December 2, 2011

snippets xi-xvi

In the civilian dog world, a growing number of animal behaviorists seem to be endorsing the concept of canine PTSD, saying it also affects household pets who experience car accidents and even less traumatic events.

Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, director of the animal behavior clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuft University, said he had written about and treated dogs with PTSD-like symptoms for years — but did not call it PTSD until recently. Asked if the disorder could be cured, Dr. Dodman said probably not.

“It is more management,” he said. “Dogs never forget.”

- Anahad O'Connor, "Dogs and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," New York Times


Speaking of which, Ondine has been doing better with passing cars - still not great, but well enough that I've felt OK about switching her out of the prong collar and back into a SENSE-ible dog harness. (We use it in conjunction with a loose martingale, which helps keep the front straps from dragging across her shoulders. The harness doesn't fit too well, though. We'll probably have to go to the next size up.) With the harness she tends to grab the leash when she gets agitated. It's manageable, but she is fast and flexible and can twist herself in unimaginable ways to get at it. It's like she's part owl. I can't have her gnawing it, of course, but it's a useful behavior since she's turning her attention away from the cars, which creates an opening to play. She's pretty good about letting it go if I engage her in something else right away. Praise, treats and good rub-downs all work well. (Also, my leash-handling skills are co-evolving with her. At this point I could probably rope a goat blindfolded.)

Maybe I'm over-anthropomorphizing, but my impression grows stronger day by day that she's trying really hard to work through this stuff. Lots of give-and-take.


  1. Yeah, even though we have never hit Heiden (and never will), he still flinches whenever our hands come near his head. Someone must've hit him in his former life and he hasn't forgotten it if he still fears it from us. So, indeed they never forget.

    Also, was Ondine hit by a car? (Sorry, I don't remember that part of her background).

  2. Yes, we think so. When she dislocated her hip, we discovered that her pelvis had been shattered in a previous injury and left to mend on its own. The doc thought it happened six months to a year before we adopted her. (It was a traumatic injury. Her left pelvis looks like rubble on the x-ray.)