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Cricket is on Prozac


 

A few weeks ago, when I was getting fed up with the overwhelming balls of goop under Cricket’s eyes, I went to pick her up to address the problem and she bit my hand, twisting the skin with her teeth. The pain was extraordinary.

Cricket has a prescription for ACE, the doggy version of Xanax, for her trips to the groomer, but clearly, she needed more help. So for this year’s check up with her veterinarian, I planned to ask what else we could try.

I think this was Cricket’s first solo outing since we brought Butterfly home almost a year ago. When she realized that we were on our way to the car, without her sister, Cricket was jumping and skipping with glee. She loved being an only dog again, even for a little while.

Back when Cricket was an only puppy.

Back when Cricket was an only puppy.

She wasn’t as thrilled when we reached the vet’s office, though. She sat on my lap, and then behind my legs, and then she jumped up on Grandma’s lap and started all over again.

There is a bird in the waiting room at the vet’s office who is as much of a scratchy glutton as Cricket. He’s a parrot. An African Grey, I think. He stands in his cage and rings a bell to get attention. When Cricket moved over to Grandma’s lap, I said Hello to the bird and he walked over to my side of the cage and bowed his head for scratching. It was a strange feeling to scratch through feathers. They were soft and small around his head, and I worried that I was pulling them off as I scratched. But when I backed off, he bit the cage and cried and re-bowed his head insistently. He was really quite demanding. And regal. He bowed his head with noblesse oblige, as if to say, I accept your tribute, oh, dog person.

A noble bird, named "Boopy."

A noble bird, named “Boopy.”

"You may scratch my neck."

“You may scratch my neck.”

"Where do you think you're going?"

“You are acceptable.”

I had to leave him behind when we were called into the exam room, and he rang the bell to try and call me back. I was quickly distracted, though, because Cricket was busily looking for a place to hide, and when she couldn’t find one, she asked to be picked up. I tried to hold her in my arms, but she climbed behind my neck and stood on my shoulders, gripping my hair for dear life.

"Help me!"

“Help me!”

The vet is used to her, and her kind. He always has to call in one of the vet techs to hold Cricket in place while he takes her blood and gives her shots. God forbid they have to clip her nails or remove hair from her ears, but we didn’t have to deal with that trauma this time, so I won’t think about it.

When I asked the vet about Cricket’s anxiety issues, he recommended a trial of Prozac. I’ve been putting off asking for such a thing for years. I hoped training would help, or that Cricket would just grow out of it, or that Butterfly would help calm her down, but nothing has really worked.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m less concerned about her behavior and more worried about how she feels. She doesn’t enjoy barking and being on guard all the time. She often looks grumpy and depressed, and worried. I’d love to be able to make a dent in that for her.

The vet said that, other than the crazy, Cricket is in wonderful health. All of the anxiety and barking certainly keeps her weight down.

When we got back home, Butterfly had to do a full sniffing investigation to find out where Cricket had been. There were a few odd smells, like the rubbing alcohol where the doctor took blood, and the faint smell of bird, but Butterfly was satisfied, both that Cricket was unharmed and that Butterfly had not missed out on anything good.

"Cricket has passed the smell test."

“Cricket has passed the smell test.”

Every morning now, Cricket takes her Prozac in a piece of sausage, and while she enjoys the sausage, I think what she likes most is that Butterfly doesn’t get a piece of her own. We’ve discovered that people food makes Butterfly pee in the house. Maybe if we could find a medication to stop the pee, Butterfly could have morning sausage treats too.

But Cricket would not like that.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

90 responses »

  1. Poor Cricket! Poor Cricket’s person! I hope that the Prozac helps.

    Reply
    • Me too. I wonder if they have Doggy psychiatrists, in case she needs something more exotic than Prozac.

      Reply
      • Gabi has gone for doggy acupuncture twice for her back, which spasms when she gets too tense. It seems to help, and she appears to get a calm from it much like mine when I go to the acupuncturist.
        I’ve thought about asking the vet about meds for anxiety for her, because she’s very anxious (lick, lick, lick) (not surprising when she spent a big chunk of her little life working in a puppy mill.)
        good luck!

      • I’m pretty sure the acupuncturist would find herself full of holes if she tried to treat Cricket with needles. Cricket thinks the answer is more chicken treats. And if that doesn’t work, try more chicken treats.

      • Aha. Well, who knows? Chicken treats are yummy. Gabi thinks that if she could just once lick my tonsils everything would be better, but I have so far resisted all attempts.

  2. They’re like kids, aren’t they? A friend’s dog has the same reaction with her trying to clean her dogs eyes of goop. I’m curious to see how Cricket does on the med. Wishing you and her good luck.

    Reply
  3. Yes, we all hope that Prozac will ease Cricket’s mind, although I have to say mind-altering meds haven’t worked well for The Red Man’s anxiety in the past. Paw Licker Annie also took Xanax for her OCD, but that didn’t really solve those problems. Hm…I sense that I am being a Debbie Downer for you so I will stop digging farther into this hole. I’m sure you’ll have better luck…:)

    Reply
  4. Whenever Kaci or I have to go to the vet, the other comes also. It helps that sometimes we go and don’t get poked or bothered. The vet and the techs expect us both when one has an appointment-we always bring moral support. Consequently, they think we’re both pretty calm for terriers.

