Hairy Barry: Still An Anxious Dog?

A while back, I wrote a few articles about our wonderful, anxious dog, Hairy Barry.  So many readers really seemed to enjoy his story (and identified with our struggles) that I wanted to provide an update on how The Hairy Dude is doing.

Want to know more about what worked and didn’t work to help our newly adopted anxious dog, Hairy Barry?  Click here to check out the article series: “The Hairy Barry Chronicles.”  

The Hairy One is a fun-loving Flat Coated Retriever who had some, uhhh, difficult behaviors in the first year that we adopted him.  In addition to running away from us every chance he got, he obnoxiously barked at other dogs at the campground and wanted to pounce on all the small furry things in the forest.  Combined, these difficult behaviors made camping with him quite challenging.

This coming spring will mark our two-year anniversary with Barry.  Some things have improved and others haven’t changed much since I originally wrote the articles.  Here’s an update of how Barry is doing:

Anxiety Levels

Barry was between 2-3 years old when we adopted him, which now places him at about 4-5 years old.  Increased age, as well as more comfort with us, has helped to make him a calmer dog, generally speaking.  However, he is still not comfortable in the RV by himself.  If he can’t see us out of the window, he panics.  If left alone in the RV, he would surely bark incessantly.  So we haven’t made much progress with his Separation Anxiety.

You might recall from the previous article that we tried medicine to help him with his anxiety.  Barry was on Prozac for several months.  Like anything, there was some good and bad with this medication.  Barry was subdued while on Prozac, but it suppressed his naturally joyful personality.  And although it really did help to calm him down, it did not help his ability to be in the RV by himself without freaking out.  We weaned him off of the medication after a few months.  We were happy to see his silliness return, and it did seem as though Barry was more settled down after the meds (when compared to his behavior before the meds).

Running Away

We really haven’t given Barry many opportunities to be off leash… with one exception.  One day late this summer while I was at work, Ted decided to bring Barry outside with him without a leash. To Ted’s complete amazement, Barry didn’t try to run.  The Hairy Dude relaxed in the grass close to Ted while he did yard work for several hours. Maybe all of that crazy behavior was behind us, after all.

And when the kids came home from school, they played with Barry in the front yard without a leash.  Still, Barry didn’t try to run away. Hooray!

When I came home from work, Barry greeted me at my car without his leash. I immediately yelled, “Barry’s off the leash.  THE DOG IS OFF THE LEASH!!!”  Normally the most cautious of our bunch, my son approached me and said, “Mom, Barry’s good.  He’s not going to run away.  Watch.”  My son then proceeded to roll a soccer ball at Barry in the yard.  Barry pounced on the ball, stopped, and then looked around with a crazy look in his eye. Uh-oh.  The next moment, Barry took off across the yard, streaked past me, and ran up the steps into the open door of the RV that was parked in the driveway. I watched the RV wiggle and shake as Barry ran a few laps inside of the confined space.  Not bothering with the steps, Barry then rocketed out of the RV and took off like a beautiful gazelle down the road.  Boing! Boing! Boing!

Of course, he didn’t come when we called.

Ted and my son took off after him on foot.  And I got my car keys.  We ended up finding him a block away.  Somehow he was trapped in a fenced in backyard.  We’re not sure how he got in, but Barry couldn’t get out.  Hooray!  And that was the last time we let Barry go off leash.

Prey Drive

Well, there hasn’t been many changes in this area, either.  He still stares at squirrels and chipmunks with adorable intensity before he explodes in action to try to catch them.


This one is hard.  Barry has made some improvements in barking with other dogs, but it’s not consistent.  He still barks like crazy at some dogs and not at others.  I would like to see more progress in this area.

Hurt Leg

A couple of months ago, Hairy Barry hurt his front leg.  The Hairy Dude can be quite enthusiastic and has bursts of excitement where he runs around the house with zero sense of his own personal safety. In his zeal, he slides across the floor and crashes into walls. We try to keep him calm, but his happy, exuberant personality is hard to suppress.  We suspect Barry hurt himself in one of these moments of unbridled enthusiasm.

For about 2+ months, he has limped on his injured front leg.  It’s worse when he first gets up and starts to move around.  From time to time, the limp is unnoticeable.  We become hopeful that he is healed (or healing), but then he seems to have a setback and begins to limp again.

After a couple of weeks of persistent limping, we took Barry to the vet to have him examined.  The vet took x-rays and didn’t find any broken bones. Although he doesn’t respond in pain when examined, she suspected that Barry has soft tissue damage and gave him an anti-inflammatory medication.    That was about 6 weeks ago.  We continue to give poor Barry the meds, but really doesn’t seem any better (and sometimes he actually seems worse). We have scheduled an appointment with an animal hospital for some special testing in early December.

Thanks for your interest in Hairy Barry!  Fingers crossed that the Hairy Dude will be OK.  I’ll keep you posted.

Update 4/17/16:  This is difficult news to share.  We lost Hairy Barry to Cancer.  A large, aggressive tumor was the source of his leg pain. We were completely stunned to learn of this development and heartbroken to say goodbye to our beloved furry friend.  Thanks to all for your delight at his antics and for caring about our journey with Hairy Barry.     

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  • Reply Helping Hairy Barry: Surgery, Steroids, Ice Packs & Essential Oils – CU On The Road January 10, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    […] See more information about Barry’s progress and his injury in the article: Hairy Barry: Still An Anxious Dog? […]

  • Reply The Hairy Barry Chronicles (a recap) – CU On The Road August 27, 2017 at 10:14 am

    […] Update: Check in to see if things improved for Hairy Barry the next camping season. […]

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