Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hurricane Update Part 4: Desmond's Losing It

Here we are on day 120 of Hurricane Sandy displacement (also known as 3 months and 28 days since or 17 weeks and 1 day since--but really, no one is counting. nope. not one of us. and definitely not me.), and Desmond's regression to full separation anxiety and his increase to bonkers on the reactivity scale has resulted in two things I never would have predicted at the onset of this blog:

Xanax and a crate. 

Before I continue, I'll tell you right now that this is a "to be continued" post. It simply would be way too long otherwise.

Now, I haven't posted an update with any real information in a while, so let me get you up to speed in case you haven't been following us on Facebook and Instagram (which, by the way, you can now use on the web--no need for a fancy-shmancy phone app).

In addition to the first problems mentioned above, Desmond has been depressed. And, yes, that's a real thing that can happen to a dog. It's similar to how depression works in humans--only it's almost worse, because a human can rationalize. (I implore you to click on those two links for some quick info on it.)

A human knows that one day he or she will get back home and life will return to normal. Humans, such as ourselves, are aware that they will probably have to move again before getting back home and can mentally prepare for that. The dog--who requires structure and consistency to have a happy, healthy life in which he feels safe--is just along for the bumpy ride.

Sad doggie
Desmond often swings between two extremes: he is either awake and wants to play or otherwise is demanding attention with barking and whining, or he is passed out, usually with the need to be on top of someone. 

He also has been favoring sleeping over other activities. It used to be that we could entice him into a game of fetch. You say, "ball" and he gets excited. Now he plays only when he wants to--which is usually after a very very long nap and only for a couple minutes, after which he goes right back into a deep sleep. 

In addition to that, he's even sleeping through meals and snacks and offerings of treats. Desmond loves bacon (who doesn't?) and generally is very interested in what's going on when I'm cooking any kind of food. But he's been ignoring cooking activities and ignoring the presence of cooked bacon a mere few feet away from him. Normally, he'd be right next to you with his head on your leg, quietly leaving a puddle of drool on your pants and staring at your bacon.

And all of this is in combination with the fact that he is generally not eating. The dog who wolfed his meals down so fast that he needed special bowls and to be sat upright afterwards now looks at his bowl of food forlornly. He'll go a couple of days before finally deciding to eat what we're offering, even though we're jazzing it up with various things--crumbled treats, cheese, broth, liver sprinkles, you name it. 

En route to the vet, Desmond made friends with a box in our backseat
Yes, he is older now than he was when we brought him home and these could be natural changes, but he's still not even 3 (as far as we know). And, yes, he is the type of dog who gets bored with his food every few months, but all of this is something different. I know my dog, and I know he is not OK. 

There are things we can do to help him--and I'm sure many people reading this are thinking "well, just blah blah blah, and he'll be fine"--but those things are much easier said than done. 

Joey and I are getting by on a daily basis and managing to hold together as much normalcy as possible, but we're both under far more stress than either of us let on or talk about. There's no doubt Desmond is picking up on this.

I acknowledge that we happen to be in a situation that is better than the situation many others are stuck in at the moment, but that does not make it feel any different. It is no easy task being displaced and continuing to handle the normal stresses  and obligations of life and work when that's all compounded by a rather frustrating and slow process to get back into your home, an absurd amount of unknowns regarding what the government will require of you at any given point in this process, and a dog who already had problems going into this whole mess.

It's hard to motivate yourself to do things you want to do. Every day is simply emotionally and mentally exhausting. Trying to get back home is all-consuming. And Desmond, unfortunately, is not benefitting from any of that.

Relaxed enough to nap only if his head is wedged between the front seats (and he is strapped in back there--just really determined to get in the front)
He is at a point where he is not able to be left alone (he started being destructive again). This means we require a dog sitter anytime we need to or want to go out, or we have to do things separately so someone can stay with the dog. Maybe that doesn't sound so bad to you, but it causes us quite a few complications. I'm working from home three days a week. Not because I want to, but because I have to (and I'm very luck to have a supportive employer). How many times can you put a dog in daycare when it costs $50 a day?

So we made two executive decisions: finally get Desmond some much-needed medication, even if we have to beg, and make an attempt at crate training him. We now have a prescription for xanax and a crate we borrowed from one of Desmond's DBFFs, Kona. Remember her?

Yup. Nothing weird about bringing this to the pharmacy.
More about the crate and what exactly went down at the vet soon!

And for all the previous posts where I talk about our experience with Hurricane Sandy, click here.

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