    Reply
    • That sounds great. Butterfly would love to have her sister with her all the time, but I’m not sure Cricket would find that especially relaxing. Maybe if I could convince the vet to let the parrot come into the exam room with us, or better yet,a cat. Cricket loves the black cat at the groomer’s. the cat sits on the end of the grooming table while she’s getting her hair done, and things go much more smoothly.

      Reply
  5. Poor Cricket. The first part of her life sounds so traumatic. She’s lucky to have you.

    Reply
    • It’s funny. Cricket has had a very stable life, and has the anxiety issues. Whereas Butterfly, with her traumatic life at the puppy mill, has a huge capacity for peace. They are a big argument for the genetic influence on mental health. unless Butterfly’s calm is just a huge sigh of relief that will last, hopefully, for the rest of her life.

      Reply
      • I’m a firm believer that environment, personality and circumstance have a lot to do with the varying degrees of mental illness. I also believe that anyone over the age of 5 is made mentally ill by cultural “norms” (thus the varying degrees of mental illness).

        Please let us know if you find a successful way to help Cricket through this time in her life. It could be helpful to others.

  6. your posts are just so human and wonderful ( even though they focus on a dog) a sweet one of course. what you are doing is important. keep doing it please.

    Reply
  7. Curious to see if Prozac works. A bit of calm for Cricket would be good 😉

    Reply
  8. Hope the meds sort Cricket out and don’t make her dopey. Poor both of you – Im sure things will improve:)

    Reply
    • She gets dopey, and then really angry about it, when she takes the doggy Xanax, so I’m hoping the Prozac will be a better alternative. Poor Cricket, she just heard a noise (that I could not hear at all) and went running, and sliding, to the front door to complain.

      Reply
  9. Good for you, to give prozac a chance! You have tried everything under the sun so why not this and see if the poor girl calms down an becomes happier.

    Reply
  10. What a lovely insight into Cricket’s life 🙂
    The once over by Butterfly made me smile….with each sniff you can imagine a ‘where have you been?’ ‘What have you been doing?”who did you meet?’

    Reply
    • The sweetest thing is how these two girls have really become sisters. Every once in a while they sniff noses and I know they are whispering secrets to each other that they don’t want me to hear.

      Reply
  11. Bless the little love – what a lot she has had to endure. I hope she goes from strength to strength!

    Reply
  12. We so hope that the Prozac helps to calm sweet Cricket. I know it would be greatly welcomed by both her and you. Lots of hugs and nose kisses we leave for you and her.

    Reply
  13. Carrie Reinking

    Could you look for a good behavioralist/trainer/coach in your area? Maybe Cricket’s anxiousness could be abated with more mental activity through training. My dog was
    showing similar signs and has benefited from our participation in group training classes.
    Dog cannot seen to hold on to anxiety when busy with downs, sits, stays & recalls. Love to you and Cricket!

    Reply
    • Thank you. Unfortunately, Cricket’s anxiety actually ratcheted up in her training classes. Even her second teacher, who was very clear and understanding, couldn’t help Cricket calm down.

      Reply
  14. Poor Cricket I do hope the prozac helps ..to have such an understanding mummy helps so much. Hugs
    Sheila xx

    Reply
  15. Anxiety is a huge problem in small dogs and I hope that Cricket will mellow out on the Prozac. I still have a struggle with Luz Maria at times, but as she has aged she has calmed down considerably. Our issues are still with frenzied barking at anyone who walks past our house or, God forbid, comes to the door. She is a work in progress as is your Cricket. Makes life interesting, doesn’t it? 😉

    Reply
  16. Poor Cricket! 😦 Is Prozac in any way detrimental to dogs’ health? I have a hyperactive Japanese Spitz named Mochi, and I’m having a very difficult time dealing with him because I was so used to my Chi-Apso Toffee who’s extremely well-behaved (sometimes I think she’s human).

    Reply
    • Any kind of medication has it’s downside, which is why we waited so long to try this route. But her anxiety really takes a toll on her and if I can relieve some of that pressure, I’d like to do that. Butterfly, my Lhasa Apso, has a completely different temperament, probably like your Toffee. Though she does like to add a bark or two when Cricket starts to howl.

      Reply
  17. You have to do what’s best for your girl! Hopefully, the Prozac helps turn her anxiety down to a manageable level! Love from another Prozac user!

    Reply
  18. How much outside time do the canines get each day, is their a yard to play in, do they go for walks every day. If you cannot walk these dogs twice a day outside yourself, you may want to hire a dog walker. I would start walking twice a day for up to an hour each walk.
    I have done this for anxiety canines for the last 13 years and it makes a big difference in their
    behaviors. Use a harness, short leash and have they walk at your side to start with.

    Reply
    • I keep wishing Cricket could tolerate the treadmill. But we tried the exercise route for years, doing two or three miles a day, and it didn’t change the anxiety. She loved it, though. She’s a fan of almost every kind of exercise, everything but swimming.

