Sunday, March 7, 2010

Feel the Warmth

Well, based on the temperatures today, I simply cannot imagine we're going to have much more winter before spring finally hits us.

In one way, this is good - no more snow to complicate walks, travel, and anything else. No more cold nights with the wind howling. No more frozen nose, toes, ears, fingers and feet.

Yet, the warm weather means that we will be, once again, be faced with the warm weather challenges that go along with owning a fearful dog.

Even just in the span of this lone warm day, I've seen so many more people outside of my house and in my neighborhood than I have in the past few months. With that comes noise, too - and we've had a fair share of construction projects around us, and I can almost guarantee that we'll have more.

Marge is faring pretty well so far. The proximity of one of the construction sites to my house has caused a little bit of discomfort for her, and she has had some isolated incidents on walks where some things have made her feel uncomfortable. I'm trying to ensure that she is able to deal with these distractions and stressors now before they hit their peak in the summer. Lots of cookies have been doled out, and I've tried to vary our walking routes a lot so she gets comfortable with different things.

I know that our schedule is going to have to change - aside from the scary stuff, Marge is not a fan of the heat, so our walks are going to be shorter and take place earlier in the day and later in the evening. As long as there are no fireworks (which I'm hoping is at least another few months), our night walks will continue.

She is still getting her L-Theanine supplement, and I don't plan to take it away any time soon. I don't know how much it's helping - my gut tells me it's helping a teeny bit - but I know it's not hurting her. I did speak with the vet a few months ago about possibly medicating her this summer so that we don't have the same relapse that we had last summer.. I'm unsure if that's really necessary or not. Still, I WOULD like to have some alprazolam (Xanax) on hand for her for the really bad days, like July 4th. I am unsure how privy my vet will be to this idea, but I think it is something important to explore.

Today, for the first time in what feels like forever, we made our way down to the beach, just for a few minutes. I remember talking earlier about how glorious the off-season at the beach was going to be for us, and it was. Now, I can't believe that the off-season is almost over, and soon Marge won't be allowed on most of this sand.

So far, the transition from cold to warm is going alright - and I'm going to cross my fingers that it stays that way.


NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! March 7, 2010 at 12:26 AM  

In my khase, evFURRYtrip out means a trip to the towel befur khoming bakhk in!

Khyra & Khousin Merdie

Martha March 7, 2010 at 4:07 AM  

We are hopeful that the warmer weather arrives although like Marge we tend to prefer the cold!
Have a good weekend.
Lovely beach shot!
Martha & bailey xxx

Sara March 7, 2010 at 6:40 AM  

I've been worrying about this warmer weather myself....the return of my neighbors' kids to the yard! OH NO! Oreo loses his safe haven. Aren't they ready for college yet? LOL.

Diana March 7, 2010 at 6:55 AM  

Sorry about loosing the beach when finally there is warm weather. I hope get to enjoy it some more before it ends. Diana

Dexter March 7, 2010 at 6:58 AM  

Yes, when the weather is warm, the humans like to come out and run about. Is there anything more scary than a human running towards you making panting sounds and looking so focused? If only they could see through our eyes.


houndstooth March 7, 2010 at 8:00 AM  

Keep reacting to it like it's a fun, positive experience and hopefully she'll continue to feel the same! Looks like she's come a long way in confidence!

Cyndi and Stumpy March 7, 2010 at 8:29 AM  

I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the progress Marge has made.

I used to get down to the beach at daybreak so my dogs could have their swim run on the beach and again just at dusk. It wasn't any less illegal, but less likely that I would be busted or their would be noisemakers or the kind of people that would care.

Frankie Furter and Ernie March 7, 2010 at 9:47 AM  

Well, you may be in for a big surprise. Marge may just have gotten past those scary isssues!!

KB March 7, 2010 at 9:54 AM  

IMO, if your vet isn't enthusiastic about trying to help through the really hard days by letting you have an anti-anxiety drug on hand, he deserves to have you leave and find a new vet. That's just my opinion - but a vet should always be looking out for the good of their patient. Heck, he could just give you a few pills at at time so he knows that you're only using it for emergencies!

Springtime always has the downside here too of more people out. Here, they're on the trails, not realizing the huge change that it is for all of us who were out there in -20 deg F weather... But, good for them. Better outside than watching tv.

Gus, Louie and Callie March 7, 2010 at 10:05 AM  

Oh ya walks on the beach would be awesome.. Enjoy it while you can. There will soon be lots of people out there and you won't be allowed. We think that just isn't right.. Dogs deserve fun too..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Bijou March 7, 2010 at 11:05 AM  

Hi Marge & Sam,

It is finally warming up here too! We even had some thunder boomers with the rain we got last night. Spring can't be far off now. Enjoy what's left of the weekend!


Sue March 7, 2010 at 12:40 PM  

Too bad we can't have sun and trees and flowers, but still keep the cooler temps. I don't look forward to the heat and humidity and neither do the dogs. It does mean trips to the lake, though...

