Recently we took Kasey to the vet’s office while we went on a weekend trip. When we returned the vet reported that Kasey had been very anxious during her stay — so anxious that they actually had to give her some kind of sedative to calm her down. One symptom of her stress was that when the vet’s assistants would try to walk her, she would constantly tug them toward the road, as if she wanted to return home.
Of course, this news made us feel like crap — nobody wants to hear that the canine member of their family is suffering from anxiety issues — but it also leaves us with tough and limited choices. Although it is increasingly common for people to travel with their dogs these days, we can’t take Kasey along every time we go on a trip. We can’t take her everywhere we go, and leaving her alone in a hotel room seems like a recipe for disaster. We’ve had her stay at our house with a dog sitter who stops by a few times a day for some of our short trips, but that approach often produces accidents. We’ve taken her to the vet, where the anxiety issues have occurred, and we’ve boarded her at kennels, but those stays seem to leave Kasey sleep-deprived and exhausted. Kasey is an old dog, and the constant barking you hear whenever you visit one of those kennels seems to really bother her.
People used to talk about “a dog’s life,” as if the leisurely romping and dozing we associate with pooches was the kind of lifestyle we should all aspire to, but researchers have found that dogs in fact deal with lots of issues. Many dogs have serious problems with separation anxiety when their owners leave the house; others are high-strung and have delicate constitutions thanks to the constant inbreeding needed to produce the latest designer dog. Some dogs take daily medication for psychological issues, which really makes you wonder: what does it say when our modern society is to the point where there is a significant issue with dogs being over-medicated for mental conditions?
I’m not sure what we’re going to do with Kasey when we travel; we’ve got a while before we both have to be out of town again. I do know this: I’m willing to accept a few accidents on the carpet if that means she doesn’t have to be sedated.