May 6 to Dec 31, 2016

We increased Lyra’s dose to 30 mg of fluoxetine on 6 May 2016. The following are videos to help track her progress since that date. (I.e., “day 6” means 6 days into the new dose.)

May 11 (day 6): Lyra continues to make tentative forays up the street in a direction she previously avoided. I find it interesting that she wants to explore; it’s as if she’s nudging her own comfort zone. Otherwise, since the dose increase, her energy and interest in the park are low. Here, she sees a man (a stranger) walking toward our house — a scenario that has agitated her in the past. Today, she watched him approach without barking; she showed little discomfort as he passed; and only a few lip licks after he’d gone by. I think she wanted to greet him, but we still need to work on her manners, so I asked her to sit.

May 12 (day 7): Lawn mowers have never been the worst enemy for Lyra — not like garbage trucks — but they have in the past made her uneasy. After many ball games and treats in the yard while lawn mowers were rumbling, she is now pretty immune to their sound, even (as here) when the mower is in the next yard over.

May 13 (day 8): Not so much progress with garbage trucks, sadly. Today, we heard the truck in the yard, but she would not be distracted by her ball game; she went to hide in a shrub. She took bacon from my hand only when the sound faded. I took her indoors, and she ran straight for her crate in the office. There, she refused bacon when the truck was right outside the house, but took it as the sound receded. Afterwards, she went into the closet and fell asleep. (The video quality is terrible, I’m afraid. It was a busy work day, and I didn’t have my Lyra act together, apart from the bacon….)

May 22 (day 17): Lyra continues to struggle (more than before the increase) with the garbage trucks. However, she does seem calmer around people and vehicles in general. I took a video of her relaxing in the yard with various things going on around her. Children were playing in the yard next door; their dad did a few cartwheels; lawn-care machines were humming in the background, as was H’s guitar. She used to bark at people over the fence, so the main thing I want to show is her relaxed demeanor even though she can see activity through the gaps in the fence.

June 2 (day 28): Lyra is able to play and relax near a cricket team at the park. (Earlier today she barked at a class of children sprinting towards her; but it was more a bark of excitement, and didn’t last).

June 2 (day 28): Lyra walked home this evening past a number of potential triggers with very little reactivity. The field of view isn’t great, here, so you can’t see the strangers at the beginning, the boy who rolls a bin down his driveway, the woman who calls out to us, or the cars with headlights that pass us on the road. She reacts slightly to one pickup truck — which is louder than the others and has squealing brakes. But I ask her to “stay with me” and she does. (Throughout, I treat her for walking near my side and looking up at me).

June 10 (day 36): Lyra was in the yard when a GT could be heard. No loud brake squeal, just the revving of the trucks moving forward. I took two videos: One before she seemed to register the sound (though in both cases I could hear it in the distance); the other, as she became more aware of the sound. In the “after” video she is clearly less engaged with Michael, but not panicky — which is a great improvement on the last month. Again, though, I did not hear any brake squeals (which doesn’t mean she didn’t), so it may not be the best comparison. On the other hand, it’s the first time in weeks she’s heard evidence of the trucks without hiding. No trazodone today; only the 30 mg fluoxetine.

Before:

After:

 

July 5, 2016: Lyra had the best ever walk to and from the vet’s office today. It involves crossing a busy road. She baulked only once, briefly, on the way there. On the way home, she walked calmly (Lyra’s version of calm, anyway!) until we got close to the busy road. She picked up her pace, and was clearly excited — and at least slightly stressed at the intersection — but not panicky. (The vet visit well, too: not happy to be handled, but no sign of aggression. She spent some of the time under a chair, but it was partly the heat, partly habit, and partly the fact that we were there for 1 1/2 hours, due to other emergencies. A good event on the whole!)

September 8, 2016: I took her to the vet again today. On the way there (crossing the big road) she baulked a few times, but came forward happily enough when I said “come.” At the vet’s office, she lay in the middle of the floor rather than under a chair. She followed my cue to sit and wait on the scale (usually she is too stressed by that point to follow any cue). She did not want to go into the exam room for a nail trim, so I had to lift her up, but there was no trembling, and immediately after she was cheerful. On the way home, she reacted (straining) to the sound of a bus braking; but shortly after that, she walked calmly past a loud and flashing excavator truck. I’d given her the option to take a different road, but she wanted to go the usual route (creature of habit that she is). She chose to walk up to the truck, where a man was directing the big hose into the sewer, then she walked around it as if it were simply a big hedge. When we got to the “scary” road, she walked (for her) without struggle (see video).

September 22, 2016: Yesterday she handled a surprise 5-hour visit from 3 teens (two unknown to her) beautifully. No fear, only excitement. She was able to respond well to cues and eventually relax. Today, though, I’m posting a video of her crossing a road. On the way to our usual ravine, we had to pass by an unexpected line-up of heavy trucks. She was not very bothered, until the air brakes sounded on one of the trucks. This spooked her, but I gave her some chicken and we carried on (she was keen to go forward). She’d also been spooked by a feral cat, moments before. On our way home, then, I decided to film her approach to the trucks — to see if she “remembered” the air brake scare. My sense, reviewing the video, is that she was slightly aroused, but no more than she usually is crossing a busy road. (Later, when we saw the same cat, she was fine if a little cautious.)

December 1, 2016: We had six teenagers (plus my two) in the house today — four whom Lyra had never met. She was much more relaxed than she’d been eight months ago, under similar conditions. When she first saw the crowd arrive, she was agitated and did not want to be stroked; however, she soon settled — in spite of their choir practice, which included many strange, shrill sounds (vocal warm-ups), time keeping, and of course singing. She was relaxed up close with individual girls (they were all female) and happy to chew a toy in the same room with the whole crowd.