Weaning off Prozac.

The reason Jake went on Prozac was that after Melvin died, his days were harder for him to manage.  In fact, some things he couldn’t manage at all. The howl-crying at the door I had mentioned, but he also went back to having severe separation anxiety when I’d leave. It was worse than when he first came to live here because after Melvin died, he was truly alone in the house. I know how to work him through the SA but once we started the Prozac, the remaining SA went away, even though it wasn’t a goal for taking it.

So in essence, I forgot about a couple things that Jake did pre-Prozac.  But have no fear, he has reminded me of all of them.  At once.

During the snow storm, when I’d go outside to shovel, I’d hear Jake.  It was a noise I recognized, he was honking, like a duck because I’d left him alone.  He had not done this for several months, why was he doing it all of a sudden. (In Blizzards, your brain slows down, true story.).

He also suddenly could not be without me, but not in a cute, cuddly way.  If I got up to go to the loo, he would frantically scramble to get up and run to find me in a ‘HOLY CRAP WHERE DID SHE GO I’M ALL ALONE AND MAY DIE’ way.  I’ve had a velcro dog.  Velcro dogs follow you calmly to the loo.  Jake ‘ran’ and plowed into walls desperate to locate me. Why in the world was he doing this? (my brain, still in slow-mo).

Then, as I was cooking in the kitchen and Jake was sitting in the dining room, full view of me, he started barking at me.  The ONLY time he does this is if a Kong rolls under furniture.  I looked, no Kongs.  He kept doing it.  Sitting. Barking. Then he did the same when I was watching TV, sit and bark.  And when I was in the shower. Sit and bark.  So much sitting and barry-white-voice-barking.

And then it hit me, the Prozac was helping with anxiety we didn’t even know he had. It was beyond grief.  I had said all along that Melvin is a dog that needed people.  Jake is a dog that needs another dog.  If only he knew this. A sibling dog would stay with you when I leave. A sibling dog would stay with you when I GO TO THE BATHROOM!

So… I’m back in planning mode.  We are going to see the behaviorist for his anxiety.  Never, ever, is life dull!

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We survived!

I had planned to blog some during the blizzard because I thought I would have tons of free time.  Not the case!  Between shoveling, snow blowing, WASHING DIAPERS and cooking, I also ended up having some house guests whose parents got snowed out of town so we had some dinners and movie nights with them and their Bop (grandmother).

Jake loved every minute of it!  Jake also does not know that it snowed. When you open the door to the outside and it’s 36 inches high (official count!) with snow, Jake laughs at you.  He rolls over laughing and points to you as if to say ‘you are sooooooo funny, hahahahhahahahahah’! Then he goes back inside and pees in his diaper.

We got a lot of snow. And we will have a lot of snow for some time.  And I love it!

Hope you all had a great weekend, stay tuned for how coming off of Prozac did work against us this weekend.

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Storm Prep.

We have food. We have adult beverages.  We have a snowblower and a generator.  I am a planner.  We were good to go on Tuesday.

Melvin loved the snow.  LOVED.  He would bounce and bound through it and eat it up! There were a few storms that I had to dig a path for him, but he worked really hard at forging forward in it no matter what the height of the drift. Some of our favorite walks were at night after a snow when the streets were empty and all was quiet and white!

Jake is the polar opposite. See what I did there with ‘polar’?  If I open the back door for potty and Jake hears dew forming on the grass during Spring, he won’t go out.  He has some internal dampness gauge and if it senses moisture, he about faces and ‘runs’ and hides.

If you see Jake in any snow photos, it’s because I picked him up inside and literally set him into the snow.  There is no leading him with food, no dragging.  He is not falling for it.  Being tossed is the only chance of his body making contact with snow.

Thus, the biggest preparation for Jake and the blizzard is to be sure his diapers and his cloth diaper inserts are clean. Check!

It is 12:50 in Northern Virginia and the snow has started! Stay tuned for Jake versus the elements!

Some past snow photos…

Tossed into it! (safely!) 3 19 14a

He may have been part St. Bernard. 3 19 14

Back in the day when Jake could go on walks and I was big on them wearing matching jackets and snoods! photo[3]

Lily pads.

Jake and hardwood floors no longer jive.  Getting the house carpeted is not happening (dude leaks pee 24/7 and even the best diapers in the world fail every now and then and it’s easier to replace area rugs).  So my solution, lily pads.

I mean he eats frogs. Why not be one.

The lily pads help him maneuver at a more upright position.  He may knuckle, his legs may not be at all steady, but he can still stand for a bit on the pads and that helps lesson his frustration and muscle strain.

So if you come to our home (and you are always welcome) you should know that the random floor carpets and yoga mats are supposed to be there. Although many ask ‘did you mean to drop this yoga mat right here, in the foyer?’.  This has been a hard transition for the interior decorator that lives inside my soul.  Love is better than decorating. (I chant that daily).

Jake hops from surface to surface, just like in the game Frogger.  And sometimes, when on the small patch of hardwood, or if he veers off course because he sees food in the kitchen, it is truly as if a car runs him over.  SPLAT! (the good news is that these patches are helping him learn to drag).

Why do you keep calling me a yogi? I’m a frog-dog. IMG_7061

 

The path from foyer to fireplace.IMG_7063

 

The trip to the mudroom (behind the couch option).IMG_7069

 

The trip to the mudroom – shortcut option. IMG_7066

 

We have the same set-up upstairs for my little frogger. IMG_6124

 

Pro(zac) and Cons.

Jake suffered grief after Melvin died.  In addition to opting for solitary existence, he would sit at the door that Melvin was taken out of, and howl-cry.  I did everything I could to help him, but like me, he had to learn to carry his loss.  Our vet recommended Prozac.  I was willing to try anything to help him, and make the crying stop.

