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Boy's "off" look

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I took this picture last year when Boy was acting all wierd on me but filed it away in the wrong place and didn't find it until yesterday.


This is Boy's "off" look that I described in the past. I haven't seen this look at all this year.


It's similar to his deferent look, his pitiful look, and his "I'm about to get my ears cleaned" look.


I was on the computer (probably here on the boards) when I snapped this pic. I turned around and he was just staring at me like that. He did that now and then during that time.


What made this look so unsettling is that he wouldn't respond to me. If I asked him if he wanted to go outside, or told him to get outta here or whatever, his expression would not change. He'd just stare at me like that and not move.


You may recall that I described that "off" look when I took him to the vet. This is the look that the vet saw. He was lying down when she came in and as soon as she saw him she asked what was wrong with him. She called him to her in her happy voice and he just kept staring. A minute later the vet tech came in to take him, picked up his leash, and he didn't budge. She called happily and tugged on the leash and he still didn't budge, just kept staring at her like that. I finally got up and headed out the door and he followed me. When he came back he hid under my chair. This was way out of character for him. That's when the vet said there's something wrong with him, this isn't the Boy I know, and suggested that I send him to a neurologist.


One time I walked past him in the hall on the way to the bathroom. He was sitting in the hall and just looked at me like that as I passed by and his eyes were even more creepy than in this pic. He just sat there and followed me with his eyes as I walked by him. I really didn't trust him when he looked like that!


There were many times that I would find him looking at me like that from across the room or whatever. Finding this picture yesterday really brought back alot of memories from that time. I hope I never see this look on his beautiful face again!

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This look was probably not seizures. There's a long story to this and it's included below.


Here's what's not included:


He'd mess with his ears intensely now and then for a few months, even though the vet and I saw nothing at all wrong. He'd do that on his "off" days.


He was on a course of Doxycycline towards the end of his personality change, and two days in a row he had some sort of anxiety attack. His eyes got all worried and he ran from room to room looking around frantically. He wouldn't even take a treat from me.


He jumped up and bit me in December when there was food around. It didn't hurt or leave a mark. Gramma and I got meat out to prepare dinner and I waved him out of the kitchen, so he bit me.


He also bit hubby twice that month, both times for for making him move out of the way. Again, didn't hurt and didn't leave a mark.


I think the rest of the details are included below in the posts I saved.


He's back to normal now. He's happy, obedient, doesn't mess with his ears anymore, doesn't look at me funny or act wierd, etc. For a while there I was really worried about him and when he had that look in his eyes I didn't really trust him.


Looking back on it all, I think it was both behavioral and medical.


There are lots of posts I saved so I'll break them up...

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posted 07-08-2005


What am I doing wrong???


Boyden had a little food guarding thing going on before Fynne. I hand fed him from day one, did (and do) the NILIF thing, and have been a strong leader (I thought).


He had a big store bone months back and went after the cat when he walked by. He showed unreasonable aggression at that stray pup months back when the pup was in a crate with a bone. He had shown mild and normal guarding towards Fynne ("smile" and that's about all it took) until very recently. Knowing he had a food guarding issue, I took care to work with him on it when Fynne got here.


Several days ago I had Fynne outside eating. A while later I let Boy out with me and he went straight to her food and scared her off just by going to it. I immediately put him back in the house and in a down-stay for a while.


The other day (was that yesterday?) I had Fynne in her crate eating and Boy jumped against the crate snarling and all, trying to get the food. Totally surprised me and ticked me off. He was put in a down-stay in the tub (and away from me) for at least half an hour, then taken outside on leash for the rest of his trips outside that night, and I had him heel instead of walk regular. I also ran him through all of his commands and refused to play with him.


See this dog?


[there was a picture of a dog here]


This is EXACTLY what Boyden did to me a short while ago. He didn't snarl quite as big but he did "smile" at me (mouth closed clearly showing front teeth) just like he does to Fynne, and his eyes were EXACTLY the same as in this picture. His ears went up and forward.


Here's how it happened:


Boy and I had just gotten home from a fun outing. Fynne was just finishing up her share of a pork shoulder roast in her crate when we came in. I took the roast from Fynne (because she had eaten her share) and gave it to Boy. After a few minutes I called Fynne over and sat between Boy and Fynne, with about 4 feet between them. This has been fine to him in the past as long as I am there.


