An Update on My Elderly Dog's Progress with SSP


04 Nov
04Nov

One of the things that I love the most about using SSP is that it is simply fascinating watching how the process unfolds with each client, what types of gains they have, and where and when those gains show up.

It is extra fascinating - and validating - watching how the process unfolds with a dog. It is both not surprising and yet somehow extra interesting to me, that Maggie's process is unfolding in a very similar way as it does for humans.

I have seen with my human clients - and in myself - across the board, greater self protective instincts showing up.  Maggie is now much more assertive with the cat who is now bullying her less - Molly has always been pretty awful to Maggie, as cats can sometimes be.  Molly would - sometimes a few times/day - suddenly run up to Maggie and put her in a chokehold for no reason!  LOL  Cats!!   Maggie would growl but in a passive "I don't like this but I'm not really going to back that up" kind of way.  So Molly has bullied her in a way that she doesn't with Jasper, because Jasper will give a more meaningful growl and bare his teeth if she goes too far with him.  Molly learned to respect Jasper to a degree, but has been very dominant over Maggie, prior to SSP.

At the same time, Maggie is now much more tolerant of Molly if Molly crawls into her dog bed with her.   Prior to SSP, Maggie would growl and snap at her and whine repeatedly, and/or get up and leave and pace because now her bed has taken.   Maggie didn't feel comfortable having Molly share her bed but was too intimidated by Molly to hold her ground.

Now, Maggie no longer leaves and may or may not give her a warning growl "don't piss me off" but then sleeps next to her no problem, even for the entire night.

I am guessing this means that - like with humans who struggle in this area - SSP has improved Maggie's ability to read social cues to know when Molly is in a mood to be difficult, and when she is just wanting to cuddle.  In other words, Maggie's amygdala (the area of the brain associated with the fight/flight/freeze response) is not constantly scanning for danger in the same way that it may have been before, and over-reading "danger" when it did not need to.

Before, Maggie was across the board intolerant of Molly - with very good reason, but she couldn't distinguish between when Molly was being nice and when Molly wanted to harrass her, and just assumed Molly was always, in every circumstance, planning to harass her.

Most excitingly, Maggie's pain relief seems to be holding very well. If Maggie makes it until January 1st - which is seeming increasingly likely - she will turn 15. Maggie is mostly blind, mostly deaf, has dementia, and has severe arthritis. Since doing SSP Maggie's pain levels have dropped so much so that we have been able to reduce her pain medication with no loss of progress. She is much more alert than she was before, and is much more active - has now jumped off the couch five times before we could stop her, having not even attempted such a thing for at least 3-4 years prior to SSP because of her chronic pain. Maggie is barking far less - most often not at all at my clients now which is wonderful. If occasionally she does bark, it is just 1-2 barks, much quieter than before, and it often looks like habit rather than that there is any drive behind it.

It would appear that Maggie is feeling much safer in the world - and more able to accurately gauge her level of safety - which is a very typical human response to SSP. She also has had the massive shift in chronic pain that many SSP human clients report. Some with fibromyalgia report either a dramatic or total elimination of symptoms - I myself have fibromyalgia and a great deal of chronic pain and have not yet myself, after two rounds of SSP three months apart, experienced any shift in pain. However, watching how much relief Maggie has obtained makes me very hopeful that at some point I may experience this improvement myself.

As with humans, how the changes are showing up is absolutely effortless. Maggie has not had to learn greater assertiveness skills or needed to be given ideas of how to tell when Molly is in a mood to be nice and when she isn't - once her physiology shifted, these abilities just showed up in a completely effortless way, almost as if by magic. The experience post SSP for most is one of "I almost feel like I don't know who I am anymore", and "how did that happen?" when people suddenly find themselves saying, doing and feeling things that they have always wanted to, but could not quite get there.

It is a truly amazing and privileged position to be in, being able to watch this process and with almost every single SSP situation so far I have been moved to tears at some point by the progress my clients, myself - and my dog - have made. :)

My 5 year old beagle Jasper is now undergoing SSP.  I am very much looking forward to seeing what his gains are.  Jasper does not have chronic pain as far as I am aware but he is a rescue dog with a great many fears and phobias.  So far I am not seeing gains with him yet, but he is showing signs of being in "fight mode" at times, which is actually a very good sign as it shows SSP is having an impact. Humans with trauma tend to go into either fight or flight at some point shortly after beginning SSP so Jasper is right on target at the moment.  We still have two more hours for him to listen to - I am pacing it slowly for him, since he is in fight mode, to keep the experience as gentle as possible for all concerned) and then his improvements should show up within 2-7 weeks of completing SSP.  :)

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