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24-02-2015 012



We’ve all been there. Children’s playground. Small child with beatific smile plays on the swing, or roundabout, or slide. Parent warns, “Last one”,  but this has no effect on the child. It is not until s/he is detached from the swing and ushered towards the gate that the horrible reality strikes. An incredulous roar, furious screams, flailing arms. The burning injustice of it.

The scene shifts to a suburban back garden. It is 12.30 a.m. and dark. Dog, who has been let out for a final pee, decides to make a night of it. Deliriously happy, she trots and twirls and sniffs.

Thirty joyful minutes pass. Enter heartless human. Encouragement, cajoling, bribery. Nothing works. It’s now after 1.00 a.m.

Human scoops up dog whose mood flicks from joy to intense anger. Warning growls escalate into furious snarls. Shrieks of protest rend the air as she braces herself against the enclosing arms, bucking and wriggling, attempting to spin and bite herself.

On the kitchen floor the rage continues. Before she can be stopped, she bites her foot and makes it bleed.

By now we will all have identified this recalcitrant canine as Isis. I hold her, stroking her rhythmically, keeping up a flow of soothing words. She may not be able to hear the words, but perhaps she will have some awareness of the sing-song intonation. After a few minutes she stops and is rewarded with a treat. I fetch the Sudocrem and rub it gently between her toes ignoring her threatening snarls. For I have learned that she does not want to bite me. Although, of course, it is easy to get caught on a passing tooth or claw.

After all the drama, she settles down for the night quite calmly.

I can’t help concluding that her performance has all the marks of a tantrum.


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.com



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2 Responses to tantrums

  1. Amber L. says:

    Isis sounds a bit like an autustic person; there is a terrific movie starring Clair Danes called Temple Grandin, based on the real Temple Grandin, a highly intelligent autistic person. Anyway, she would fly into rages, sometimes self-harming, but she invented a contraption which “hugged” her (it’s actually called a “hug box”!). Autistic people generally don’t like human touch, but the feeling of being constrained and sort of wrapped up soothes them. She is also hypersensitive to noise and other sensory stimuli. Fascinating stuff…


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