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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thankful for Shyla's Progress but still Hoping for More

Today is Thankful Thursday. I have mixed up feelings about the epilepsy journey that we've been on. On the one hand, I am incredibly grateful that Shyla's seizures are under control.
We are expecting 2-3 FEET of snow over the next couple of days

She can live almost her normal life, and we know how lucky we are that she's able to do that. We know how much more dire things could be. We are filled with gratitude that life is almost normal.
Most of the reason why her seizures are under control is that she's been taking phenobarbital for a couple of months. She hasn't had a seizure since she started it but she had a very hard time adapting to it. First, she was uncoordinated and almost drunken. Then, her enthusiasm for activity went into free fall. She was gradually returning toward normal in the weeks before our trip to the Utah desert.

While we were in the desert, I thought that Shyla was completely better. She seemed more energetic, happy, and carefree. She even learned to run happily in her boots!

However, since we've returned home, I've felt as as if a small bit of her has gone missing again. It's mostly during our morning mountain bike rides that I notice it. It's a loss of enthusiasm. Usually, she starts out very happy but then becomes subdued. I had been attributing it to phenobarbital.
Then, my good friend suggested that it might actually be fall-out from the evil woman who hit Shyla during a mountain bike ride. For those of you who missed that story, a woman hit Shyla across the face with no provocation. I'd just given Shyla permission to "go say hi", because I mistakenly thought that the woman was one of our kind neighbors.

That incident hurt both of us very badly. Fortunately, Shyla seemed to be okay physically. However, the emotional toll has been bigger. She's more tentative in the forest, not romping exuberantly like she used to to do. Just recently, she has finally started approaching people again. Because 99.9% of my neighbors are wonderful people, they've been helping Shyla recover by being so kind to her when they see her on the trails.  She's now approached three women since the evil woman hit her.
I'd be lying if I said that the event didn't take a toll on me too. A bit of history will help explain why it upset me so much. Many years ago, we had our first pair of Labs, Rover and Astro. To make a long story short, Rover was shot to death while we were hiking. The shooter was convicted of several charges, including a felony, but that didn't help heal me at all. It took me a long time and counseling to get past my inability to trust strangers and my fear of someone hurting another one of our dogs.

This recent event has shown me that the scar from that murder was not completely healed. Since the woman unexpectedly belted Shyla, I've been hypervigilant in the forest, always scanning for danger in the form of people who might hurt Shyla. I'm sure that she picks up on my anxiety, which is not helpful to her.

So, the question that I keep asking myself if whether that last piece that seems to be missing from Shyla, the exuberance factor, was stolen by the phenobarbital or by the woman who hit her. I'm starting to leaning toward the latter.
In any case, I am so thankful that Shyla's seizures are under control and that our sweet girl is generally okay. She's been through a lot in the past months, and I'm still hopeful that her full exuberance for life will return soon.


  1. Hari OM
    OH my, what a horror you faced; I too am inclined to think there are reservations from that experience and certainly if you have some yourself, Shyla will be picking up on that too. How wonderful that the neighbours are joining in the reparation of that one evil moment and I send Love and wishes that healing continues. YAM xx

  2. My vet said to me a few weeks ago when he removed a tumor from Jake's eyelid, that Jake was picking up on my vibes I was putting out. he said dogs read our every thought and we put out vibes they can read, maybe Shyla is picking up on your hypervigilant vibes.
    I hope you both feel better soon and my heart just broke reading your story of your dog being shot.

  3. I was wondering about this just the other day, and if Shyla was approaching people again. I'm glad you have good neighbors that can help both of you through this.

  4. Oh dear God!! Any human being with feelings would be scared for life. How horrible. Wonder if she just gets more exhausted quicker due to the phenobarbital. Sending lots of hugs
    Lily & Edward

  5. I am so sorry your dog was murdered. I had a dog killed in a friendly accident and i know the PTSD from is still with me. I am sure it will be forever. I hope that with time both you and Shyla will feel a bit better.

  6. Thankful her seizures are under control too. Having an epilepsy-warrior myself, there are ebbs and flows on the enthusiasm meter when they are on phenobarb. Dogs are very intuitive and if they sense your fear/anxiety, they pick up on and even mirror it. Could be a combo of the two? Here's hoping she has more enthusiastic days and is able to enjoy some great snow trails. Only a tad of the white stuff earlier, but loads of nice rain in Denver. Finally! 😇

  7. OMG, shame on that evil person who killed Rover! grrrrrrrrr
    We hope that Shyla can put this horrible experience behind her. I love the photo of her running happily in her boots☺

  8. We are so very sorry that you had to endure such a horrific ordeal with your labs. That event would traumatize anyone. Based on Lightning's fear of bikes that never seems to lessen no matter what we try, we are pretty sure that Shyla's hesitation at revealing total relaxation on her runs is due to that bad experience with that stupid person. We hope that with time and with all your help and the help from your friends that she will soon be back to 100% Shyla Joy.

