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This is fairly new behavior, as of this year (since the end of last summer, around when Bowdu started his thyroid meds).


Video taken 9 April 2011 (Apologies for the angle)

You might say this is just a scared dog, and dogs just get scared every now and then. But this has happened more than occasionally (at least once a month, sometimes two or three times), and Bowdu’s reactions often seem disproportionate to the magnitude of the apparent cause.

This was about 4 or 5 PM on a Saturday. That day was a bit windy, and the trees in the backyard had been rustling all afternoon. In addition, a low-flying plane had been circling for about an hour. I’m pretty sure it was the latter that pushed him overboard. Or under the table, as it were.

Buzzing objects in the sky must seem unusual and inexplicable to him. I can understand why Bowdu would find it unsettling.

It’s not the first time planes or helicopters have been abuzz in our neighborhood, though. And in his youth, Bowdu has never reacted so intensely to mere wind. Hell, he’s been through typhoons in Taiwan without so much as a whimper. We’ve been to Bay Area dog parks where we’ve just sat around watching airplanes take off and land. So I’m not sure why he’s now become so sensitive to atmospheric disturbances, over three years after we’ve moved into this house.

Bowpi, meanwhile, was snoring on the futon, dead to the world and to Bowdu’s anxiety.

I previously wondered if these episodes might have something to do with his fluctuating thyroxine levels, since these episodes typically occurred at night. They stopped for a while, then resumed sporadically. More recently, there have been a few shaking episodes during the daytime, as well.

Unsafe spell
Photo taken 13 March 2011

The Doggy Daddy’s approach is to let him have free run of the house. Let him pace as he pleases (he has no crate), let him hide under desks if that makes him feel more comfortable, let him go to the backyard to check out whatever is upsetting him if he wants to, but just leave him be, and don’t coddle him. Resume activity around the house as if nothing is out of the ordinary, and interact with him as normal.

Since most of my activity in the house is situated within the study den, and Bowdu comes to me for attention — assurance — I’m not sure what — I find it hard to proceed as normal during his nervous fits. I try to put him up on the futon or hold him like a human thunder shirt, because otherwise it’s really distracting having him walking under and out from the end table while I’m trying to work! I talk normally and occasionally to him. It doesn’t seem to make any difference in easing his shaking.

That particular episode lasted over an hour. After the plane stopped buzzing overhead, he eventually returned to normal.

Perhaps his threshold for the unfamiliar has just changed over the years, and has little to do with hormones, synthetic or otherwise. People’s personalities change; why shouldn’t dog personalities be volatile and susceptible to new triggers, as well?

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