Toby’s Firework Anxiety


Our Scotty, Toby Two, has had a rough few weeks. From June 24 until July 6, fireworks were launched almost every night. During the first few times, he would run to an enclosed space such as the laundry room, his crate, our dog’s toy box, or under a chair in my office. Now he looks for me and lies down in a dog bed next to me in my office or in the living room. Toby Two doesn’t like thunder either, and he exhibits the same behavior when a storm passes through.

Last October, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania rewrote the 80-year-old fireworks law, making them easier to purchase. That is what made it worse this year as far as Toby Two is concerned.

RVing: First Time Out

My wife, and our three dogs, had their first overnight trip in our motor home. We took a trip to Cozy Creek Campground, near Tunkhannock, PA, and stayed two nights. Our two Scotties and Westie adapted well to travel and we’re very eager to explore when we took them on walks. They also enjoyed looking outside from their perch on the dash board. They did get agitated when they spotted chipmunks and squirrels as well as other dogs. We’ll have to work on that during training. 

I had already made two shakedown overnight trips on my own, prior to this one, and I am getting more proficient with the RV’s systems. I’ve worked out most of the bugs, but I still have a couple of things to try out and resolve.

Introducing Trixie

File Mar 19, 2 56 42 PM

Two weeks ago, we acquired a new addition to our family. We brought home a West Highland Terrier puppy which we named Trixie. She is a little spitfire and can hold her own against our older Scotties, Tillie and Toby Two. It took a few days, but the Scotties have accepted her.

Trixie is now eleven weeks old. For such a small puppy, at 4 pounds, she can be quite vocal and loud. I can hear her upstairs at the other end of the house. She is starting to learn how to navigate stairs. Not too much problem going up, but unsure of going down. She has also adapted well to crate training. We expect it will be several weeks until she’s housetrained.

Trixie was a big hit at the nursing home. Residents, and staff alike, enjoyed her visit.

Scotty Cramp

Until yesterday afternoon, my wife and I had not heard of a genetic condition specific to Scottish Terriers. Our Scotties, Toby Two and Tillie, normally very active, became listless after prolonged exercise in our backyard. We immediately took them to the vet and learned about their ailment. 

“Scotty Cramp” is a hereditary neuromuscular disorder characterized by periodic cramps. It is seen in Scottish Terriers, especially those less than one year of age. As we observed, the condition’s appearance was quite startling, an its onset was rapid. However,  it does not usually represent a serious health problem or cause pain.

Episodes of Scottie Cramp typically first manifest in young dogs or puppies. Our Scotties are now 15 months old. Symptoms occur during or shortly after periods of intense excitement, stress, or exercise and may include any of the following:

  • Stiff hind limbs that appear cramped
  • Awkward, marching movements
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden collapse
  • Facial muscle contractions
  • Contraction of facial muscles
  • Arching of lumbar spine

An episode of Scottie Cramp can last up to thirty minutes, with varying levels of severity. As we observed, its onset occurred after the stress of moving to a new home and after increased activity. Although it is inherited, some experts believe Scotty Cramp to be the result of a disorder in serotonin metabolism within the dog’s central nervous system.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment available at this time. However, behavioral modification and/or environmental changes have been shown and are recommended to eliminate triggers which may cause the onset of symptoms. 

Mild sedatives, such as diazepam, may be useful if behaviors are difficult to modify or in advance of a planned event that may be stressful. Also, Vitamin E is thought to be beneficial in reducing the likelihood of an attack, although it does not appear to impact the severity of the cramping.
After 24 hours of resting and reduced activity, our dogs have returned to their normal active selves.