He's a natural born beauty. If he were human, he'd be a surfer dude or model, with naturally chiseled features and six-pack abs that he didn't have to work for. Unfortunately, with such beauty comes the heavy price:
Severe car anxiety and extreme pack drive anxiety. Loki always happily and calmly gets into the car, but once we start driving, he goes into a full-on panic attack. And he never stops. It's the kind of anxiety that just makes your heart bleed while simultaneously wanting to reach around the back and smack the crap out of him.
This weekend we took him and Juno on their first road trip to Lugano. I was armed with his new seat belt harness and a bottle of Acepromazine left over from our travel from Zurich airport to Morges back in August. Back then, he didn't need it--probably because Mr. Wild Dingo and I gave him full attention for the 4-hour trip while someone else drove. But 20 minutes into our own 4-hour drive to Lugano, Mr. Wild Dingo and I couldn't take it another minute so we narc'd him.
Even on the ACE, he didn't sleep. He continued to moan and yip lowly as if he desperately wanted to keep going but didn't have the energy.
A well-behaved gentleman all weekend, he sat calmly under cafe tables, walked confidently through busy shopping areas and happily greeted the boisterous Italians who doted on him. But his extreme pack-drive anxiety drove him into small fits of panic when any one of us (Juno included) separated from the pack to go to the bathroom or inside a building. Ironically, his Iron Dog certification involved a 2-minute down-stay-out-of-sight--where I would disappear and he would have to stay in his down. But those tests were on familiar territory.
A home-body, the opposite of Juno's adventurous spirit, Loki prefers his own back yard to adventures in new places. It took weeks for him to go for a walk with me when he first came to live with us.
They say dogs don't have memories. I'm not sure I agree with it. Does the memory of his first owner abandoning him as a puppy by car live in his cellular biology causing conditioned muscular tension and even panic attacks? Perhaps.
But none of that matters. All three of us are going to continue to turn his world upside down. Because it's good for him. And because I'm mean that way.