24 Jan

When I first considered using SSP with my dogs, it was actually Jasper I was most thinking about.

Jasper is a 5 year old St. John's Ambulance Therapy Dog. He is a wonderful, sweet, good natured dog. But, he also is a rescue who went through significant trauma before he came to me when he was 9 months old.

I first tried to run SSP on the dogs at the same time. This approach did not go well as Maggie is almost deaf, so had to be run at a higher volume.

A day or two after doing the first hour of SSP, Jasper attacked Maggie three times, in one morning. It is often the case that those with trauma go into either fight or flight when they first do SSP - and it is clear to me that this is just as true for dogs as it is for human.

I then stopped Jasper immediately, realizing the volume was too loud for him, and finished doing SSP for Maggie.

As you can learn from my October, November and December posts on this blog, Maggie's response has been phenomenal.

Once Maggie was passed the first three weeks post SSP and was not likely to still be feeling the increased vulnerability that many humans do during the SSP period and for a few weeks afterwards, I then restarted Jasper. This time, at a lower volume and going more slowly.

He still went slightly info "fight" mode, but no attacks occurred. I would notice moments when he was watching the cat like a predator and was tensing up. Knowing that the best way to get SSP tumultuousness to settle is by providing affection, support and connection, I made a point of rubbing his ears, petting him and cuddling him whenever I noticed he was tense.

Each time he settled and we were able to get through the process without incident. :)

It takes 2-7 weeks for SSP improvements to show up and I watched, with interest. Being a rescue dog, Jasper has a great many fears: he is afraid of water to the point that sometimes he is too afraid to drink from his water dish, of any sound he doesn't understand - whether it is fireworks, the smoke detector, or even a loud "kiss-y" sound - and he is afraid of shiny floors and absolutely terrified of elevators.

While Jasper definitely experienced improvement with SSP - he now is much more tolerant of the cat.  Prior to SSP, if she tried to "groom" him, he would growl, bare his teeth, and snap at her.  He would not allow her to sleep with him.

Since SSP, while I do think he'd prefer that Molly not groom him or sleep with him, when she does so, he now just opens his eyes and look at her, and then go back to sleep again.

However, he is still just as afraid of the things he was previously afraid of.

Every brain and nervous system is different, and we can never predict precisely how any one person - or any one dog - is going to respond. There are - rarely - people who don't respond to a first round of SSP. Most of those people are likely to show a very significant improvement with a subsequent round of SSP.

We need to wait at least 3 months before repeating SSP so that the neurological systems have a chance to integrate the changes and then rest.

I am very much looking forward to doing a second round of SSP on Jasper and most likely will be doing so sometime in February. :)

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