At this point, one year ago, I’d decided to take Lyra to see a veterinary behaviourist. It was a huge step for me. I had no trouble admitting we had a problem; the hurdle was more one of trust. I don’t easily trust doctors (of any sort), or even medical knowledge, due in part to a skeptical nature and in part to experience. Doctors are not gods — though I have trouble in that department, too 🙂 and lean toward science as the best imperfect method where health is concerned.
Today, I decided to take Lyra back. Why? I feel she’s improving. Her quality of life is good. I have no essential goals for her that exceed what she’s capable of doing right now. So why spend a fortune and go through the hassle of taking her in a car to a vet?
Three reasons: (1) I feel we’ve hit a plateau in her sound sensitivity and stranger CER. It’s not a bad plateau (we can both live with it) but I wonder if there’s more I can do to help her. (2) I don’t understand why she sometimes growls, or even snaps, at family members. It may just be resource guarding (of me or the sofa/bed), it happens seldom, and no one gets hurt, but I still want to understand it and work on it — just in case a bigger problem is lurking. (I don’t think it is a big problem; I think it’s a little problem that will fade with some strategic work.) (3) I don’t feel I can keep her on fluoxetine forever without knowing that it’s still doing what it’s supposed to do. The VB may not be a god, but he knows a shedload more than I. Besides, I thought he had a good take on Lyra last time.
The appointment won’t be until end of April or early May — so I’ve got time to take notes and record observations. I lost momentum, earlier, when she began to improve. Today, I made a new chart to help track both training and behaviour modification. The emphasis is on training (a change from my early charts) but I’ve added a basic fear /reactivity meter, of 0 to 5, where 0 = calm and 5 = over the top panic (shut down or frantic bolting). Because she doesn’t encounter all of her triggers every day, I’ll simply record the trigger as it happens. Over time, I should be able to graph trends in each area — even if I end up with more data for some than for others. Here is my template: TrainingPlan2017 (pdf).
On a lighter note, we had a good walk in the ravine today. Her joy is contagious — as she tracks deer, sniffs every twig, and bounds through the snow. At home, I am loving the practice of “shaping”. It is so much fun. I can see Lyra’s brain working; I can almost hear it click into place when she figures out what action makes the treat happen. And when I get a migraine, which is alarmingly frequent now, she lies with me till I recover. So, in sum, worth it 🙂