Kern Family Health banner 25 yrs

Bark the Harried Canines Sang

"It's important to keep her as quiet as possible," began the doctor, his eyes conveying the seriousness of the patient's condition. "It's a stress-related thing, so she'll need to remain calm and quiet for the next couple of days."

I held the doctor's gaze for a couple of seconds before my emotions took over. My laughter spurted (I'm so glad I wasn't drinking anything at the time) as I quickly covered my mouth and nose, hoping I hadn't already sprayed the kind man.

But even he had to chuckle a little as we turned to look at the patient. The frail female we were discussing, you see, was my six-year-old Schnauzer, Jenny.

"I know, I know; how can a dog have stress?" continued Dr. Lohr, our veterinarian, smiling as he suggested that perhaps the recent downturn of the stock market was weighing heavily on Jenny's mind.

"Yes, dogs certainly do have the weight of the world on their shoulders," I said, rolling my eyes as I smoothed back Jenny's ears. She was starting to get that crazed, neurotic look in her eyes again (you know, the one where the dog's eyes are so wide you can see the whites even when she's looking directly at you), and Lord knows I couldn't afford another canine anxiety attack, so I gathered her in my arms as Dr. Lohr gave me the rest of Jenny's discharge instructions.

On the way home, I started to wonder just what it was about Jenny's life that could have caused so much stress. 'Cause from where I sit, I'm thinkin' Jenny has a fairly worry-free life. She wakes up, goes outside, let's me know when she's ready to come back in by barking like a squeak toy and jumping over and over and over on the glass door until I let her back in, eats a hearty breakfast, takes an early morning nap, goes back outside, comes in, has a midmorning nap that lasts until late in the afternoon, greets all the kids, takes an afternoon nap that lasts until dinner time, tap dances around the dinner table in hopes of catching falling scraps, takes an evening nap, goes outside, then comes back in for bed. Easy to see why she's just a big bundle of nerves, isn't it?

I'm a little worried about Jenny this holiday season. She's such a wreck, anything could just set her off. Will the twinkling of the lights on the Christmas tree freak her out? Will the three-foot Santa I always place on the hearth send her into fits of stranger anxiety, thinking we have an intruder in the house?

I saw something on the Today Show last month that showed how a canine version of Prozac has changed the lives of many a neurotic dog and his/her owner. I'm thinkin' this would be a perfect stocking stuffer for Jenny. Let's just hope that Santa's arrival to deliver "Jenny's little helpers" doesn't send her into convulsions.

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