Friday, January 8, 2010

Project Briscoe: The Beginning

I met with the Best-Friends-approved trainer for nearly 2 hours one night at my house. We talked about Briscoe, his environment, his behaviors – the good and not so good. We agreed that he is a smart dog and oh-so cute. She tested him very subtly by looking him in the eye. This usually resulted in him barking nervously at her with a lot of unfortunate enthusiasm. His nervousness with a new person in the house is a behavior I have noticed and been saddened by over the last few months. Add it to the list of issues.

I am still reading through the paperwork the trainer left with me: suggestions to improve his diet, get him tested for possible medical conditions and keep his brain busy. Separation Anxiety is an issue that cannot be solved with a sudden "Tssst!" and touch to the shoulder, unfortunately. I often watch your show and even auditioned, Cesar, but yours will not be my way.

The mealtime switch is underway with a little tummy discomfort. One suggestion the trainer made was to focus on keeping Briscoe’s brain busy with chews, toys and problem-solving. (So, yeah, he’s doing my taxes this year). I have invested in a variety of chews and items to stuff in his beloved kongs – in addition to his meals. No more placing his food in the bowl and serving it to him with a happy 'take it!', he must now work for it by nudging around his red kong toy with his nose. A busy dog is a happy well-fed dog at my house.

Another item looming over me the past week was the question of whether Briscoe has hypothyroidism. This is a fairly common occurrence in dogs and can lead to many unfortunate side effects, including increased anxiety. The trainer recommended an out of town lab that specializes in thyroid testing, so I took her suggestion. I had my vet’s office take the blood sample and shipped the vial off, I anxiously awaited the results. I received the results today: "thyroid levels are adequate overall”. {thud} Is it bad that I kind of hoped my dog had this medical condition?

Don't worry, fans of Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, one of his counts is far below the appropriate range which can reflect a concurrent health problem, so I will discuss this matter further with the veterinarian and find out what the next step might be. As long as it is forward, I am ready.


Ali said...

You are the best mommy a dog could ask for! We're rooting for you (especially Luna)!

Melissa said...

How about placing his treats in a "Find it" container right before you leave? Might that occupy him long enough until he calms down? Does his separation anxiety persist the entire time you're away, or just the first 30 minutes or so?