie came with us. She spent most of her time cowering, licking her lips (a calming signal for dogs), yelping when I hadn’t even touched her, and so much more. I couldn’t get near her, or help her in any way.
I didn’t realize it was the Prozac at first. Leelu has a habit of “holding a grudge” against people she associates with her various episodes when she is totally over threshold, and I was the person present for the last two of those very recent ones. But I have always been Leelu’s person, and she has never held my presence at one of her fearful moments against me before. I was truly at my wit’s end and ready to give up when I went online and researched the side effects of Prozac, and made an educated guess that Leelu was experiencing one.
I am very lucky to have a vet who knows I am a careful observer and she believed me when I left a message saying that Leelu was 10 times more stressed on Prozac than before. She hadn’t been on it that long, so we were planning a very short “weaning off” period of a pill every other day for three doses. But after she skipped the first day, and had been off it for 48 hours, she was back to being the Leelu I know. The vet gave me permission to skip the “weaning off” since she was sooooo improved quickly, and she had been on it less than 2 weeks.
The timing was good. The vet wanted her to lose another 2-3 pounds (she was 42 lbs when I got her and is now 33) because of the old ACL injury and the spinal issue. Less weight is good. But she was losing the weight and I hadn’t been able to adjust her harness or collar without risking life and limb. When I took her for a walk this morning she slipped a leg out of the too-loose harness, right next to a very busy street. I took a deep breath (since dogs can sense stress and will respond in kind), relaxed as best I could, and thankfully, she let me get the harness off and hook her leash to the collar. She could have slipped out of the collar easily enough had she seen a squirrel or something, but we headed home and got there without incident. Deep breath. After I let some of my stress go, I was able to adjust her harness to fit her more svelte body. I’ll tackle her collar later…enough for one day. I never had any trouble with her harness, collar, Adaptil collar in the past, and I hope we are back to normal now.
There is still work to do. Leelu still has anxiety and goes “over threshold” quickly when she is scared. Pain, or the threat of pain, is a big trigger, and hopefully some of that is being handled by the Carprofen. Hands are another problem for her, especially flat ones coming toward her. The vet and I decided not to try another drug for the time being, and I will start her on a relaxation protocol created by Karen Overall to see if I can help her learn to relax more effectively. Once she is a bit calmer, I will also be doing muzzle training with her, so we have an option when we know she’s got a situation she can’t yet handle. We’ll give all of this a month or so and see where we are. Phew!
On the positive side, my little foster kittens, Leia and Luke, went together to their forever home a few days ago.
My foster room is empty, which is hasn’t been for more than a day or two since last March. I’m taking a little break since kitten season will start up usually in March or April at the latest. Cats don’t get pregnant when it is really cold, but it hasn’t been terribly cold this winter, so I suspect kitten season will be early. My poor brain hasn’t caught up with the empty foster room yet, and at least 5-6 times a day I remind myself to go check on the kittens. By the time my brain adjusts and I stop doing that, there will probably be kittens ready to come hang with me!
Lastly, it was an amazing week for some of us here in the United States. I was glued to the TV on Inauguration Day, and I feel like I can breathe again. So much work to do, but at least the work is finally underway. I know that there are millions who are probably very unhappy, and we have a lot of work to do to bring people closer together, but I am hopeful. It was a long four years.