Two missed posts. Oh dear. What’s the excuse? Choose from these: have been somewhat overwhelmed by Hairy One’s rages; have suffered a period of extreme idleness, or “but I did clean four floors on Tuesday.”
Hairy One appears to be recovering from her maltreatment, i.e. the administration of the nasty smelling anti self-harm spray. I think that she has removed all traces of it from her feet.
As you can see, she is still wearing her Buster Collar. I don’t want to rush things.
I apologise to those who find this updating account repeats information given in earlier posts. I find this difficult to avoid.
About two weeks ago I posted my intention to monitor the rage spins very closely, noting exactly when they are triggered and working out how they might be pre-empted.
A third of the rages, I discover, are prompted by preparations, particularly putting on collars, leads, harnesses etc., made before exiting the front or back doors.
The morning putting on of the collar has a rather sweet resolution. I eventually realised that she wants to extend the greeting process and play with me while I attempt to put her collar on. She’s not cross. I upset her by getting cross myself. Now we have a happy little ‘Here comes your collar’ game every morning. She prances, shakes her head and pushes against me while I pretend to secure the collar. After a while I calmly signal ‘enough’ and she sits and waits for the collar. ‘Problem’ solved.
The other ‘exit’ rages appear to have been eliminated over the last few weeks simply by reducing the preparations so that all she has to wait for is the clipping on of the lead before she exits and is rewarded with a treat on the other side of the front door. She loves the car and jumps in eagerly. Once in, her harness is put on and she is given treat two. I return to the house to pick up all the bits and pieces and off we go. She rarely spins in the car now.
When she goes out into the back garden, I unlock the door before she reaches it, carefully coil the lead in my hand so that nothing dangles on her, and out we go. Coming back in, same care with lead, making sure it’s not touching her and unclipping it promptly.
Triggers for the next third of the rages comprise a mixed bunch: anything which dangles and touches her or wraps itself round her feet, for example, part of a slack lead; a bit of me accidentally touching her while she is asleep; being reeled in when she’s twirling or any kind of ‘manhandling’, for example intervening when she’s about to do something which is likely to hurt her, e.g. holding her back from walking through a closed door.
Most of these situations can be avoided or dealt with quite quickly.
She also has what appear to be nightmares, suddenly waking from sleep growling and snarling. These episodes can turn into foot attacks unless she is immediately aware on waking that there is no threat. Then she just goes back to sleep. Hopefully, these will diminish over time.
The rest of the triggers occur around food: barking or growly spinning while waiting to be fed; hysterical fury if a bit of food gets ‘lost’ or is difficult to get at. A ferocious spin as soon as she’s finished a meal! (Unfortunately, once she got used to the Green feeder, it lost its calming effect. But I will reintroduce it later, when she is more settled.)
Some of the food rages can be avoided. Cutting her Dentistix and other long treats into bite-sized chunks and hand feeding them means they don’t ‘disappear’ so no cause for alarm. Others take more training but are working well, like stopping food preparation immediately if she barks or spins. And mealtimes are a much quieter business now that I hold her food bowl while she eats. She no longer stares at the ceiling and all around her snarling, growling and snapping to ward off thieves.
The “I’ve finished my food!” rage is proving to be the most intransigent. Holding her to prevent her attacking herself makes her even more furious. Flicking a handful of water at her stops her momentarily, but she then begins again. My latest idea is to place a very desirable treat in her bed and make sure she ‘finds’ it as soon as she’s finished eating. We’ve only done this once – last night – so far, but we’ll see how it goes.
As always, when these things are written, I see how much progress she has made. And now the effects of the anti-self harming spray (!) are wearing off, we are both calmer. I guess that watching a being hurt itself over and over again is bound to be harrowing.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.com