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The real test for serious couples

As if I didn't fit the millennial stereotype enough, a few weeks ago I gave my dog ​​a low dose of Prozac.

My dog ​​Janey has always been a scaredy girl; even on her best days, she is on high alert because she fears that the seagulls all the time might be military drones disguised as birds (among many other fears).

We have been together for five years now, and although she has certainly made progress since I adopted her—she rarely hides under the furniture anymore!—the aging process has presented us with further challenges.

She is now 8 and her senses are starting to deteriorate a little. She used to bark as soon as a car touched the driveway, but now a cautious person can get as far as the front door before raising the alarm. In some ways this is good (I don't like her barking; no one does, probably not even Janey herself), but in other ways it has made her more easily frightened. A frightened dog is a fearful dog, and a fearful dog can become aggressive.

So, with a lot of changes coming up for my nervous girl—namely, my friend Bo and her cat Persephone moving into the house—I told my vet that I thought it was time to seek medical help. Janey will never be a calm, balanced golden retriever, but I thought it might help ease some of the tension.

Prozac is the penicillin of psychotropic drugs. It's the original in its field. It works quite well and widely. It revolutionized medicine. It's the first prescribed treatment, and you can use it on pets just as you can on people.

When I first sought treatment for my anxiety disorder (I've always said Janey and I are one soul in two bodies), I was prescribed Prozac. It didn't really work for me; I hope it does, as Janey is a smaller and less complex life form than a human. My tireless vet said that in a given animal, you need to be on Prozac for about two months to see the full effect.

So far, Janey has definitely lost some of her appetite—a side effect I remember from my time on it—but since she needs to lose a few pounds anyway, that's kind of a plus. Now we take our medications together every morning, although mine don't come in a bacon-flavored pill pouch. (Not yet.)

While we haven't seen the full effect yet, she certainly seems much calmer. She still barks when someone comes into the house, but she calms down much more quickly. My friend Bo and her sweet cat Persephone moved in last week, with a few stress-related tears (mostly from me), but no major disasters. Janey was certainly nervous about the move, the new sounds and smells, the furniture rearranging, and the scary moving boxes everywhere (anything could be hiding in there!), but she got through it and was pretty polite to the cat. They aren't best friends yet. I wonder if maybe no other cat will ever come close to the late, great Juno in Janey's eyes.

As we stood around the kitchen with our bottled water, celebrating half the work – there were still boxes lying around everywhere and we had to go through the ritual of finding out if we had any duplicates and deciding whose things to keep – we noticed something strange.

My wild, barely a year old pup with a brain the size of a ping pong ball was hyper-focused. Karma never sits still unless it's after 9:30 p.m. and she's literally in REM sleep. There she sat, bolt upright, in a posture that a Milk Bone treat has never brought her to. She looked like a robot dog about to shoot laser beams from her eyeballs aimed directly at Persephone. A six-inch drop of drool clung to her floppy lips.

It turns out I was worried about the wrong dog. Sweet little Karma, who loved every person and dog that crossed her path or even came into her sight, has a hunting instinct.

My mom always says that serious couples should travel together so they can see how the other reacts in a stressful situation where anything can (and will) go wrong. This was apparently just because my mom couldn't imagine putting three adults and four animals, one of which obviously wants to eat the other like a little cat fajita, in an 85-square-meter house.

Luckily, Bo and Persephone are patient and perfect in a way that the Maine millennial and her unruly canine companions are not. Persephone, a sweet orange girl, has clearly learned the legal concept of “stand your site” – she doesn't move when the dogs approach (which would absolutely trigger her hunting instinct). Whenever one of the dogs comes within four feet of her, she smacks them on the nose. The claws aren't out yet. I suspect that when they do, this harsh lesson will penetrate even Karma's thick skull.

While you can't train a dog out of its hunting instinct, you can teach it that its roommates are strictly off-limits. Bo has already taught him how to walk on a leash without pulling. Anything is possible.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a millennial from Maine. She can be contacted at:
themainemillennial@gmail.com
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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