For the last two weeks we have been dosing the dog with Xanax. This is not a matter of caprice on our part. Since the Em-dog broke her toe she’s been under virtual house-arrest: allowed out for functional walks, but no cavorting, no social life, no bounding about to examine the smells and textures of her world. So the vet prescribed the generic for Xanax, which scrip was filled at the local Walgreens. The scrip was filled for “Emily the Dog Robins,” which oddly tickles me. And I have to say that the stuff didn’t seem to be doing much to help the dog cope with her imprisonment–the first week Emily was reasonably good-humored about things, but this week she’s been a wreck (which means that the rest of us haven’t been having much fun either). Today I took her in for her checkup; while the bone is mending well, it looks like there’s going to be at least two to three more weeks of house arrest, a thought which chills my blood (and would likely chill Emily’s). The vet gave us a new and more intense Doggie Downer to help the dog get through the next couple of weeks, with instructions to try her on half a pill before we go whole hog.
I have mixed feelings about this; would I so quickly stuff my kid with drugs just to keep her from driving me nuts? And yet, I’m a consumer and a believer. In 1986 my mother, who was very ill–in part as a result of years of tobacco and alcohol abuse–was put on an early SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), so early it didn’t even have a brand name. For the last three months of her life she did not drink, and showed no signs of withdrawal; further, she became the person I remember from my childhood: funny, appreciative, charming. And about a year ago I went on a low-dose anti-depressant which has been immensely helpful to me, personally. So I truly do believe in the power of chemistry to help, sometimes life-savingly help.
On the other hand (and there’s always another hand, have you noticed?) I don’t love the way drugs are marketed for everything from restless legs to tearless eyes to sleepless nights. A few years ago I was at a friend’s house; said friend had a child who had some unspecified problems; his mother just knew that he had ADHD and needed Ritalin. When she found a doctor who agreed, the kid was prescribed Ritalin, and one of the most unsettling things I’ve seen is David taking his pill–all bouncy and goofy one minute, and the next, soft and boneless as the Ritalin kicked in. In the end, his mother decided that Ritalin wasn’t the answer and took him off the drugs.
Now, I am a bona fide Older Person and a Veteran of the milder skirmishes of the Drug Wars of the 60s and 70s. Back in the day, watching my peers get toasty on a couple of hits of pot, or a line of coke, or whatever, never bothered me particularly. But watching essentially the same thing happen to a kid who hasn’t opted for it himself, because his behavior made his mother worry troubles me. And I guess, in the same way, I feel a little guilty dosing the dog so that I can get a little something done.
Emily’s sleeping next to me as I type; the half pill has taken the edge off her anxiety and quieted the restless pacing and keening; she’s relaxed and comfortable. And I’m not having to play tug o’ war for hours on end. I should enjoy that, right? And I do. Sorta.
Pardon me: I’m gonna pet the dog.