Who’s the good dog? Solutions to problem pet behaviors
One Sunday last month, the sun had barely risen when I was awakened by a banging on my front door. As I cautiously looked out the side window I could make out my neighbor, Mr. Velez, standing there and looking quite upset. “I don’t know what happened last night, but your dog kept barking and kept us up all night, and we do have to work in the morning!” Before I could even try to respond, Mr. Velez stormed off huffing, puffing, and pouting. Actually, he was puffing on his new electronic cigarette that he was so proud to show off to everyone the previous week. My dog Duke somehow knew we were talking about him, and his ears were pointing at the door with a quizzical look on his face. “Duke, were you the bad dog causing problems in the neighborhood?! Stop it and behave!” I told him, although I didn’t quite believe it was him since he had been inside for most of the night.
The following evening I was the one who heard barking outside, and it sounded just like Duke! He has a distinct, deep “voice” which can usually be heard letting us know when he wants back inside. I quickly threw some shoes on and ran outside to see what was going on. To my surprise I saw a dog the size of Duke, the same type of mixed breed, same color, and the same fur, but it was not Duke. I realized there was an imposter in the adjacent yard! Seems the new neighbors have a dog that they let out all hours of the night, and he’s been the one getting Duke and I in trouble with all the other neighbors. Something had to be done, and quickly.
I walked up to the new neighbor’s house the next Monday after getting home from work and was greeted by a very nice lady who looked surprised by my visit. As soon as I explained the situation with her dog barking, her eyes filled up with tears and she began to cry. She went on to tell me (between her tears and hiccups) that her dog “Ruff” suffers from some sort of old dog senile condition that causes him to constantly bark and vocalize, and the condition had been getting progressively worse. For the past year she had been struggling with the idea of having Ruff put down, but she couldn’t bring herself to go through with it.
Over the years she had lovingly treated Ruff for his arthritis with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, his chronic eye infection with ophthalmic drops, and his frequent bladder infections with antibiotics. She didn’t think that anything could be done for an aging dog’s mental health, so she was afraid to make the trip to the veterinarian’s office, certain she would receive bad news. There has to be a solution I thought; then I told her about a veterinarian whom I had just spoken with a few weeks earlier and who told me that dog and cat mental health and other diseases of old age is something that most veterinarian are very familiar with, and that most of these conditions are treatable.
Cautiously hopeful, my neighbor took Ruff to the veterinarian who prescribed a drug called selegiline which has shown promise in treating pets with senility. Within a week Ruff was nearly back to his old self – at least mentally – and the barking had almost completely stopped. Duke regained his title as Good Dog, and we had peace restored to the neighborhood, at last!
As always, if your pet is not feeling well, even if there seems to be no solution to the problem, a visit to the veterinarian could be just what is needed. Veterinarians are trained to recognize illnesses early and to treat conditions that can cause both the pet and the owner great pain and in some cases embarrassment. For your medication related questions a 1800PetMeds Pharmacist is also available to answer those for you.