Poco and the ides of March

Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.
Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Ironically, it was on the ides of March that Poco came to the farm as a foster dog in 2009. We knew there was something damaged in Poco from the moment he wandered, shaking, into our lives. We didn’t know if the damage was permanent or malignant. 

We joke that Poco is an ex-navy seal because he’s seen things nobody should see. He’s survived five years of hell and came through the other side a mere shell of the dog he may have been. Poco was not only starved, but he was beaten and left to die. There is a difference between neglect and abuse. 

I can only speculate on the things Poco survived. I have gut wrenching visions of Poco tied to a tree outside, sitting stoically in the snow. At first I thought he’d be dreaming of food. A cookie or a kind word, but when I delve deeper I can feel his wish for death. If this is life, then his mind gave up three years ago, but his body didn’t died. 

I’m at the vet’s office and he tells me Poco is blind in his right eye. Why? Retinal detachment. How does that happen? Trauma. It was probably some kind of trauma that lead to his blindness. I’ve seen retinal detachment in massive trauma and I can only speculate that head trauma from a human has caused a young dog to be unnecessarily blind. I am enraged.

Poco is six years old and he has the crippled damaged body of a fifteen year old dog. 

I ask the vet about his back legs and Dr. M gently flexes and moves the atrophied limbs. The vet sighs and says, it doesn’t look like he’s in any pain. It’s just how his legs have healed. They broke his legs. He has a funny walk. 

the vet: How’s the rest of Poco? 
Poco’s Mom: he shakes. He shakes for hours several times a day. 
the vet: is it just when it rains or there are loud noises? Is there a trigger? 
Poco’s Mom: No. The rain makes it worse, but even when it’s not raining he shakes. He wakes up in the middle of the night having night terrors and cuddles, growling for comfort. We’ve tried L-theanine for the past year with limited positive results. 
the vet: lets try something new. 

Clomicalm or clomipramine hydrochloride is a tricyclid antidepressant. Tricyclids have been replaced in humans by the safer SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Tricyclids are more effective at keeping serotonin, the neurotransmitter that makes you feel good, available in your brain, but if a person overdosed on tricyclids it was fatal. SSRIs, like Prosac, are much safer. Even if taken in large quantities SSRIs are fairly benign unless mixed with other drugs. I control Poco’s consumption, so his dose is strictly regimented. 

I said I’d never put a dog on anti-depressants, but I don’t know what else to do? He’s been traumatized. He’s terrified for long periods every day and I don’t want him to continue to believe THIS is life. 

The vet explains: It gives the dog the opportunity to experience life happy. Once they learn joy then they can be weaned off the medication slowly and probably won’t need it anymore. 

I feel a little desperate as I agree. The vet tells me Poco will be a new dog, if it works. 

As I drive home from the vet’s office my hands grip the wheel and I choke back tears. Poco quietly crawls onto my lap and lays down. He’s afraid after the trip to the vet and is seeking comfort, while growling. I pet his head and cheek trying to organize my thoughts. I have so many. 

I’m angry, no furious, at what has become of this pup at the hands of people. I’m sad and dishearted as I look into his one good eye. I feel pity for a dog who did nothing, but be selected by the wrong people. Poco vibrates with residual fear, but he’s exhausted and eventually puts his head on my lap to rest. 

I realize there is only a shell of a dog left and I can see a fraction of the glorious, royal beast he might have been once. I loath these people.

We figured Poco has post-traumatic stress disorder and has relapses. It’s been two years, but he keeps going back. Night terrors, lashing out, shaking and the deep stench of fear surrounds this dog. His tail tucks as he moves trying to go unnoticed. He no longer has dreams of love. He’s given up and the only thing keeping him here is his beating heart, and even his cardiovascular system is damaged.

He went from 8 lbs to 12 lbs, but that isn’t going to solve his mental healthy issues.

I’ve tried love, good food and patience, but we haven’t had a breakthrough. He’s still a fearful dog with no confidence and unconcerned with living. We’d given him two years at the farm and now its time to try something new. Something wonderful and hopeful.

Poco had his first Clomicalm Tuesday, March 15, 2011 with dinner. I have such high hopes on the ides of March.

In the Shakespearean play Ceasar the ides of March is the day Ceasar will be assassinated by a group of conspirators, including Brutus and Cassius, his beloved friends. Despite numerous and improbable premonitions such as: the soothsayer’s warning, some fearsome thundering, his wife’s dreams, and so on—Caesar ventures on the ides to meet his doom.

Poco went forth that day to meet his death at the hands of the humane society, but was saved at the last minute by Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue and our family. We were willing to take a chance and we’re still waiting for him to take a chance on us. Ironic, that his next step is taken this same day. 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. I will continue to try and tell Poco’s tale and hope it brings a troubled dog peace. 

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