Saturday, March 26, 2005

Thunderstorms, fireworks and other things that go BLAM

When it comes to noises like that, I am the proud owner of a Labrador retriever that becomes a quivering mess. He comes by it honestly, but neither his father nor his brother -- both now gone -- were as bad.

Lucky (S.O.B.) Lab would never have cut it as a gun dog but even in a tent with thunderclaps directly overhead that made Da Kid and me jump, the worst he did was tremble until the storm had passed. At home when fireworks went off in the neighborhood or a thunderstorm came through, sometimes turning radios on throughout the house or having the stereo going full blast worked for him. Sometimes it wouldn't. When it didn't, he'd duck under the dining room table.

Neither distraction, whether alone or in combination, worked for Shadow. What did, however, was tossing into the VCR a tape that captured his attention. His favorite was Call of the Wild . . . or anything else filled with endless barks and howls.

(Shadow liked National Geographic specials with birds making massive amounts of noise, too, but that programming was seldom on when he needed it.)

The tricks I'd learned worked with Tank, too, for a while but as he got older — he'll be 12 next month — not as well with each passing year.


Two years ago it came to a head.

During the neighborhood's annual "Let's Blow Stuff Up" (a.k.a. July 4) gathering, I was inside (again) with Tank. But this time, even hours after it was over, he was still quaking and panting so hard, non-stop, I thought sooner or later he was going to having a heart attack.

Da Kid (Da Vet Tech) had talked to Doc before about Tank's increasing reaction to thunder. Doc suggested tranquilizers. The choice we had was whether to knock Tank out completely or just try to "take the edge" off.

Fireworks can be anticipated, but none of us liked the idea of knocking him out. Besides, since we get storms so frequently and often unexpectedly, Tank would have to be medicated 24/7 at least nine months of the year.

We gave the other option — "taking the edge off" — a try for the neighborhood's next, "Let's Blow Stuff Up" gathering: New Year's Eve.

An hour before the fireworks started, Da Kid injected Tank with 100 mg of what Doc had prescribed: Acepromazine.

For four hours after the injection Tank just didn't give a hoot about all the bangs and screamers going off all around us. He was alert, kinda, and very pleasantly stoned.

Way cool, Dudette!

The problem was that the dosage wore off too fast. Tank was . . . uh, coming down while stuff was still blowing up. He'd already had the full dosage in one shot.

This year we went to the oral version of Ace in 25 mg tablets. Instead of the full 100 mg at one time, we gave Tank only 50. Like last year he was alert (but much more so ) yet even with the decreased dosage, still calm. When that began wearing off after about four hours and he started acting a bit anxious, I slipped him another 25 mg tablet.

The major difference between the injection and tablet forms is how quickly Ace begins to work and wears off, the latter being the slower acting and longer lasting. (The tablet form also gave us the ability to regulate the dosage better based on Tank's need.) The overall results, however, were the same.

Something funny happened, too, with Tank's reaction to thunder.

He still doesn't like it, but even with all of last year's bad weather (in addition to the regular stuff, weather systems spawned off of one tropical storm and four hurricanes) none of it caused him the same level of alarm that it used to.

Then again by comparison to the neighborhood's "Let's Blow Stuff Up" gatherings, what could.


Anonymous PJ said...


That is, by far, the coolest name for a dog I've ever heard.

I want to get a dog, but I want a small one, a poodle mix. And I want a female. Somehow I don't think Tank would be a suitable name for a small female dog. But it is just so damned cool.

7:58 PM  

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