A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday February 20th 2022
‘So now I’m not only cold and uncomfortable’, I wrote last Sunday, ‘but also b. tired. But more of that next week ………..’
And yes, it’s definitely more of that this week, as Isis continues to bark, and bark, and bark on and off throughout the night and create merry hell when she is fed.
At least three times I decamp downstairs and sleep with her on the day bed – fortunately the bed is very comfortable. As soon as I settle, she gives a big sigh and goes to sleep. She sleeps peacefully until I wake her in the morning.
I am mystified by this behaviour, and very concerned about her. Ahhh, you might think, that dog just wants you to go down to her.
Except that this is absolutely not Isis. Generally, she prefers to have the space to herself; in fact, she becomes quite annoyed when I absent-mindedly stretch my legs and give her a poke with my toe. She seems to enjoy a pack snuggle in the day time and evening, but not at dog’s bed time. I have the distinct impression that she can’t wait for me to clear off.
This persistent nocturnal barking has happened twice before, and on both occasions she was in considerable pain. The first time the vet discovered that one of her nails had been torn across the nail bed. The second time I could find nothing wrong, but the next day discovered a large shard of nail on her bedding. When I groomed her, I found the other two thirds caught in her coat. One of these had a strong cotton thread jammed in it. Clearly, she had pawed her cushion and a thread had caught in her nail and split it.
This must have happened again, I conclude. Yes, she keeps diving at her left back foot and gnawing at it. And she growls when I examine the foot. I become quite obssessed with her nails and keep counting them, but I can’t find any more missing.
Could last year’s mouse have returned, my friend Y wonders. No, there’s no evidence of it. Anyway, Isis hadn’t previously responded to the mouse by barking all night.
O.K., if it’s not a mouse, and not her nails, it must be her anal glands. They were only emptied three weeks ago, but what else could be troubling her?
I make an appointment with the practice nurse to have them checked. This nurse is always brilliant with Isis, and quickly establishes that her anal glands are fine. She asks about any other physical symptoms: no, I tell her, everything else appears to be perfectly normal.
Has she been acting strangely in any other way, staring into space, for example, or behaving as if she doesn’t know where she is? This could suggest dementia. Although Isis is rather young to have dementia, it can happen.
It’s a chilling thought.
No, Isis hasn’t displayed that specific behaviour.
Although it occurs to me that her current strange behaviour could indicate a cognitive problem, I try not to dwell on that possibility.
The nurse asks if there have been any environmental changes, anything which could have disturbed her. Ah, yes. I tell her about the gas leak and the three visits from engineers. S. had been in the house for about four hours the previous Friday, replacing and re-routing pipes to restore the heating and hot water. He had been working close to where Isis sleeps, and his scent must still be strong. He will return within a few days to install new pipes for the gas fire and hob.
“Do you think that it could be stress?”, I ask. The nurse thinks that it could, and suggests that I wait for two weeks after the engineer’s final visit to see whether Isis returns to ‘normal’. If the problems persist, I should bring her to see the vet. If her behaviour deteriorates in the next few days, it might be a good idea to give her some calming pheromone capsules.
I take Hairy home.
The angry attacks on her left back leg and tail only occur in the house, usually when I turn the lamp on in the evening. I wonder whether her eyes might have changed, so that the light is affecting her differently.
Yet her behaviour outside the house hasn’t altered at all.
I also recall that when she is stressed, she always attacks her left back leg and tail. It’s always her left side. When she first came, she had barbered her left flank so that the hairs were only about a centimetre long.
Three days ago, when the lamp is on and she’s very irritable I get out her Doggles, which have not been used for years. The first and second times I put them on her, she tries hard to remove them, but after about fifteen minutes, goes to sleep. Tonight she doesn’t try to remove them, and goes to sleep immediately. She’s been asleep ever since. Perhaps they are making her feel more comfortable.
And this evening, for the first time in two weeks, she eats without barking.
I need to stop jumping to conclusions, and, instead, just observe her very carefully.
Strange little dog.
Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.