Dog lovers generally like or love Loki when they first meet him. They're fooled by his charm. Even Bernard, our kennel keeper, had a mile-wide smile the first day he met him. "He's well-trained," he said. But that was before he chose to live with the whacka-cracker while we vacation.
The last time we picked up the dogs after vacation, Bernard was so exhausted from Loki's crackerdom, that he literally told us there wouldn't be a kennel in all of Switzerland that would take him for 2,000 Swiss Francs per day. Those were his exact words. He also said that putting him in a caged kennel would probably be the worst thing for him, so, he would make the sacrifice for us and all the other kennel keepers in Switzerland and take Loki again. I swear to Dog, Internet, those were his words.
Now I don't like my dog causing anyone any trouble. While he is pleasant with all the other dogs and people at the kennel, my whacka-cracker sends himself into a certifiable self-induced breakdown when I leave him anywhere but in our own home without me. I really wrestled with how to deal with this knowing that the Shen Calmer would only help his anxiety on a very small level. So I did what I had to do.
"I'm not whack! I'm just misunderstood!"
I narc'd him. I slipped him the 'ole mickey in his peanut butter morning treat before taking him and Juno to Bernard's. Then I gave Bernard three extra pills "just in case." I wrestled with that decision also, having recently read how vet techs often over-medicate a dog for barking too much. What's the point of leaving the dog if you have to narc the dog every day? Thankfully, Bernard was really quite responsible. The first day Loki was "like a different dog," said Bernard, "then I remembered you gave him the sedative." The next day, Loki started his crying, barking, jumping and scratching at the door again. Remember, this is Bernard's home, not a cage and Loki has claws that damage nice doors. So Bernard tried a half of sedative. When it didn't work, he gave him another half. It worked. By day three, "He was perfect and didn't need anymore. It was like he lived here his entire life." Bernard gave me back the other two pills and said he was welcome back and we could use the sedative if we needed it in the beginning of each stay.
Just like Loki's other anxious behaviors, the more he practices them, the more they escalate and the worse they get each time. Which is probably why it wasn't until his last stay there that Bernard finally complained about it. When we first adopted Juno, Loki had a nasty habit of biting her scruff after the leashes came from our daily walk. Not that scruff biting is so bad, but we all recognized it for what it was and none of us, especially Juno, appreciated it. It was anxiety release and Juno hated it. So I simply wouldn't let him practice it anymore. I would release Juno then sit with him for about a minute, calmly telling him he was good before I allowed him to calmly walk away. Months later, I could release him at the same time as Juno and the behavior was gone. Behavioral psychologists call it "extinguishing" behavior.
"Grass sure makes me calm." Sure, he looks angelic now...
I have some hope that lightly sedating him the first day or so at Bernard's will reset his association with Bernard's to be a whacka-cracker. I'm not sure if it will work the same way as extinguishing his other anxiety-based behaviors. But what the hell--it's worth a try. I'm also not daft when it comes to Loki. I know how smart he is. He could easily just go the opposite direction and anticipate the sedative and fight its effects. So as far as I'm concerned, he's still on probation when it comes to leaving him at Bernard's dog spa and camp.
"Crack is whack!"
Using pharmaceuticals for anxious behavior is neither something I recommend nor do on a regular basis. But I promise you Internet, if you had him for 5 minutes without me present, you'd beg for that narc.
One for him. And two for you.
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