Between us, we have 9 Emmy Awards; it just figures the OSCAR we get is the DOG !
... and I'm a New Yorker, in TV.
I'm hard to convince...
9 Emmys, But the OSCAR... Is Our DOG!
Between us, we have 9 Emmy Awards; it just figures the OSCAR we get is the DOG ! I'm a New Yorker, in TV. I'm hard to convince. We got our dog Charly at ARF in New Jersey. She was about a year old, maybe 11 pounds, a Poodle/Terrier/Whatever mix. She was the perfect dog. House trained, she even knew some commands. And she was smart ! She "got" our house immediately, but she had one BIG problem. She hated the car! We have an "every weekend" house almost 3 hours outside NYC so we figured we would just have to teach her about the car.
But Charly wasn’t just nervous, in any car she'd have all out panic attacks! She was agitated, barking, crying, a mess! So we tried different things. Window open, window closed. Buckled in or let loose in the car. Sitting on my lap, sitting in a doggie car seat, in a pet carrier. Thunder Shirt, soothing music, dog calming CDs. Pheromones, essential oils, different diet. Treats. Tasty bones. Get the picture?? Nothing worked! We were finally forced to try the Doggie Downers. I can’t even remember how many drugs we tried, but I do remember resorting to Xanax which had the opposite effect. We finally found a drug that knocked her flat but she became a drugged out mess, and it just wasn’t fair to this happy, active dog.
We called many trainers. Some said the problem was untreatable. Some never called back. Others came up with great ideas like blindfolding her. One day as I was googling I came upon another dog who had a fear of cars but was cured by Casey and her Oscar Therapy. I immediately got in touch. Casey got right back to me. I explained the problem. She said, "Sounds like an OSCAR dog, but the trouble is, we can't do car work in NYC because the streets are too crazy there, too many stoplights!" But the thought of driving THIS dog 3 hours through blizzards with the windows open to get to our other house was not a fun thought so we waited till spring.
Casey arrived at our country house at 9 PM on a Thursday night. She said, "this is the moment of Truth: in the next 10 minutes we'll know if this is a weekend OSCAR job or a months long phobia job." Casey plopped onto the floor with the dog to play a game and got back up: "Thankfully, this looks like a textbook OSCAR case... after this weekend she'll be a different dog."
I must admit, I wasn’t too hopeful when for the whole next FRI morning, Casey just sat on the floor with Charly and played more of "the game." But then Casey stopped and said that she had gotten in to the core problem. “Really...” I said, “ but you haven't even seen her in the car yet!” Casey drew me a “map” of "Charly's body, according to Charly." But the left side of the drawing was missing. "Exactly," she said. "Charly doesn’t know she has a left side, a common problem in rescue dog brains." I started imagining how my wife was going to kill me because I hired some crazy person who says my dog's "left side is missing!!"
But then Casey showed me how Charly will only spin in
one direction but not the other, how she will only lay a certain way and had lousy coordination on that side. Casey: "Ever heard of "left side neglect" in stroke patients? Charly has like an emotion-based brain trauma instead of a physical one." Crazy, right? Casey did some exercises with Charly to get her to "discover and try out using different parts of her left side on the slope of our lawn furniture. I was still not convinced as I had no frame of reference for this storyline.
On SAT, we all piled into the car for the first time. In the driveway, Casey taught her to use her new pivoting ability on the sloped car seats. We went 5 mph, Charly seemed ok. Then we spent an hour going 15 mph but only doing right hand turns. Then we added in left turns which were harder, but Charly was learning she could balance herself. Then we drove around town. Charly was still good but I still had my doubts about highways. Still, every evening Charly was sleeping like the dead. Like she had really exercised, standing still. Go figure.
Finally, on Sunday morning Casey said, "time to go for a real ride." So Charly hopped into the car and we took off for the highway. I floored it at the entrance ramp and next to me was Charly (still in her seat belt harness), "surfing" on the console! No barking, no crying, no agitation, just sniffing the ocean air. This dog looked normal. Casey said, “Charly is digging this.” And she was!
The 3 hour trip back to the city on Sunday afternoon was a joy for all. And a year and half later, she still loves the car. Not only are WE happy but Charly is a happier dog and is less nervous all around. Casey really rescued us from our Rescue! And for the entire weekend, Casey charged us LESS than the weekend doggy retreats our friends send their dogs to, where they come back no different ! Casey was a God send. I can’t say enough good things about her.
New York City, New York
Casey's Addendum Two Years Later:
For 2 years after Charly's OSCAR Therapy weekend, she was good with car trips... always a little keyed up for the first 10 minutes, but then always settled right down. But a week ago, something changed in Charly and for 4 consecutive car rides, she was inconsolable. After a 30 minute video chat, and some quick OSCAR tips for the RIGHT side of the dog this time, she went instantly back to normal and the 3 hour trip back to NYC was great !