White Dog smiled at Bella and said, "I have to admit, Little Sister, that your ideas on how to help Taiko settle down at bedtime have proven pretty useful." Bella beamed at the recognition and compliment. So on this, Taiko Thursday, we have an update on our Tender-Hearted Boy.
Taking our Tender Heart for a final walk around the perimeter just before lights out has decreased his interest in wanting to push back out into the yard in the middle of the night.
More exercise time just wandering at his own pace as he enjoys the yard during the day has, I believe, also been an aid to fight insomnia. The fresh air and increased activity is good for him. We must stay vigilant that Tai not overdo the stress to his elbow or arthritic back and must make sure to insist on long drinks of water when he comes inside (there is a huge drinking cooler in the yard but he ignores it). And of course, we monitor the time of day and the temperature to make sure he stays safe.
YoYoMa, who has the heaviest coat of the White Dog Army, gave us another tip that has helped. "Maybe my brother does not sleep well because he is too warm. I know that I enjoy the cool of lying against the outside wall and the draftiness of our old windows. Can we figure out a cooling zone for him to settle in if he needs it?"
Steve thought about Yo's point and suggested that maybe we could leave the window in the bathroom opened a wee bit. If the shower curtain is drawn it is cool, not cold, even if the night weather has a bite. Sachi sometimes sleeps just inside the door to the room but has had no problems the few times Taiko has joined him to lie pressed against the tub at the other end of the room. And the bathroom window being open does not draw colder air into the bedroom.
We are still working on Taiko's restless routine during the night. He often wakes and walks the hallway or just stands in the darkness. The rest of the WDA settles when we turn off the light and generally do not stir or change location during the night (except Bella who wakens to follow me if I need to get up). For our big boy, it is just getting all the monsters chased from the closet and ghosts of a fear-filled past stilled. Sometimes he is like a scared child wanting one more trip to the bathroom, or another hug, or a glass of water...anything to postpone being alone while the rest of us sleep. It takes quite some time for our angst driven one to find his "zen zone" to be able to relax but once he does he sleeps deeply and soundly. But it is exhausting late at night moving so slowly to get to that place.
Just today we introduced Valerian Root to his regimen; it is purported to address insomnia and anxiety in both people and dogs. Dr. Julia and her number one, Cindy, agreed it was worth a try. We will watch and see how this herb affects Taiko's situation. As with herbs it takes a bit to "ramp up," but we all agree that a bit of missed sleep is worthwhile if it keeps Taiko in balance and inside. I hope he knows how incredibly lucky he is to have such an caring pack.