Maisy is a Labrador.
She is very well loved and here she is on the left, her happy old self, in her bed with the cat.
Now something strange is happening. For the past month Maisy has had periods of complete shut down. She looks miserable and sometimes shakes. This seems to come over her for no reason at all. You see a different dog on the right. Her ears are flat and she is still, and not really engaging in what is happening around her. It’s almost like she is somewhere else in her head. I just touched her gently with one finger and she startled.
We have been doing detective work starting with a thorough check by the vet. Maisy has had a lot of upheavel over the past few months with crashings and bangings as restoration work has been done on the house which she seemed okay with at the time. The final straw may have been, after an especially noisy period, a door slammed loudly beside her.
Maisy seems more or less fine when she is out of their own home and garden, so it’s not continuous. Is it prompted by the house, the ladies’ presence, or both?
They are keeping a diary of all the circumstances when they notice her going downhill – who is about, where they are, what they are doing and so on. She is fine and relaxed when they get home having been out for a few hours, but starts again after a short while. They hope to set up a camera to see what happens if they both walk out for half an hour when she starts to shut down or shake.
The situation is compounded because everyone around her is so concerned. She is constantly focussed on and loved, which may make her feel uncomfortable. When I sat down on the sofa she came up between me and one of the girls and lay close up to me and relaxed. I believe she felt reassured by my calm confidence and that I was matter of fact and not anxious about her. I made no fuss of her and only gave her the occasional touch, but she would be able to feel that I loved her and that I loved her presence beside me.
Maisy doesn’t need to be fussed to feel loved. This is probably the key to her rehabilitation. It may take a while or the cloud may suddenly lift. We will see.