      Reply
  19. I hope the meds will help Cricket. I cross my paws. The experience with the parrot was very interesting, wish I had one :o)

    Reply
  20. Poor Cricket. We hope the meds help. One of my small parrots is named Crickett!! And, yes, African Greys are very demanding! It’s all about them and nothing else ( I have 2)

    Reply
  21. Aww bless! We hope Cricket is ok and the Prozac helps. Max has finally settled down again, after having his brother stay for a week, he was really jealous!

    Reply
  22. hello cricket its dennis the vizsla dog hay do not wurry abowt having to be on prozac i hav ben tayking it for almost too yeerz now in the form of reconcile and it has helpd me with my wide rayndjing anxiety and post pawmatik stress disorder sumtimes trayning is just not enuf and owr brayns need a littel bit of ekstra help!!! ok bye

    Reply
  23. This is too funny! I love reading about the sisters’ interactions. Hilarious.

    Reply
  24. How apropos – a vet visit. I’m going to have to call my vet first thing in the morning and beg an early morning emergency visit for my little Marble. He’s been throwing up since Saturday morning and now the former “kitten who could eat Cleveland”won’t eat anything and if he takes a few bites, throws it right up. I hope he didn’t eat something he shouldn’t have and now has an obstruction won’t eat.
    This will be his first visit to the vet since I got him from the rescue group two months ago.

    Hope Cricket is now a calm laid back dog! 🙂

    Reply
    • Cricket has not transformed yet. Actually, she was throwing up last night, coughing and hacking and sounding like she had pneumonia. I barely survived it, but she’s fine now and thinks she deserves extra treats, as usual. I hope your little Marble is okay. Sending good wishes.

      Reply
  25. napperscompanion

    Great idea! I’m going to start taking my Zoloft in a piece of sausage every morning. Peace, John

    Reply
  26. Your dogs are adorable! It was fun to read about the parrot, too, and how it interacted with you. Good to know that Cricket’s in great health, though, despite her anxiousness. Have you ever heard of thunder shirts for dogs? My vet once recommended it to me because my dog is afraid of garbage trucks when it’s near and it’s supposed to help with fear and anxiety. They were a bit expensive when my vet first introduced the shirts to me, so I didn’t get them and don’t really know for sure if they work. I’ll probably try it out for my dog one day, but I hope the Prozac helps for Cricket!

    Reply
  27. I used to have a little white dog that needed medication every day, but the vet told me to use only a tiny, tiny piece of sausage since he said it contained onion. Perhaps he was being over-cautious, I don’t know. I know she liked it, though. 🙂

    Reply
  28. Just curious, have you ever taken Xanax yourself?

    Because let me tell you. It’s not that great. You feel really chill, but uncontrollably so, sleepy, and I have found that the next day I don’t remember things I did while I was on it anymore, yeah… Kinds sucks.

    Reply
  29. I had my sister’s Beagle for the last three years of his life, his name was Tuck. We loved him so much. When he lived with my sister in N.Y.C he was on Prozac, N.Y was too much for him, poor lamb. When he came to the boondocks of Blandford, he calmed down enough where he no longer needed Prozac, doesn’t mean that he instantly loved his neighbor.lol He was challenging but he was worth it. Aren’t we lucky to have our little pooches?:)

    Reply
  30. This is a great post. My sister’s cat is on Prozac as well….

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  31. Great post Rachel-I really resisted meds for Anna and Jack Henry,but finally gave in this year. Both suffer from anxiety and Like you, I kept thinking that we could do this through training-but it did not work-the jury is still out on Jack Henry-but Anna who was rescued from a mill has made tremendous (for her) progress-good luck!

    Reply
  32. I hope it helps! I have a nervous dog and the vet for years thought we might need meds, but it was adding the second dog that finally really helped. I hope this will be what works for her and she can “stand down” a bit. Good luck, Cricket!

    Reply
  33. Awww poor Cricket! Hope the Prozac helps!

    Reply
  34. Lovely writing! And thank you, Rachel, for liking “A Kind of Heaven.” Coming from a dog person like yourself, that’s a real compliment!

    Reply
  35. When I have to take her out or when thunder is forecast I have to medicate Chienne with APC. This calms her down long enough for the storm to pass. I watch Cricket and Butterfly with interest – my Little Man is a Maltese Terrorist.

    Reply
  36. So how is Cricket doing now that she has been on Prozac for a few weeks?

    Reply
  37. That’s an interesting post. I’m quite an anxious nervous dog since my new sister Ellie arrived. I jump and woof at the slightest noise and I make poor Ellie quiver and shake with my big sister behaviour. I really did prefer being an only dog. But I was pretty upset when Pickle the cat came to live with us… but now we get on just fine… so mum’s hoping I’ll be better when Ellie is a bit more grown up and not such a little pest. Ellie irritates me no end with all her writhing around at my feet trying to make me like her, I snarl even though I know I shouldn’t. I like it when I go out on my own and we leave the pest at home.
    I hope Cricket is getting on okay on the prozac… at least it comes with a treat.

    Reply
  38. Poor Cricket! I hope your baby girl is doing better and that the Prozac is helping.

    Reply

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