Well, last time I posted here I had Jiminy resting comfortably, and I was about to feed the other guys. I don’t know if it was that I was a little less worried than I’d been before and was projecting a more cheerful vibe, or if it had nothing to do with me, but for some reason the fuzzy people were unusually excited about dinner. There was a lot of dancing around, and it was then that I thought of something I should have thought of immediately, when Jim went down. Duh.
Sosimo of Mexico weighs close to 60 pounds. Maybe because he wasn’t properly socialized as a puppy (the reason doesn’t matter, in this instance), he’s a bit of a klutz when it comes to playing with other dogs. Well, that’s actually pitching it a bit strong. He’s not so much a klutz as he is just a little physically stiff–literally. Although he curls into a tight circle to sleep, when he plays and runs his natural style is not to curl up, but to move with his legs straighter than most dogs’. He looks a little bit like a rocking horse.
One of the things he does, when he’s trying to play with me or with one of the others, is to extend his left forepaw and place it on us. Depending on his mood or what he hopes we’ll do, it can be a very delicate touch (that one he seems to save for me, if he’s not sure I’ll be in the mood, maybe), or quite a quick tap. It’s a cute thing to see–it’s definitely not hostile, and his expression is so inquisitive or hopeful or something, when he does it. Right now, though, I’m kicking myself for having encouraged it.
Because Simo loves the little dogs, especially Giovanni and Jim, and when he does this to them, it can have the effect of pinning them. Giovanni’s just over a year old, and can squiggle out from under, but Jim’s circumstances are different. For several weeks now, I’ve been trying to get Simo to understand that he shouldn’t do that to Jim. But what I was worrying about was Jim’s knees–how stupid was I, that I didn’t worry about his back?
Ai yai yai. What if, as I stood at the door at 3:30 AM on Saturday, calling Burberry in, behind my back, Simo, excited by the presence of deer and by whatever Burb was saying, began to dance around and tried to do that stiff-legged forepaw thing on Jim? He was excited; I remember. I thought it was because of Jim’s cries. But it’s actually more likely to have been the other way around. As soon as I rushed to the futon, I saw Jim trying to get up onto it, and he couldn’t. Whatever had happened to him had happened in the last few seconds.
Well, I felt very bad when I thought of this. I called MVDVM right away, and he called right back. It’s not necessary to reproduce the whole conversation. He did think that trauma was very likely, because–and this is the best news I’ve had all day–that temperature of 103.1 which I’d called in was very encouraging to him. He said that a dog isn’t considered truly febrile until 103.5; plus, he likes that it has come down almost a whole degree since we were in.
So, really, this might be great news. I asked him whether one could get a fever with trauma. He said no, but the two things could be unrelated–the high temp could really have been from the hot water bottle, and Jim’s true temperature might have been in the 103 range at that point.
So I’ll hope that this was the case, but I’ve got to figure out how to keep him safe from Simo’s play invitations, in future. Basically, my question is this–should I attempt to get Simo to stop that gesture? I would not normally think of discouraging the play language of this dog, who had such a horribly understimulated start to life, and who was, by all reports, shunned by the other dogs at his shelter. (Maybe they shunned him because he kept pinning them to the concrete. 🙂 I’m kidding–all the dogs I saw in the Mexican pictures were at least his size. He got much bigger once he came to live here, which was very strange, considering he was already two years old. Anyway, size isn’t really the issue, because Simo learned the forepaw tap a matter of weeks or even months after coming here to live).
But I will ask the trainer who’s going to be working with Sawyere. Maybe I should be attempting to modify Simo’s body language. More likely, I think I need to get this whole area carpeted again. I think older dogs might need carpet, to get around safely. If anyone reading this has knowledge or ideas about this topic, please write a comment! Den Mother has told me about a wonderfully washable carpet option made from recycled beverage bottles. She has it in her house, and it’s beautiful. Maybe that will be the way to go. That way Jim will have something to push up against, if he feels Simo’s forepaw descending on his back. Annie will like it much better, too, although she has learned to manage very nicely on the linoleum.
For now, though, I’ll crate Jim when I have to leave the house. I want him to have the comfort of the familiar sounds and smells and visits of the other dogs, without letting him be vulnerable. He’s in his crate right now, in fact, with the door open, and Simo and Giovanni are quite near him, chewing gently on one another. I know that, when I’m sick, I like knowing that life is going on normally around me–it gives me incentive to rejoin it as soon as possible.