I put Fynne in a down and grabbed the edge of the towel that the meat was on. I pulled it towards me and Fynne an inch or so. I had planned to tell Boy what a good boy he is for not protesting and have Fynne leave.


Instead he "smiled" at her. I said (not yelled) "hey" and that son of a bitch looked at me with his head down and glared at me exactly like in that picture and smiled. I stared back at him and he took a step towards me without blinking.


I'm not totally stupid. I averted my gaze, took a step back, cheerfully said something about going outside and both dogs went out while I put the meat in the fridge.


Now here I am asking for help.


I know Boy is a dominant dog by nature. You all know I love him but I am very strict with him for this reason, not in a mean way by any means, but I don't let him get away with much at all.


Up until just a week or so ago I was able to take any great food right out of his mouth and he didn't care at all, just perked his ears up expectantly like when I have a treat for him. I could restrain him and position him and he'd be fine with that. I could make him move when he was sleeping, get off the couch with nothing but a wave of my hand...


In case you didn't see the thread, he bit me on two seperate occasions. Both times I was reaching for his collar when he had done something wrong. Apparently his previous owners grabbed him by the collar when he was in trouble and did who knows what to him so that he felt the need to defend himself. Each instance he bit me twice, for a total of 4 bites. None hurt and none left the slightest mark. His expression was totally different those times than it was tonight. I've been grabbing his collar while in a rough voice telling him what a good boy he is and giving him treats and he's showing much less apprehension when I do.


I already contacted a behaviorist for this problem but I'd like to hear what you all might have to say since you "know" me and Boy.


Why did he challenge me tonight? Why didn't he do something more "normal" like other dogs when they are guarding their food? I wouldn't have done that with Fynne nearby if I hadn't had them near eachother many times before. He never showed any guarding when I was by him while he was eating and Fynne happened to come by me. He knows Fynne wouldn't dare try to take something from him and he knows that I wouldn't let her anyway. When I pulled the towel towards us a bit and he protested, should I have kept my mouth shut and just held still until he was ok and called it good for the day? Was it the "hey" spoken quietly in a low voice that caused him to behave like that? It's the same tone of "hey" that I use when I tell him to sit and he doesn't. It's not a "you're in big trouble" hey.


Help me please. He could have hurt me really bad tonight and to be quite honest, I was very afraid.

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posted 07-08-2005


I took Boyden to the vet and told her a bit about some things he's been doing lately. He was acting strange (not himself) while there and she said there's definately something not right about him. I asked her if she thought it was behavioral and she said that might be part of it, but that she was really concerned with what she was seeing because "that's not the Boy I know".


She listened to his breathing and said it didn't sound normal to her, so we did x-rays. He has a bit of infection and interstitial (sp) patterning (still gotta look that one up, more than she would expect to see at his age, and that his heart appeared a little enlarged. She said she wasn't overly concerned by anything she was seeing on the x-rays though.


She drew blood for a full body panel (thyroid, liver, kidneys, etc.) and a heartworm test. She said she'll probably refer him to a neurologist but will wait for the results to come in tomorrow. She gave me her home and cell number in case I need her.


What happened last night was more than what you think, based on most posts and suggestions. I'm almost positive that if I hadn't backed off that he would have really hurt me. (I can't believe I'm actually saying that. ) Nothing I have ever come up against from a dog has ever made me so afraid. I let them out, shut the door, then started shaking and just cried. I've been crying on and off since. He glared at me with cold, hard eyes and took a step towards me when I stared back at him. He didn't growl, he just stood there with his head lowered a bit and his body frozen and stared at me and smiled, then took a step towards me without blinking. THIS IS NOT LIKE HIM!!!


On the way back from North Carolina I had a couple hours to kill in the swampy area of Louisiana. I took some back roads and ended up on a pretty little gravel road along a lake with lots of pretty little houses. Someone's black lab was loose and followed my car. We were driving really slow. Anyway, Boy usually barks at dogs or even people when he's in the car. He's still learning what "shhh" means. He didn't just bark at this dog, but he went crazy. I was a bit concerned that he would break the windows trying to get at him or jump on my head or something. He was vicious, not like the Cujo he used to be (acts big and bad but doesn't really mean it), but vicious.


He did something similar a few days ago when Fynne was eating in her crate. He was all over that crate and was downright vicious. Even if she did give him dirty looks or something, his reaction was WAY over the top, same as the car incident. This all started just very recently.