Kathy Mocharnuk March 7, 2010 at 1:20 PM  

OOOH that is sad you will lose the beach....we will miss the Marge pictures on the beach come summer. I think keeping xanax on hand for hard times is an excellent idea, especially with holidays like the 4rth.

Sam March 7, 2010 at 1:46 PM  

There will still be beach pictures, but in reduced capacity. There is still one stretch of beach where dogs are allowed - the only problem is that a lot of people (and a lot of offleash dogs) frequent the spot, too, so we're pretty picky-choosy as to when we go.

In lieu of beach pictures, I hope to get back out into the woods and start hiking again - it's been months. I think making use of our miles of trails might be a good idea for exercise in the summer.

kissa-bull March 7, 2010 at 2:41 PM  

yay for the warm weather and yey for trips to the water
pibble sugars and wee wags
the houston pittie pack

Anonymous March 7, 2010 at 6:57 PM  

Hi Miss Samantha. Me and my mom remember how much stressies there were last summer for you and Marge. I am hoping real hard that this summer is way better than last. As you know, xanax has made me feel Most Better in scary places. So I very much hope your vet is open to the idea of giving it a try.

Wiggles & Wags,

RILEY AND STAR MY MALTESEKIDS March 7, 2010 at 8:18 PM  

Hi Sweetie,

Get some new speedos and get ready to ride the waves! it will be warm soon and you look like you want to jump in already!

Happy Spring!

Riley and Star.

Lorenza March 8, 2010 at 12:01 AM  

I am sure you and Marge are going do it great with the challenges coming with the warm weather!
You two are a great team!
Kisses and hugs

Cinnamon and Mint March 8, 2010 at 2:38 AM  

You've kept working on Marge's fearfulness, so you should have less problems this year. Trust yourself and what you've done!

Jules March 8, 2010 at 8:57 AM  

We also had a gorgeous weekend and therefore had to deal with many more people. Not Ike's fave, surprisingly he handled it pretty well - it sounds like Marge did too!

The Army of Four March 8, 2010 at 12:06 PM  

Marge, you've been making great strides! Keep at it, one step at a time! Trust Sam to keep you safe - and don't let your fears hold you back from your cool adventures!
Tail wags,

Kari in Alaska March 8, 2010 at 1:55 PM  

oh man. I really can feel the sun from the pics. I hope winter doesn't come back!

AC March 8, 2010 at 2:51 PM  

I'm looking forward to seeing how much progress you two have made, come the warmer months. I think that even if it's challenging, the work you've done over the year will show!

Wow, your snow sure melted fast. What a difference from a few posts ago. It's fun to see Marge on the beach.

Have you used Xanax with Marge before? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts/experience with medication.

Oxo March 8, 2010 at 3:52 PM  

i've been following your blog and admire you and marge very much. i have a 60 lb pit mix who suffers from anxiety. we live in harlem and i completely understand how difficult the transition can be from the solitary walks of winter to the busier, noisier, and more fraught walks of the warmer spring & summer months. the difference this weekend was dramatic! skateboarders, strollers, kids, dogs, bikers, and hangers-around and all within steps of our apartment building. but i must say that i agree wholeheartedly with KB above who suggests that you might want to re-think your choice of vet if he or she is slow to prescribe a calming medication for marge. my dog Oxo has responded well to Prozac and has taken it daily for almost four years. it's helped *a lot*. we went to the behavior vets at Upenn for the diagnosis but our local vet is wonderfully understanding too and has no qualms in helping us make adjustments as necessary. lots of people have problems around anti-anxiety medications, whether for humans or canines but that does not mean that this class of medication won't work. i will continue to watch your progress and wish you and marge a splendid summer of hiking in the woods. regards, Oxo in Harlem

Natasha March 8, 2010 at 6:24 PM  

I hope all goes well for you and Marge in the coming months! I know you'll do the best for her. Keep up the great work. :) You'll get through the warm weather's challenges and before you know it, it'll be the quiet winter again!

In the summer I don't walk Mika during certain times of the day when there are lots of dogs to react at and people to bark at...too much for her. Like Marge, though, she is improving steadily!

PICKETTTTTTTT April 6, 2010 at 11:38 PM  

Hi Sam and Marge!

I'm Jen, Stella's Mama and we're here because everyone has been telling us how much Stella looks like Marge. It's UNCANNY.

As for Marge's anxiety I definitely agree with everything everyone has said in regards to possibly switching vets and also how leary doctors are to prescribe benzos (Xanax, Ativan etc) whether for humans or animals. One thing we've used on previous dogs is benadryl. The antihystamine is usually enough to chill most doggies out depending on size and moreover metabolism. If you haven't got anywhere with your vet or have more questions, feel free to email me at pastyjen AT msn DOT com

Hope this finds you both well!

-Jen and Stella-spaz

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