It would take us (and the vet) some time to find out what was wrong.
A dog with a drinking problem
It all started with Nena having accidents all over the house. Big accidents. Ones we’d step in in the dark on our way to the bathroom.
Then we noticed that she’d drink and drink and drink, emptying up to four or five large bowls of water a day.
We took her to the vets.
The first diagnosis
“Liver or kidneys,” said the vet. “We need a blood test.”
For a week we waited for the results. Then we went back.
“Results look OK,” our vet said. “It might be diabetes.”
The second diagnosis
More tests were carried out. Nena had a long (and uncomfortable) stay at the animal clinic, getting prodded and poked.
But the results came back fine.
“She’s healthy,” the vet shook her head. “There’s only one thing I can think of.”
“What is it?” We asked.
“Any major changes at home recently?”
My husband and I looked at each other, then at the bundle in my arms.
“Well… yes. We’ve just had a baby.””
The vet said the tablets would work in 4 weeks.
She was spot on. After about a month, Nena stopped drinking frantically. She also stopped peeing inside the house.
There were other interesting changes too. Nena had always been anxious, but we’d taken that as part and parcel of living with a rescue dog.
“She’s got baggage like the rest of us,” my brother-in-law said once.
Nena’s past traumas
When I got her in 2003, Nena was really highly strung. She would whimper outside the toilet door when I went to the loo, eat her food in seconds and bark incessantly at anyone new coming in the house.
She gradually relaxed and got much better over the years, but she hated any change. I remember when I moved in with my now husband. Going to live in a new place was really stressful for Nena. It took her a month to settle in and sleep properly at night, and not cry when we left the flat.
Nena has also always been extremely frightened of children. Whenever she hears kids shouting she freaks out and sometimes bears her teeth if children get too close.
Over the years I always put a muzzle on her and kept a close eye when friends came around with kids. This had been a concern when we had our baby.
Two years on
Our son Felix is two years old now. Nena and Felix are best pals.
“Good girl,” Felix pats her on the head. I know I shouldn’t project my human emotions onto a dog, but I swear Nena’s smiling.
Everything has changed. Miracle Prozac. For the first time ever Nena seems relaxed and happy.
What will happen now?
Nena is getting close to 13. She’s getting older and stiffer and blinder by the minute. Her hearing’s gone a bit.
Every once in a while a noise in the house will rouse her up from her nap though, and she’ll wake up and bark randomly in every direction for a while. Then she’ll sigh and continue her nap. It’s like the anxiety is still there a bit, but it’s nothing like it used to be.
“Let’s just see how she gets on,” the vet told us some time ago, when we asked her how long Nena should be on the meds.
Love, training and Prozac
I do honestly wonder if it wouldn’t be kinder to leave Nena on Prozac permanently now.
I feel guilty saying this, because I’ve always been an advocate of training and love first.
Nena has received a lot of both (training and love, that is). Knowing what she was like when I got her in 2003, I’d say they’ve made a HUGE difference. But drugs did something for her that we just couldn’t.
Time (and our vet) will tell. I’m just really glad that in the meantime, she isn’t afraid or anxious anymore. And that my son is getting to love Nena in her golden years, when she’s at her happiest — as drug-induced as it may be!
Yup. Some people laugh and say she is a bit of a loopy dog. But… she is our loopy dog.