Yesterday, Rob and I took Maggie to the vet for weight loss and increased anxiety. We had a long talk with the vet about her behavior. She had been increasingly showing more and more aggressive behavior, things like lunging from the porch at moms and toddlers on the street, barking at people and animals (she has never been a barker), growling at us in the house when surprised, whining and pacing all day, and trembling violently for no reason. We noticed that the severity and frequency of these things started picking up around Christmas time, and have had conversations off and on about the safety of the baby in a house with an unpredictable dog. We tried Xanax as an anti-anxiety medicine to help curb her fear and her behavior, but what we found was that if she didn’t receive the medication every four hours on the dot, she would have rebound anxiety that was more severe than the original behavior. In essence, it wasn’t working.
So. We talked with the vet about what we had noticed, including the weight loss and the anxiety, and asked if there was something physical that could be increasing her aggressive behavior because she was in pain. He put her on the scale and found that she had only lost a half pound (even though she looked skinnier than that!). He said that he felt that her behavior was more from a deep-seated emotional problem than a physical one — that she is by nature an anxious dog. (We could have told him that! It probably stems from potential abuse she suffered before Rob got her.) His concern was that not only had the anxiety behaviors increased, but that she was showing more aggressiveness along with it. We asked about other medication that might help her overcome this behavior (read: Prozac), and he said that oftentimes with psychotropic meds in animals, the behavior becomes even more unpredictable, because the dog can lose her inhibitions and lash out. He said that if it were his family, he would not want to bring a baby into the house and risk harm to the child. Basically, he confirmed what we were already feeling. We were scared to bring the baby home and take a chance that Maggie would do something, either purposefully because she was scared of the baby, or by accident because she was nervous about something else.
This morning, Rob took Maggie to the vet to be put to sleep. (I didn’t go, because I learned with Eppie that I don’t handle it well, and I have to stay Zen. I can hardly write about it, let alone be there.) He said it went really well, considering, and that she died very quickly. She was a very good girl at the vet, didn’t bark at the other dogs, and didn’t whine when the doctor came into the room.
She had steak for dinner last night and slept in our room next to our bed, which is normally verboten.
We are very sad today. For all of the complaining I have done about the dogs over the years, it was a privilege to be their step-mom. 🙂 They were wonderful dogs and did bring lots of joy to our home with their crazy quirks and cute little mannerisms. We know that they are happy in doggy heaven, free from the pain and anxiety that plagued them in their last months. Someday, there will be other dogs in our home, but they will never replace Eppie and Maggie in our hearts.