As if I wasn’t enough of a millennial stereotype already, I started my dog on a low dose of Prozac a few weeks ago.

My dog Janey has always been an anxious girl; even on her best days she’s on high alert in case seagulls have been military-grade drones disguised as birds this whole time (among many other concerns).

We’ve been together for five years now, and while she’s certainly made progress since I first adopted her – she hardly ever hides underneath the furniture anymore! – the aging process has thrown more curve balls at us.

She’s now eight and her senses are starting to dull a bit. Where she used to start barking as soon as a set of wheels touched the driveway, now a careful person can get all the way to the front door before she sounds the alarm. In some ways this is good (I don’t enjoy her barking; nobody does, probably not even Janey herself) but in other ways, it’s made her more easily startled. A startled dog is a fearful dog and a fearful dog can become aggressive.

So, with a bunch of changes on the horizon for my anxious girlypup – namely, my girlfriend Bo and her cat Persephone having moved into the house – I told my vet I thought it was time to seek medical assistance. Janey’s never going to be a chill, even-tempered golden retriever, but I figured it might help take the edge off a bit.

Prozac is the penicillin of psychiatric medications; it’s the OG, the original in its field; it works pretty well pretty widely; it revolutionized medicine; it’s the first line of treatment prescribed; and you can use it in pets as well as people.


When I first sought out treatment for my anxiety disorder (I’ve always said Janey and I are one soul in two bodies) I was put on Prozac. It didn’t really work for me; I’m hoping that since Janey is a smaller and less complex lifeform than a human, it will do the trick. My indefatigable veterinarian said that it takes about two months on Prozac to see the full effect in any given animal.

So far, Janey’s definitely lost her appetite a little – a side effect I remember from my stint – but since she needs to lose a few pounds anyway, it’s kind of a benefit. Now we take our medications together every morning, although mine don’t go into a bacon-flavored pill pocket. (Yet.)

While we haven’t seen the full effect, she certainly seems a lot calmer. She still barks whenever anyone enters the house but she settles down a lot quicker. My girlfriend Bo and her lovely cat Persephone moved in last week, with a few bouts of stress-related tears (mostly mine) but no major catastrophes. Janey was certainly on edge with all the moving, new sounds and smells, furniture rearrangement and spooky moving boxes everywhere (anything could be hiding in there!) but she got through it and was fairly polite towards the cat. They aren’t best friends yet. I wonder if maybe no other cat will ever come close to measuring up to the late, great Juno in Janey’s eyes.

As we were standing around the kitchen with our seltzers, celebrating a job half done – there are still boxes everywhere, and we have to engage in the ritual of discovering we own duplicate items and deciding who’s we are going to keep – we noticed something odd.

My rambunctious, barely-year-old puppy, who has a brain like a ping-pong ball, was hyper-focused. Karma never sits still unless it’s past 9:30 p.m. and she is literally in REM-stage sleep. There she was, sitting bolt upright, in a straight posture no Milk-Bone treat has ever convinced her to do. She looked like a robot dog about to shoot lasers out of her eyeballs, which were locked directly on Persephone. A six-inch blob of drool hung from her flappy jowls.

Turns out I was worrying about the wrong dog. Sweet baby Karma, who has loved every human and dog who has crossed her path or even entered her field of vision, has a prey drive.

My mom always says that couples who are getting serious about each other should take a trip together so they can see how the other reacts in a high-stress situation where everything can (and will) go wrong. That was obviously only because my mom hadn’t thought of the concept of putting three adults and four animals, one of whom clearly wants to eat the other like a little feline fajita, into one 900-square-foot house.

Fortunately, Bo and Persephone are as patient and perfect as the Maine Millennial and her contumacious canine companions are not. Persephone, a sweet orange girl, has clearly learned the legal concept of “stand your ground” – she won’t move when the dogs approach (which would absolutely trigger their instinct to chase). Whenever either dog comes within four feet of her, she bops them on the nose. The claws haven’t come out yet. I suspect when they do, that sharp lesson will manage to cut through even Karma’s thick skull.

While prey drive can’t be trained out of a dog, she can be taught that her roommates are strictly off-limits. Bo already taught her how to walk on a leash without pulling. Anything is possible.

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