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Updates on Whit and BeeBee

Posted Aug 03 2008 11:11am

I’m relieved to say that Whit continues to eat his generic canned cat manna, although the last two times I’ve gone to the grocery store, they were either out of it completely or–today–down to their last can. This is a rural, blue-collar area and it wouldn’t surprise me if the downturn in the economy had people downscaling what they were feeding their pets, too. It also made me wonder how many people on fixed income might be trying pet food themselves. That caused me to wonder if the check-out clerk, the same one who checks me out every week, was thinking the same thing about me and those cans of cat food that suddenly started showing up in my grocery cart. In my oh-so-comfortable baggy pants and shirt, and shoes soaking wet from a mad dash to keep Ollie from charging through the garden, did I look like someone who might be reduced to eating catfood ?  It’s possible.

Whit is also hunting more and once again comes to visit me in the bathroom every night I have to get up to use it. In fact, this is such a peaceful, albeit unorthodox, interlude for the two of us, I sometimes regret when I sleep through the night. Interestingly, Ollie has started sleeping downstairs with Whit. I’m not sure if this is because he doesn’t like the sound of the frequent pounding rains on the metal roof, he’s trying to figure out some way to get up on the counter where Whit’s food is without using the chair, or he just prefers the cat’s company at night. Whatever the reason, he does have a much gentler relationship with Whit than the other two dogs. It will not surprise me if they sleep together when the weather gets cooler.

BeeBee continues or provide irrefutable evidence that you can’t change physiology without changing behavior and the bond and vice versa. As if I needed it. When her infection forced me to have her spayed a few months earlier than I’d planned, I’d hope that the dog-gods would smile down on us and end all jaw growth. That has not been the case. Bee’s upper jaw has continued to grow, but her lower one has not. Now everything from her upper canine teeth (fangs) forward extends beyond her lower jaw instead of just her incisors.

Bee also makes more snorfling and snuffling noises and I’m not sure what’s going on there. It might be that her tongue continues to grow, too.  Because one side of it is paralyzed, it has always curved to one side and the tip of it  protrudes from  behind a lower canine when she’s resting. The tip is still in that same place and, if her tongue really is getting longer, the extra length could be blocking the back of her mouth and airway at times.

As her nose has gotten longer, the angle between it and the rest of her skull has also become more acute. This raises the possibility that any increased length in the roof of her mouth also could be creating a mechanical obstruction when she holds her head a certain way.

Additionally, I think that either Bee can’t see as well under certain circumstances or she’s unable to process sensory data the way she used to. I say this because, in the past week or so when I push the covers back on my bed toward where she sleeps at the bottom because I’ve become too hot, she acts as if these are a threat. She instantly jumps up and vigorously sniffs and digs into them as if they were something new. This behavior does appear to be waning in the past few days, although it’s still there and I have no idea what caused it. And, yes, I could get her off the bed. But if I did, I’d have to put her in her crate at night because I can’t risk her wandering around and hurting herself. If it gets worse, I will.

Bee’s new conformation has other behavioral as well as bond implications. At first when she had one of her snorfling spells, she became very distressed. The other dogs would pick up on this and hover around her, which only made matters worse. Fortunately, over time I assume she’s figured out that she’s not going to die. That’s enabled her to stay calmer which, in turn, ends the spasm sooner as well as calms the other dogs.

On the other hand, dogs communicate with their teeth and when Bee plays will Ollie, what would be a normal mouth hold in a safe place turns out to put the wrong teeth in the wrong place. Ollie had figured out where those teeth were before and positioned himself accordingly. But now some of those teeth aren’t in the same place any more. Worse, when Ollie yells, Bee can’t hear him and I doubt she can see him from close-up play distance, either, so she misses the signals that she’s hurting him that would cause her to let him go.

Do I think BeeBee would hurt Ollie or Frica or Whit? Not intentionally. But accidentally? I’m not so sure. One event this  past week did make me think that once again, she is aware of her limitations and is looking for more acceptable alternatives. She and Ollie were doing their usual rolling around on the floor game behind me while I was working, with each trying to pin the other. Suddenly Ollie let out a godawful shriek. I whipped around fully expecting the worst, such as one of Bee’s fangs embedded in Ollie’s eyeball or sticking into his heart. Instead, BeeBee had pinned Ollie to the floor by firmly planting her fat front feet on his floppy ears. As Ollie would surely be the first to admit, it was a very effective, if unconventional canine hold!

As far as the bond implications go, I try to strike a balance between my concerns about Bee and what lies ahead for her, and my obligation to keep the other pets safe. When I see her suddenly overreact to Whit, I become angry. No, frightened. Could I ever forgive myself if she hurt him? Could I ever forgive myself if she hurt Ollie or Fric? I don’t know. But when I hold her in my lap each evening and she closes her eyes in contentment as I brush her while the rest of the animals doze peacefully, at least for a while all is right in our world.

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