20 Oct

Our clinic has a client that I’ll call Mr. F. He’s a kind man who prefers to adopt Jack Russel Terriers (JRT). He became our client during a time when he owned two great dogs. The kind of JRT of myth. JRT’s tend to be hyper, aggressive, not the ideal breed. But under Mr. F’s loving care, his JRT’s were loyal, happy, and loving. After one of his JRTs passed away, he went to a shelter and adopted a new one. He named him Roger.

He has owned the dog for a year, but I hadn’t dealt with Roger until Wednesday when Mr. F brought him in for a dental and wart removal. The dog was strange. That’s the only way to describe it. A large “B.C.” was emblazoned on the record. It stands for “Be Careful” and is our clinic’s tactful way of saying the dog or cat is aggressive and for lack of a better term, bad. But Roger wasn’t your typical snarler or swipe biter or growling pet. He wouldn’t bite when placing a catheter or during restraint. The dog would stand there and turn to bite without rhyme or reason. He would do it in a slow, nonlogical way. The more I worked with the dog, the more it seemed less aggressive, more neurologically compromised. It reminded me of autism.

I’ve read a couple of books on autism and what fascinates me about the condition is how we don’t understand it. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the spectrum and figure out how the autistic brain works. Of course, if it is present in animals, we would understand it even less as the animal brain is even harder to interpret.

Last Spring, I spent some time volunteering with autistic children during horseback riding lessons. The variety of the conditions and their reactions to different occurrences and stimuli was fascinating. Something about the look some of them would get in their eyes made me so curious as to what they could be thinking and feeling. Roger would get a similar look. Staring at a corner of his cage or looking right at me without reaction. At home, he is difficult. He will bite people randomly, cries as soon as he goes outside and is fearful of certain toys and people. When I mentioned to Dr. L that the behavior reminded me of autism, she began to agree. But how are we to know for sure?

When Mr. F came to pick up Roger at the end of the day, I witnessed one of the most heart-wrenching acts of love. The dog meandered up to the front waiting room, looked at his owner and had no reaction. I have never seen that before. Not a tail wag, not a faster pace to the owner, nothing. Mr. F crouched on the floor, his arms directed toward the dog. “Roger, it’s daddy. C’mon, Roger, didn’t you miss me?” But the dog just stared at the walls. I felt his frustration, and I admired the love and attention this man could put into a dog that simply doesn’t respond, doesn’t return affection. It was fascinating.

Any vet techs out there seen anything similar?


11 Responses to “Roger”

  1. JesstheLVT October 20, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    Maybe a referral to a neurologist is warranted. I don’t know if the owner would be up for that, but disorders like bran rumors or even types of epileptic seizures can cause random aggression.

    • JesstheLVT October 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

      Make that brain tumors…. Not bran rumors!! 🙂

      • Chrissy October 21, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

        I figured you meant brain tumors, but bran rumors was pretty amusing to read!

      • JesstheLVT October 21, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

        My autocorrect has such a sense of rumor. Or humor…

  2. Danguole October 21, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Bran rumors… Those make ME randomly aggressive. Muffins are catty bitches, ya know?

    • Chrissy October 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      Oh you food blogger you!

  3. vettechstudentcom October 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    I like your tactic for warning labels on your patient files! Our practice needs to do something similar… however it’s a really small practice and I am the only part-time worker so I think I’m just the one who gets the short stick since I don’t know most of the animals when everyone else does. 😦

    Roger is lucky to have found such a caring owner! I have not seen anything like that myself. I feel sorry for the owner but I’m sure Roger appreciates it in his own way.

    • Chrissy October 22, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

      The owner has a lot of love in his heart for that dog. And I’ve thought about writing a post about our various tactful hospital abbreviations. Maybe I will now!

  4. Marin Vet October 30, 2013 at 1:25 am #

    When do you plan to post again?

    • Chrissy October 30, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

      Hopefully tonight and definitely within the next week! You can also subscribe to my site and receive an email when I publish posts.

  5. Cathryn January 6, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I am a technician who works in neurology- this type of behavior can indicate intracranial disease of any sort- tumor, infection, immune medication disease, etc. I would absolutely recommend getting it checked out- behavior changes of any sort, especially aggression, needs to be addressed! Good luck!

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