We started the Prozac and after a few weeks he was doing better.  I’m not sure if it was all the Prozac or not but it didn’t matter, my boy was headed in the right direction.  He stayed on it and once we started seeing the behaviorist (after he tried to dismember every dog we met), she suggested that Prozac might help him with future meetings (dosage adjustments might be needed).  The theory – that it would lower his desire to kill anxiety when confronted with a dog that was not Melvin. (Melvin was his natural Prozac).

Well in terms of how he did with other dogs, I think we all know how well that went. Craptastic.

So I decided that Jake has learned to carry his grief and that he no longer needs Prozac.  I weaned him off for a few reasons (aside from the grief fading). One, I don’t like to throw medications at something when it’s just not needed.  If he comes off of it and starts to spaz out in a new direction, we can discuss options (medication and training) but right now, my gut says he will be ok.  Two, there are some theories that dogs on Prozac don’t always do better with behavioral issues (like meeting new dogs) because it suppresses their natural ability to react and respond.  (I’m not a medical professional or a behaviorists, that is my dumb’d down version of what I’ve learned).  So in Jake’s case, the Prozac MIGHT have kept him from being able to react differently when presented with other dogs because it made him ‘unaware’ of other natural responses he could have, like calming the bleep down.

Since coming off the Prozac, his energy level has doubled as has his perceived idea of how strong he is.  (Not sure either of these will help with adding a dog to the family!). He now thinks he can leap onto the couch.  Which he cannot.  I may need Prozac to deal with a Jakie that ‘leaps’ head first into objects he thinks he can hurdle (the momma helps him fly whenever she is close by!).  But if my little wonky chicken thinks he can fly now, coming off Prozac was the right thing to do.

This is a photo hanging in my closet. I think Jake has adopted this sentiment.

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A pocket full of memories.

Winter has finally arrived here!  I love winter.  For the first time since last year, I got winter coats out. Today, I was out and about and put my hands into my first-worn-coat pockets.  My walk came to a stop and joy washed over me. One pocket was full of Melvin’s hypoallergenic treats.  In the other pocket were two rolls of poop bags.

Insert beautiful sigh and smile here. These are the moments when I know he’s here.

I have rounded a corner with my grief.  I don’t know when it happened.  I had anticipated Christmas being hard, the same way I anticipate the one year anniversary of his death being difficult. But since the new year, the grief has lessened its gravitational pull on me. Melvin simplified my life. His existence was almost spiritual to me.  It calmed me.  It helped me to breathe deeply.  He grounded me. And over the past few weeks, as my grief has shifted, I’ve felt a return to that simplicity.  I feel Melvin guiding me, back to my happy place.

I still cry now and then, i don’t think that will ever change. I proudly own my grief. I lost something incredibly important to me.  Never apologize for learning to live after great loss. But the tears do not sting the way they used to.  And 100% of the time, they are wiped away by a memory that makes me laugh. Healing has a way of silently taking over.

Keep chasing joy.

I’ve been going through my tens of thousands photos and videos. I have avoided Melvin visuals for long enough now. I go through them slowly, there is no need to binge watch memories, they deserve a slow waltz.  The timing must be right because I’m loving every moment of the dance down memory lane. It’s not just joyful to see Melvin, it’s a reminder that all those bits and pieces make up the whole of my life and I’m really honored I get to keep going on this journey for, with and because of Melvin.

Say it with me — love lives on!

My driver.

Lessons.

I was recently interviewed by Lessons From a Paralyzed Dog.  It’s funny, when they asked me if they could interview me my first thought was ‘but why?’.  Jake has been ‘wonky’ for a few years now.  In fact, Facebook just reminded me last week that it’s been exactly two years now. I slowly got to become an ‘expert’ on some things, so to be honest, I don’t really think of myself as able to add too much content.  But I guess I have learned a thing or fifty over the past few years!

When I was being interviewed, the questions made me smile.  Why did you start the blog? Melvin’s face popped into my head, three-year-old Melvin who had blood-red skin, very little hair and more energy than a power plant.  The blog started off to chronicle life with the world’s most allergic dog.  To share our crazy antics and our trials and failures and successes. To laugh at our crazy life and to let those who might read our little blog know, health issues are what you make of them.

Melvin provided constant content!  Allergies, infections, tail injury and amputation.  Behavioral challenges, separation anxiety, more allergies, so many more allergies. Colitis, countless ER visits, ear infections, giardia, mange, diarrhea, constipation and cancer. And loss. Oh, Melvin, indeed!

Please stop including my name and diarrhea in the same sentence. 9 18 13e

Jake has also never failed me in the content space.  From his punk start in the family to the decline of his mobility, from his eyes to his meatballs, dude continues to teach me so much about perseverance.

The days of him being diaper-less are long gone. 9 18 13a

A few things came up during the interview. Things that have stayed true to who I am and to what my life with the dogs has been about.

  • When something comes up, seek a solution.  Otherwise, it’s going to become a problem and problems add up and can overwhelm life.
  • There is laughter and joy, even in the worst moments.
  • This is life.  This is our life.  It’s gorgeous and complicated and I wouldn’t change a single thing.

We were excited to be featured and to giveaway one of our favorite solutions, a Sirius Republic Belly Band.  And to celebrate his new-found fame, Jake did something extraordinary.  Something he has not done in well over a year.  Something that made this dog mom so proud and so happy and so shocked.  He pooped in the yard! It was so incredibly shocking that I didn’t even know what to do and I had no idea where the poop bags were since I have not needed them since Melvin was here! I even left the tied-up-bag outside as a reminder that MIRACLES HAPPEN! That’s right, sometimes crap can be a miracle!

Celebrate everything!  Life is too sweet not too!

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