Goodness, it’s been too long since I wrote a post here, for that I apologise, the only reason being I’m immersed now in writing my next book and have been juggling time and commitments. No excuse to neglect the blog though and I’m remedying that now and have adjusted some priorities.
Time for a Twinkle update and a note on a herbal remedy we’ve been trying: it doesn’t seem possible but she’s now been with us 19 months and is a different dog to when she first arrived with us, terrified of her own bark, of us, of everyone in fact. These days she is the one who does most barking at home, although rarely outside. Her barking is highly expressive and over the time we’ve spent together we’ve learnt to understand her better. We don’t always get it right, but mostly we think we have a mutual understanding. Her barking is frequently to hurry me up with the food prep, or, hurry me up bringing her night-time biscuits to bed, or hurry me up to open the door if I’ve been out. In fact, most of her barking – at me – is to get me to do something more quickly. Where Susie-Belle is patient, Twinkle is resolutely not.
She is still alarmingly skittish at times if she’s startled, but we adapt our world around her to keep her feeling safe and secure and avoid unexpected changes as much as we can. She has a series of routines that so long as we keep to, she’s pretty content. For example, she’s only comfortable having her harness and collar put on if she’s sat herself down somewhere safe; at home this is usually her bed, occasionally she’ll pop herself down on the kitchen floor, or patio, but if I attempt to put it on before she’s sat and ready, off she flies in a panic and it can be ten minutes before she calms herself again. It’s been quite a while though since we’ve had to abandon it because she couldn’t settle enough.
She’s happy out and about and enjoys the company of other dogs and we’ve been committed to meeting up with friends as much as possible over the past few months. It really helps her to forget her worries when she’s enjoying time with others dogs.
Before we went to France for the summer, I decided I would try her on a herbal preparation: scullcap and valerian, something that I’ve long been aware of, but have held off giving her until now as I didn’t want to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at her initially in my attempts to help her. I’m glad I’ve waited as I have clearly seen the benefits now to giving her the scullcap & valerian tablets from Dorwest.
With a Masters degree in herbal medicine, I know the science behind the preparation and have long appreciated the traditional use of these herbs but to witness the effectiveness with Twinkle has been pleasing. Previously I’ve felt that she is so complex, and the psychological damage the puppy farm has caused her is so deep it would be asking a lot of the tablets to have much effect. I wanted to know that alongside the herbal approach, we were working effectively with her in terms of us adapting to her needs so she could learn how to live a normal life with us. Something she has never had the chance until 19months ago. I’m glad we waited to start the scullcap/valerian mix as I’m utterly convinced that by giving her the daily dose, it allows her nervous system to settle sufficiently for her to be able to work through some of the anxieties that persistently plague her. She is far more responsive to us, and we can almost see her psyche working past an instinctive reaction as she would have before, allowing enough of a calmness to settle for her to change her behaviour.
I feel we could have started it sooner with her, but the important thing is that now she’s on it, it’s making a significant difference alongside all else we do for and with her. It’s certainly not going to be a cure-all and may not be of much help to some dogs, but for Twinkle, it’s great. It’s making a powerful contribution to her well being and for now we’ll keep her on it.