Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Wednesday January 18th 2017
Well, as we know, Isis continues to spin. Which is all right. Mostly. However fast she spins, she doesn’t appear to suffer from giddiness. Do dogs suffer from giddiness? Or is she unaffected because she can’t see the scenery whizzing past her? Who knows.
Hairy One’s spinning worries Polymath. Well, not the spinning per se, but the tooth clacking which accompanies it. She opines frequently and vociferously that poor Isis will have no teeth left by the time she’s middle-aged.
And I have to admit, there is cause for concern. Her bottom teeth, in particular, are very worn down.
With this in mind, and much prompting from Polymath, I bring up the problem when we go to RSPCA Newbrook Farm for our monthly anal gland emptying (I use the ‘royal we’ here, you understand).
The nice young vet, who hasn’t realised that Isis is blind, examines her eyes with great interest. I voice my concerns about the spinning and the worn down teeth, and explain that I used to worry that Isis’s strange routines might indicate brain damage, but now think that the fact that she almost certainly spent her early years tied up is a more likely explanation for her strange routines.
I gently lift Hairy One’s lips and reveal her diminishing teeth. The vet seems quite intrigued. She tells me that she knows two dogs who do the spinning thing: although neither have sensory impairment, one has a history of restraint and sensory deprivation similar to Hairy One’s, while the other has significant liver damage.
She suggests having Isis in for a couple of days so that her behaviour can be observed, but I am not keen. I think that her behaviour, short-term and in such a different environment, is unlikely to yield much insight into causality. And since she generally seems to be a happy little dog, I am very reluctant to put her through the experience. I do, however, agree for a blood test to be done to check out her liver condition.
Fortunately, no anomalies show up.
When we discuss the results over the phone, two suggestions are made: a more detailed blood test could be done and/or she could be referred to an animal behaviourist.
My gut feeling is that, like many maladjusted children, her ‘strange’ behaviour is consistent with a reasonable adaptation to the unreasonable situation she found herself in.
She spins much more when freed from her lead and left to her own devices than she does on her extended lead, though when there are no other dogs or people in the vicinity, she is noticeably more adventurous, and is expanding her personal space all the time. She seems very keen to be released in her park spaces and always wags when I detach the lead from her harness, but she seems equally pleased when I re-attach her.
I have to admit that being able to release Isis is great for me, too. I have missed the park news exchanged on the old bowling green. Previously, it was only possible to chat to park mates when we were short-lead walking, as Isis zooming around on her extended lead among other beings could be lethal.
Since she was allowed off-lead in the parks, she has lost her interest in stick chewing and balls on strings, but today, while free, she begins playing with sticks again. I think it’s a good idea to play with her more when she’s free, perhaps make some mini treat trails, and try to get her interested in outdoor toys again, in order to present her with alternatives to spinning.
All in all, unless Isis becomes unwell or distressed, I’m inclined to avoid any medical interventions. She is increasingly more confident and happy. She seems to reveal a little more about herself every day, and I’m sure that she has huge unexplored potential for learning.
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.co.uk