I do not have children to blog about so will you indulge me with a recent puppy "parenting" conundrum? Our lovable, beautiful 2 year old pup, Hudson, is experiencing some deep psychological issues.
This is where you say, "but he's a dog."
I know, that's what we have been saying for the past few months but it has become very clear to us that our dog is not normal. Very far from it.
We first noticed something was off this summer when he started peeing and pooping all over the house. It got progressively worse and to the point where he was having accidents about 5-6 times a day. You could not scold him for this because it made him have an accident on the spot and get markedly "depressed". Every time we took him to the vet they told us that it was an issue of training. Despite the fact that I was a bit personally offended by this - hah - it didn't seem right to us. Every time he had an accident you could tell he felt bad and was scared. He knew he wasn't suppose to go in the house and he ALWAYS tried making it to the door. Each time he had an accident it sent him farther into this scared, uncertain and unhappy puppy. It has been such an awful thing to witness.
Well we finally saw another vet and figured out that he had swollen glands that caused him to be incontinent. I won't go into the details but every month we take him in and they help him feel better. This seemed to help a bit but he still wasn't getting back to the Hudson he was.
So another trip gave us the diagnosis of ANXIETY. In a dog. This one was hard to swallow. They wanted to put him on anxiety medication - the same medication they give to humans. We resisted for awhile not knowing what to think about Hudson possibly having anxiety..... Are dogs even capable of suffering from anxiety? I mean this isn't our child. It is our pet. Do you really pursue treatment for something like anxiety in dogs? Do you spend the money on a prescription? A daily, life-long prescription? I don't know what I think about this. I am still very confused about it. I just don't know.
Wel a little back history on Hudson - from day one he has proved to be a little extra sensitive. Any loud noises or tension (aka. fighting) would and still does cause him to run upstairs and hide in our bed. I mean even shouting at a football game brings him right upstairs. We have to go up there and literally reassure our DOG that everything is okay. Weird? Yes, weird. Other than that strange quirk Hudson was completely normal and happy. Very easy going. When we added Lola to the mix, they got along great right away and had fun playing. He was one at the time and still very young and playful. They were buddies. He even shared his bones.
It is a possibility that Lola's existence is a small factor in his "problems" but really she was already a year when his symptoms started. And like I said, they still really love each other and he always is happy running around the yard with her. So I do not think that Lola caused TOO much anxiety.
The more we thought about it and watched Hudson it did become clear to us and our families that Hudson was unhappy, uncertain and mostly fearful. He always seems on edge. He won't lie down, he cannot relax at all and the smallest noise or movement makes him jump. I mean JUMP. The large 100 lb. dog literally jumps to his feet and stands there in a weird hunched position. The same position that he maintains most of the day. He also does this lip curl thing where he looks like he is frowning. Or mad. Given his sensitive pre-disposition we think that Hudson may be a bit "depressed and unsure" or whatever the dog equivalent would be.
My diagnosis: I think that Hudson's gland problem, which is very painful, was unsettling to him. I think the fact that he could not control himself caused him to feel bad and scared because he was trained well and knew that it was wrong to go in the house. I think that since it took the vets so long to diagnose his gland problem he got used to going potty wherever, he got use to not being able to control it, so he has regressed in his training and is use to just going. All of this took a toll on Hudson's sensitive personality and made him sad. Also the craziness of this fall with the kitchen remodel and lots of contractors in and out of the house and lack of space for him upset his routine and further added to the problem.
So all that to say, right before Christmas we decided to try a trial run of the anti-anxiety medication for him. We have started to re-train him with positive reinforcement and are working on giving him more of a routine and stability. We have noticed a change. He seems happier and has gone several days with none to extremely minimal accidents.
He's not there yet though. It will be a long process and hopefully we are correct in our understanding of Hudson so that we can continue to help him feel better and healthier. More like the sweet, happy puppy we first brought home.
So do any of you have any insight into Hudson's issues? Have you heard of something similar? Or maybe you have dealt with something like this? We love our little guy a lot and just want to see him happy and healthy.
Thanks for listening.