  9. Fear from past experiences can last for so long, we are fairly sure that our old cat Felicity ( she is now 18.5 years old) had been whacked with rolled up newspaper before we adopted her, as a small kitten, as it is only in the last year or so she doesn't flee when I crinkle the paper to light a fire or wrap up rubbish.And the vacuum cleaner noise and pipe is the same. I do hope in time Shyla might forget that nasty woman, and hope even more you do not ever meet her again. Snow, I read of warnings, and down here, snow also will fall in the far south today!!! Maybe you will get one more ride with those snow tyres.

  10. Hi KB, you have a wonderful attitude of gratitude concerning our weather-I've been a bit grumbly about it, because I love warm days. I know you are getting hit with more snow than we are. Now, I would wonder if Shyla's changes might be a combo of both the Pheno and also the experience. No wonder the incident with the lady scared you-it scared me and I didn't even go through it. Also it is understandable considering what you went through with Rover. I'd been so paranoid after that-I'm sure I'd make you look calm. After Hunter was attacked by a dog in our old neighborhood, who also knocked me over, I wouldn't walk near the street where he lived and carried a stick with me for a bit. Hang in there, hopefully any memory Shyla has of the lady will pass.
    Sending warm winter hugs your way.

  11. I have been wondering myself if it is a combination of the two? I do know from my own fearful dogs how highly sensitive they are and any kind of touch can be debilitating, especially if it is a bad one. Like their nerves are right at the skin level. And that the effects can last for a long time. I don't think I'll ever be ever to "cure" Chance and Blaze of all their anxieties. They were traumatized so very young. And without knowing Shyla history, that evil woman may have triggered off something very deep inside of her. I would say just let her lead and she will show you what she needs. And I say this with love and because I have been there, but there may be some broken trust between you and her because you gave her the OK to go over to the person. Even if it is a little, it may take time to rebuilt that trust again with her so that she knows she is 100% safe with you. You and Shyla are in our prayers.

  12. She has been through so much and so have you. Of course I have no idea what would be the best thing for her, but I tend to think that time and the kindness of your neighbors will heal the fear of the evil woman. Have you talked to your vet about the difference in altitude? If she did well at a lower altitude could the medicine affect her differently at the higher altitude where you live? Just a thought, I have no idea. Sending good wishes to you both.

  13. Oh, KB, what a horrible, horrible event to have to go through! My heart truly goes out to you! I don't think anyone could ever totally heal from something like that happening. Which only confirms my thoughts that Shyla is a sensitive girl, as are you, and I think it makes your bond that much stronger, because no one better can understand what she's feeling better than you.

  14. paws crossed that Shyla will be able to return to her full self
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  15. We know you two will figure it out together, even those horrible things can diminish with love.

  16. I had no idea of that terrible history. I cannot imagine that horror. Well. Every good day and minute with your dogs now is so beautiful for you.

  17. I would agree that if the behavior change manifests itself in a place that frightened her, then it is less likely to be the phenobarb. If it were, she would not have been full strength in the desert where she felt totally safe only to become cautious on the trail. And you are wise to note that such a sensitive dog as Shyla will definitely pick up on any hint of anxiety on your part. You have become her rock and shelter since you brought her out of her fearful approach to life. And gave her reason to trust.

  18. OMD, I didn't knows about the murder! OMD, that is just so awful!!! Yes, that is something you never ever really get over. ever. I am so sorry you guys had to go through that. I agree with everyone else, I think it does have to do with the evil,nasty, frickin' empty soul of a human being that hit Shyla. And, yes, since you guys are so attuned with each other, she probably picks up on your vibes as well. I hope in time it will get back to normal. Have confidence in yourself and Shyla ~ I do. and if you needs some margaritas.......☺
    Ruby ♥

  19. OMG, what a horrible thing to go through! I can't imagine. I'm so sorry - but I really admire how far you've come from that! I hope Shyla can continue to get more comfortable. It's great that most of your neighbors are helping. (If only the horrible people in the world would all go live somewhere together and leave the rest of us alone!)

  20. First of all, we applaud your patience. We tried meds for some of my behavior issues but when I went into a "drunken stupor" state, Mom stopped. The dr. said to wait and see, but Mom couldn't do it and we decided for us medication wouldn't work, but you hung in there and there are no seizures. In the grand scheme, she is able to enjoy life for the most part, and no seizures is a miracle really! Remember, dogs read us humans so well. Shyla may be upset still from that evil woman, but you too act differently, maybe even without realizing it and this will effect her as she is so close to you. That murder is horrid. We can't even imagine. In Germany where we lived for ten years, they have a saying, greed eats brain. Basically, be happy for what you have as if you get greedy and ask for more it will be damaging. We hope Shyla feels less sad in the future, but remember to always be grateful she does so well and has no seizures.

  21. I tend to agree with you regarding Shyla's hesitance. Emotional scars are the hardest to heal. The healthy and positive encounters with your neighbors should help, but I suspect it will take time.


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