Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The morning after

At 7:30 last night, just before dark and just after the first big blast of 4th of July fireworks, I drugged my dogs. The vet had prescribed Acepromazine, “two tablets as needed.” I didn’t know how long it would take for the sedative effects to kick in, and I wanted Butch and Kadi to be relaxed before the worst of the noise began.

Fifteen minutes after he’d had two bites of sedative-laced ice cream, Butch walked to a throw rug where he sleeps sometimes, lifted one front paw and teetered on his other three legs, then plopped down and went into a deep sleep. Kadi, who’s 10 pounds heavier, was sitting on the sofa at that time, her head hanging and the tip of her tongue protruding between her teeth. She rolled her eyes to look at me as if to say, “I’m feeling really weird right now; something’s not right.”

Kadi didn’t sleep except for about five minutes over the next three hours. She did lie down, but her eyes were mostly open and her ears twitched in response to every explosion we heard. Except for some mild panting, she didn’t display any of the panicky responses she usually does. I could never be certain if she was actually less afraid than usual, or if she was just too far out of it to respond physically to her fears.

About 20 minutes after Butch went to sleep on the rug, he woke again and tried to move to his big yellow pillow, but he could hardly walk. His legs were wobbling and literally slipping out from under him, so he half-walked/half-crawled to his pillow, then conked out again. That worried me.

The next time he woke up and tried to walk, I picked him up (not an easy task) and put him on the opposite end of the sofa Kadi was on, then I sat between them to keep a close eye on them. Butch, the little sweetheart, whipped his drunken head around and gave my face about a dozen slobbery kisses, then passed out again.

By 10:00 p.m. they were both awake but still under the influence. The fireworks noises had dwindled significantly and Kadi hesitatingly went outside with me to take care of her urinary needs. I tried to take Butch out, too, but he was still fairly wobbly, and Kadi wouldn’t let him go in the backyard. She stood just outside the door, barking right into his face, backing him deeper and deeper into the den. I admire her determination to save us all, but it can get annoying when she overreacts.

I let Kadi back inside and penned her by herself in the living room (my son-in-law built me a decorative indoor picket fence, just for that purpose) and tried again to get Butch to go into the backyard, but he wouldn’t budge. I attached a long lead to his collar and tried to lead (okay, drag) him outside with that, but he twisted and resisted and slipped out of his collar–-twice.

In a last-ditch effort, I got out his serious “going-places” leash, the one with the choke-chain collar that he can’t slip. As soon as he heard that leash jangling, he staggered over and waited by the door that leads to the driveway. For some reason I can't fathom, he always seems to find the fireworks in the sky over the driveway less frightening than those in the sky over the backyard. Go figure. Anyway, he finally did his business and we all went to bed.

I feel wonderful today, much better than I usually do on the morning of July 5th. Butch and Kadi seem a little hungover, but they’re perking up as the day goes on. I think the medication helped, but I still don't feel good about doing that to them.

Note: The photo at the top of this post was taken on an earlier date, when Kadi and Butch were not drugged. This just happens to be one of Butch's favorite sleeping positions.


  1. I'm glad you all made it through without much trouble! Spot paced and panted so hard I thought his tongue was going to fall out. It's so frustrating not being able to tell them it'll be OK. I'm definitely going to ask for tranks next time we see the vet.

    Tonight, just as it got dark he started acting nervous and paced and checked out the sky from the back door, I think he expects a repeat of last night. He seems to be relaxing now, I hope nobody sets off a firecracker at 11:00.

  2. In Little Rock there were far fewer blasts of fireworks than in previous years. I don't know if that's due to increased police messages about fines or because the kids across the street are growing up. Whatever, my little dog was only occasionally concerned about the noise.

    I've found that if I take him to bed with me he doesn't freak out. I guess he associates that spot with sleeping.

    Another interesting story. Velvet.

  3. I've used ace a lot with horses who suffered from situational anxiety like trailer riding. It's not a bad drug, you probably just need to adjust the dosage with Butch. Sounds like you could probably get away with half.

    Another thing we've had success with for the dogs is Kava. If it's going to work for them it will work really well, takes the anxiety away without making them drugged. Used consistantly, you might be able to completely rewire the anxiety response and not need anything eventually.
    Carmon and Ellie who is also mildly thunderphobic

  4. I wish the FedEx lady who was greeted at my door by my barking, snarling, vicious-watchdog imposters today could have experienced their "weenie" side as well. Thanks for checking on us, Janet and Annie. And Carmon, thanks for the tips; I'll check into the Kava.

  5. Being Butch would be the life...

  6. Good to hear you all made it through the celebrations Velvet. Although it must have been an anxious moment, you did the right thing. Our dogs wee reduced to nervous wrecks every Guy Fawkes Night, now there are fireworks any time without prior warning. I like to see people having fun but its hard on pets and wildlife.


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