At first I didn’t discriminate between Isis’s ‘twirling’ and her ‘spinning’. But they are very different.
‘Twirling’ can be disconcerting but for Isis it is a happy activity. She circles, head up, front paws lifted off the ground, and snaps into the air at imaginary flies. She does it in certain light conditions and when she feels the rainflies touching her. She doesn’t get angry or frustrated but she can be obsessive.
‘Spinning’ is a miserable affair. It is always rage driven and goes like this: she growls, pauses, growls more fiercely and begins to chase her tail. Spinning faster and faster, she snaps at any bits of herself she can reach, usually her tail and legs. It was some time before I realised that she was tearing out clumps of hair.
Then she began biting herself.
The attacks increased in frequency during October/November. Almost a month ago she inflicted a serious wound on her foot. This resulted in a visit to the vet. During the visit Isis had her anal glands emptied and I hoped that the attacks on her legs would stop. They haven’t stopped although they have happened much less.
The rages seem to stem from frustration. In an attempt to pre-empt them I have been trying to pinpoint specific triggers.
The most obvious are anxiety around food, having her harness put on in the hall and, in some situations, being physically restrained.
She always goes into a spin rage when given a treat which is too big to get into her mouth. She knows it’s there but because she can’t see, she finds it hard to locate the bits which she has dropped. When I give her the lost pieces, she stops spinning.
Now, I break the treats into small pieces and hand-feed her them one at a time. No problems.
The harness in the hall problem is also easily solved. It seems as though she becomes over-excited about going out. As soon as I get my coat from the cupboard she begins to spin and she continues until we leave the house.
Change of tack. Now I put her collar round her neck, clip on her lead and put her in the car. She’s fine about having the harness put on in the car. I then return to the house to put on coat and boots. And off we go. No spinning.
The restraint is much harder. I restrain her as little as possible, of course. I hold her to stop her from biting herself. This makes her even more furious. Today I have stopped myself from intervening. It’s very hard to do but the rages don’t seem to last any longer. When she has injured her foot, it has to be bathed. She has to be restrained. She hates it and tries hard to attack herself.
Until yesterday, I had been congratulating both of us, delighted that the rage spins were declining. The injured foot had healed. No need for bathing.
Yesterday I thought that since she had been doing so well it would be OK to put her harness on in the hall.
Big mistake. Ferocious spin. Bitten foot.
She has flown into spin rages throughout today. And her foot is badly bitten. I was unable to get an appointment for her before 8.30.a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) so it’s been a tough day.
(I’ve just checked my watch and discovered it’s tomorrow already and I’m still writing today’s post. I hope you are less confused than I am.)
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.com