Tag Archives: Jack Russel Terriers

Roger

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?