A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday March 27th
Hmmmm. Not the best of weeks. First I lose my new hearing aid in Highbury Park, then my driving glasses disappear into thin air somewhere between the front garden and the back door.
And, as a jangling, nerve stretching background to these frustrating incidents, Isis ramps up her screechy, distracted barking.
Yes, she has stopped barking through the night. Unfortunately, she now barks in the early hours of the morning, beginning around dawn. She also barks quite frequently in the daytime and evening. After each outburst, she grabs her right back paw or barbers her tail.
She is unhappy, jumpy, tired and very irritable.
That makes two of us.
Like very knotty balls of wool, Hairy One’s problematic behaviours take a lot of untangling.
Every now and again, I think I may have found a thread which could lead to an explanation, and, hopefully to a remedy.
First I decide it has to be her anal glands, and book an appointment with the veterinary nurse.
But no, it’s not her anal glands. They’re fine, the nurse tells me, and points out that she emptied them only two weeks ago.
Whoops! Obviously, Hairy One’s hysteria is catching.
Is her skin allergy returning? Much to her disgust, I riffle through her coat, and examine her skin, millimetre by millimetre. No, not an inflamed patch or even a speck of dandruff.
Perhaps she has another fractured nail. The timbre of her barking is the same as it was when she had an injury to her nail bed before. Fighting off her growly protests – they’re sotto voce, because we’re not supposed to growl at Human – I separate each toe and check her nails and nail beds. All seem fine, although she does throw in a red herring by shedding a nail a few days later.
Meanwhile, I realise that while breakfasts are accompanied by volleys of barking, evening meals are generally quiet and uneventful. It is definitely the light which is bothering her while she is eating. Fair enough, Isis.
It’s a difficult one.
Moving her feeding stand to another location is not an option. She becomes hysterical. Understandable in view of food deprivation in her early life.
Cutting out the source of light isn’t possible either, as this would require complete blackout over a wide area.
I try a tall cardboard screen to shield her from the light, but she doesn’t tolerate that, either.
(I’ve just thought of a plan which might work, but let’s not get distracted. For the time being, we’ll go along with noisy breakfasts.)
At the moment, it’s the escalation of the barking which concerns me most.
Her vocalisations are an expression of intense discomfort, and this is very concerning. Is she succumbing to doggy dementia? Is the behaviour indicative of a deep rooted, sinister problem?
These daytime and evening bouts are a new thing, but looking back to her early months with me, I recall that she used to spin and twirl on the floor instead. That was definitely light related, and the reason that I began keeping the blinds drawn in the back room.
On Saturday evening nothing I do quells the barking. In desperation, I ambush her in mid bark, and secure her Doggles over her muzzle and behind her ears.
When I’ve tried this previously, I’ve generally met fierce resistance, but this time she doesn’t protest when I put them on her. In fact, she seems relieved, and falls asleep almost immediately. She sleeps for several hours without a peep, and only wants them taken off when it’s time to go outside for her last pee of the day.
Human’s brain begins to clank into action. During February, it rained vitually every day. For most of March the days have been much sunnier, and even when it hasn’t been sunny, the light has been unusually intense.
Is it the intensity of the light which is affecting her? Have there been changes in her eyes? Or is it simply that she is less able to tolerate light now she is older?
Who knows? And perhaps it doesn’t matter. I guess it’s time to stop theorising, to focus instead on observing her responses in different environments, and to work out a plan of action.
Watch this space.