Thursday, April 3, 2014

Well, That Didn't Work

So, trazodone was a rather spectacular fail for the treatment of Jai's new car phobia. On the other hand, if I ever start feeling like Jai and I haven't made any progress in the entire two years we've been together, I now have a bottle full of time warp pills!

A few times a week, Jai and I have been practicing car skills. We hop in the car, he gets some cookies, I turn the car off and on a few times, he gets some super yummy cheeses, and maybe I drive up and down the driveway depending on how he's doing. And then we go for a short walk. With out meds, he might be a little hypervigilant, he might pant a little, but mostly he's pretty comfortable. We tried the trazodone several times so that I could be sure it was the medication's influence and not an off day or the phase of the moon or something, but I now feel pretty confident saying that trazodone turns Jai into a panting, shaking, drooling puddle of pit bull go. None of the times we tried the trazodone did I ever feel that Jai was relaxed enough that I should turn on the car.

Now I have pictures of Jai in the car for you. You're welcome.
(Also, why does my dog have tear stains all of a sudden? 

And more importantly, how do I make them go away?)

The trazodone also changed the way Jai behaved on his walks, and it was seriously like taking a TARDIS back to when I first got him. He was hypervigilant, cringe-y, and OMG - the freezing. Freezing used to be a huge problem for Jai, but it's been at least a year since we've had a problem with in. On the trazodone walks, though, Jai froze at least two dozen times, and it was often more than ten seconds before we could get him unstuck. Boy, do I not miss that. On the other hand, Jai did seem less reactive while he was on trazodone. Of course, Jai wasn't reactive when I got him, either. I suspect then, as now on the medication, he was too shut down to be reactive. So in this case "less reactive" is not the same as "better."

One of the concerns that people often have about trying behavior medications with their dog is that it will change their personality; people fear that they will lose what makes their dog their dog. Friend Crystal once used the analogy of behavioral medications as the dial on a radio. If the song is your dog's personality, we know that we can turn the dial on the radio and get more static. But when you turn the dial just right, everything becomes clearer. Using medications won't spontaneously turn your pit bull into a sheltie. Finding the right medication will often make your dog's personality shine through more cleanly without the "static" of excess stress and anxiety getting in the way.

So trazodone didn't work for Jai. When I turn the dial on my radio and get more static, I don't give up and turn the radio off. I turn the dial the other way. So Jai and I will try another medication, and probably another one after that if that on doesn't work. And if medications don't pan out for us, then we will keep on keepin' on, knowing that the music is out there even if it's sometimes hard to hear.

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