Oh, Ducky! Part 3 – Making Progress

Before I get started on this post, let me say HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!

So, for those of you who are interested but missed Parts 1 and 2 of this “Oh, Ducky!” saga, you can find them here and here.

And for those of you who have been following along and waiting (or not) for the next “installment”, here goes…

Back at the beginning of November the Whole Dog Journal published a blog post entitled “Listen to Your Gut When It Comes to Your Dog – and Act on It!”  by Nancy Kerns. I skimmed over it, put it aside, and promptly forgot about it.

Until a few days before Christmas that is.

I was working with Ducky out in the back yard. About ten minutes earlier she had gotten a bit snarky with Shadow – again – over who knows what at this point.  This has been going on almost daily for more than two months. I’m tired of it.

And I’m tired of her barking her fool head off at hubby and acting like a cujo dog every time he gets up out of his chair to do whatever.

And I’m really tired of hubby yelling at her to stop barking at him. I love him to the moon and back; but sometimes he drives me up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the opposite wall. Yelling at a dog to stop barking is like laughing at a little kid while telling  said kid to stop laughing. Ya know?

Admittedly, my frustration with the situation tends to surface in my tone of voice and transfers to my patience level. Or lack thereof.

Anyway, I’ve been working with Ducky on her place command pretty intensely and will continue to do so. (Especially in the morning so I can study or just read.) She settles down into a little nap pretty quickly once she’s had a chance to relieve herself out in the yard.

But, while Ducky continues to do what I ask of her most of the time – providing there aren’t any tree rats or other critters to distract her – I’ve noticed some momentary tail tucks. And that breaks my heart.

So, I’ve started an online course to help me get a handle on Ducky’s reactivity by getting a handle on my own reactions to her behaviors. I just started the course last week, but I’m starting to see some progress….

Normally Ducky starts getting snarky when I’m giving her (Ducky) attention and Shadow starts approaching us. That’s been my impatience trigger. This past week I’ve been forcing myself to stay calm when Ducky starts getting snarky. I’ve just held her in place, told her to relax, and kept her there until she calmed down. The shuddering and shivering as she calmed herself Thursday morning only lasted less than a minute.

So, we’re making some progress. Whether or not the combination of the Fluoxetine and Trazodone is any more effective than just the Fluoxetine by itself I may never know. But as long as the two together – along with the change in my approach to the problem – works, I’m not going to look a gift dog in the mouth.

Know Your Limitations 

Last Saturday – while I was in the shower – hubby was outside, getting ready to bring our riding lawnmower for service. He tripped on the side of the concrete driveway, fell, and landed hard on his left knee and shoulder.  He was coming back inside as I was going outside to help him load the mower on to the trailer…

Needless to say, we didn’t go anywhere the rest of the day.  I cleaned up the abrasions but he refused an ice pack. At 6 pm, he tried to get out of the chair and couldn’t. I had to call EMS. We got to the ER about 6:30. And we were there for 3+ hours.

Poor Ducky was totally confused, and stressed. When the EMTs arrived the first time. I had to put her in the room downstairs to keep her from acting out against them. That just added to her confusion and stress. When Sam was settled into the ambulance, I brought Ducky back upstairs and put her in her crate in the bedroom. I gave them both kisses and a treat, and locked up the house.  And followed the ambulance to the hospital. I didn’t see the girls again until about quarter to ten. By the time I got home, the poor dogs needed to relieve themselves and were hungry. Sam was being brought home in an ambulance in another half hour or so. Then the confusion and stress rose again for Ducky when once more she had to wait downstairs while the EMTs got her dog-daddy settled in the bed.

Sunday was stressful, too. But fast forward to bedtime. Ducky snarked at Shadow for trying to get in the bedroom.  Something she hasn’t done in a long time. And Monday morning they had another “altercation” over a damn ball. Luckily, no blood was drawn; but Shadow cried out before I could get Ducky under control and downstairs to cool off. And give myself a chance to cool off. Ducky may not understand the concept of timeout; but she knows when Mommy is pissed off. I gave Shadow a Tramadol to relieve the pain where Ducky clamped down on her leg, and reassured her that she did nothing wrong. After about 20 or 30 minutes, I let Ducky come back upstairs. They “made up” but pretty much kept their distance from each other the rest of the day. 

That’s when I decided I had more than enough stress having to play nursemaid to an immobile spouse. I needed help with Ducky. So I called the owner of Ducky’s daycare and asked her to put together a quote for me to resume a 5-days-a-week schedule for Ducky until hubby regains the majority of his mobility. 

It’s not the ideal situation. I’d rather have Ducky home  – and she would prefer to be home – and learning to deal with her daddy’s situation with my help. But I know myself. I know that when I’m stressed and tired, my patience suffers.  And that’s not good for Ducky. Or for Shadow. Ducky needs an outlet for her turbocharged energy – and her stress – that I can’t provide all day long right now. Especially with Shadow on leash restriction. And Shadow needs focused love and attention. So, for now at least, Ducky will be spending at least half a day at daycare every weekday.  She was worn out yesterday afternoon when I picked her up; and there was peace between my girls all evening, even at bedtime.

So, my advice is this: when you’re in a stressful situation, acknowledge your limitations and gather the courage to ask for whatever help you need. You’ll be doing yourself and everyone you love and live with a big favor. Don’t try to do it all yourself.