At 7:30 last night, just before dark and just after the first big blast of 4th of July fireworks, I drugged my dogs. The vet had prescribed Acepromazine, “two tablets as needed.” I didn’t know how long it would take for the sedative effects to kick in, and I wanted Butch and Kadi to be relaxed before the worst of the noise began.
Fifteen minutes after he’d had two bites of sedative-laced ice cream, Butch walked to a throw rug where he sleeps sometimes, lifted one front paw and teetered on his other three legs, then plopped down and went into a deep sleep. Kadi, who’s 10 pounds heavier, was sitting on the sofa at that time, her head hanging and the tip of her tongue protruding between her teeth. She rolled her eyes to look at me as if to say, “I’m feeling really weird right now; something’s not right.”
Kadi didn’t sleep except for about five minutes over the next three hours. She did lie down, but her eyes were mostly open and her ears twitched in response to every explosion we heard. Except for some mild panting, she didn’t display any of the panicky responses she usually does. I could never be certain if she was actually less afraid than usual, or if she was just too far out of it to respond physically to her fears.
About 20 minutes after Butch went to sleep on the rug, he woke again and tried to move to his big yellow pillow, but he could hardly walk. His legs were wobbling and literally slipping out from under him, so he half-walked/half-crawled to his pillow, then conked out again. That worried me.
The next time he woke up and tried to walk, I picked him up (not an easy task) and put him on the opposite end of the sofa Kadi was on, then I sat between them to keep a close eye on them. Butch, the little sweetheart, whipped his drunken head around and gave my face about a dozen slobbery kisses, then passed out again.
By 10:00 p.m. they were both awake but still under the influence. The fireworks noises had dwindled significantly and Kadi hesitatingly went outside with me to take care of her urinary needs. I tried to take Butch out, too, but he was still fairly wobbly, and Kadi wouldn’t let him go in the backyard. She stood just outside the door, barking right into his face, backing him deeper and deeper into the den. I admire her determination to save us all, but it can get annoying when she overreacts.
I let Kadi back inside and penned her by herself in the living room (my son-in-law built me a decorative indoor picket fence, just for that purpose) and tried again to get Butch to go into the backyard, but he wouldn’t budge. I attached a long lead to his collar and tried to lead (okay, drag) him outside with that, but he twisted and resisted and slipped out of his collar–-twice.
In a last-ditch effort, I got out his serious “going-places” leash, the one with the choke-chain collar that he can’t slip. As soon as he heard that leash jangling, he staggered over and waited by the door that leads to the driveway. For some reason I can't fathom, he always seems to find the fireworks in the sky over the driveway less frightening than those in the sky over the backyard. Go figure. Anyway, he finally did his business and we all went to bed.
I feel wonderful today, much better than I usually do on the morning of July 5th. Butch and Kadi seem a little hungover, but they’re perking up as the day goes on. I think the medication helped, but I still don't feel good about doing that to them.
Note: The photo at the top of this post was taken on an earlier date, when Kadi and Butch were not drugged. This just happens to be one of Butch's favorite sleeping positions.
(First published at Velvet Sacks on July 5, 2006.)