We have the perfect dog for our family, a 15 month old English cream Golden Retriever named Lexi. We have had her for a year now, and seen her grow into the sweetest dog ever. She house-trained beautifully, learned simple commands easily, and couldn’t be more loving. Lexi has always been perfect in every way until… she ate our wall. Really, she ate a hole in a flat wall, drywall and all.
On the night of the incident, my husband and I were in the office and she was laying right outside of the door, happily chewing on her Nylabone, or so I thought. I heard her cough and something told me things were not all right. I walked out of my office to see her standing at the wall, with drywall on her nose. Beside her was the hole, a gaping hole in our wall. I was in shock.
After searching the internet for all kinds of reasons she could have done this, I decided it would be a good idea to rule out any medical issue. The next day I took Lexi for a full exam and blood work-up. The vet said she looked great, and agreed that it seemed totally out of character for her. She said maybe the blood tests would show something helpful. Later that evening, a Friday night no less, she called back and went through all her numbers. “Essentially,” she said, “your dog is perfect medically. I think this is a behavioral issue. I can give her something like doggy Prozac that would definitely curtail that kind of behavior. A lot of dogs take it, and it is perfectly safe.” No way, I thought. This is the first time our young dog had done anything like this! To her credit, the vet also recommended a dog trainer that specialized in behavior issues, but suggested we wait until another incident happened. She suggested that this may be the only time something like this happens.
We decided that we would handle this episode much like we would if it were one of our children. Pay close attention to her and figure out if there is anything else going on that we aren’t aware of and might need help with. We won’t opt for medicating her unless it becomes an extreme situation and only if all other options fail. I don’t think this will be the case.
This whole experience made me think about how often in our society young children are medicated. I am no expert on this by any means, but I did hear the recent reports about the study documenting how in the past very young children were medicated and research showed that this wasn’t always in the best interest for their overall development. I am sure there are times that it is medically necessary for a child to be medicated, but I wonder how many children could benefit from alternatives. Maybe more opportunities to be outside and move their bodies, explore, and connect with the world around them might be helpful.
Like I said, I am no expert, but I know with our dog, she listens much better and is more attentive once I have taken her on her long walk in the morning. Maybe there is a nugget to consider in that example.