Boyden has never shown aggression towards me when it comes to food. If he's eating and I call him, he happily trots to me. If I approach him while eating, he just looks at me like "hi mom" and isn't the slightest bit uncomfortable. I'm always cautious about taking food away from any dog but he's never resisted or shown any resentment about it at all. Even if my idea of having Fynne near while he was eating yesterday was a bad idea, it still doesn't explain why he did what he did.


Even if there is a medical reason for his behavior I'll still see the behaviorist. I'm sure I'm doing some things wrong.


Annette, what you described about the sneaky and alpha/beta and all makes some sense. It doesn't explain the overreaction but it definately makes sense and I'll run that by the behaviorist.


When Boy went after the cat over the bone months back I did something similar, sorta. I took the bone and got the cat and sat down near Boy, put the bone down and put the cat on top of it. I told him that's MY bone and that there's no reason for him to act like that, blah blah blah. It went over well with him. Never had a problem after that, though the cat doesn't really go by Boy when he's eating.


I'm tired and just putting my thoughts on here more than anything. Sorry to get so detailed but I can always come back to this thread for future reference. I'll see what the vet and the behaviorist has to say. Thanks for being there for me.

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posted 07-09-2005


I'm typing this for my own benefit for later...


I don't know if what's been going on with Boy lately is behavioral or organic or both. I could see it going both ways.


There have been some subtle changes in Boy recently. I'd noticed a week or so before going to NC that he seemed a little "off". He was eating and drinking well, playful, full of energy, etc. He just acted funny sometimes. Sometimes there was a look in his eyes that was different. He usually has soft, friendly, happy and even playful eyes, or he has focused and expectant eyes, like when we are training.


The last several days I've seen the look alot more. It's almost as if he's wary of me, or doesn't trust me. It's not a fearful look, but a "I don't know if I trust you or not" look.


Say I tell him to sit and he doesn't. As always I will enforce it, by going to him and putting my hand on his butt if I have to. That seems to be happening more frequently lately. The look he gives me is almost like he doesn't want to be told what to do, but will do it. This is new, though I haven't changed the way I do things.


Today he's been looking at me like that alot. He follows me with his eyes but they are not soft. They are not hard either, but unsettling just the same.


He has been soliciting attention from me all day today, something he hasn't done since I first adopted him. As in the beginning, he will put his chin on my lap and look up at me. He also licked my neck real slow and soft, just like he did at the shelter when I was checking him out.


He is not the most affectionate dog and does not ask for attention by pawing or bringing toys or things like that. I can call him to me and initiate affection in certain ways, like running my hands over his face, or doing my own little version of wiggle-butt. That gets his butt wiggling and he'll walk between my legs while I wiggle and rub his back. His tail always wags and we both love it. On an average day I spend very little time petting him unless it's praise for doing something I asked. It's not often that I pet him just for the sake of petting him.


Ok, so maybe he's been seeing a way to move up the ladder and he's been eyeballing me. Maybe the attention seeking is related to last night's incidence. So I lean towards behavioral problem with this train of thought and feel that I've not been the leader I should be.


But on the other hand, how does that explain his behavior towards the vet today? He loves Dr. Martin. He's very comfortable at the vet and has always happily gone to her like the stereotypical happy lab. Today was different the second she walked in the door though, and she commented on it right away.


He looked at her funny. He didn't show any interest when she called him to her, even in an excited voice. VERY unlike him, but when the vet tech came in to bring him into x-ray and picked up his leash, he didn't get up. She called and then even tugged and he just stared at her. I even told him "ok" (release command) and to go, but he just laid there and stared. I finally had to go out the door so he would follow. When he came back in from x-ray he hid under my chair. Also NOT AT ALL like him.


Dr. Martin was pretty confident that he's sick somehow and was very concerned. So that's why I'm wondering if this is a behavioral thing or a medical issue.


Boyden has been staring at me alot today and it's kind of giving me the creeps. This is a recent thing that's becoming more common. It has given me the creeps a few times before, like when I go to enforce the sit and he looks at me like that.


I'm anxious to see that behaviorist! And get some medical answers! I don't know which I want more.


I've wondered if Fynne might have something to do with it. I don't know how. While looking up "dominant dogs" in books and online, it says the dominant ones demand attention, block you, push you, jump on you, don't like to be handled, have guarding issues, talk back, yadda yadda yadda. That's Fynne to a T! The last thing I would call her is dominant though. She's fearful and quick to act submissively.


Boyden on the other hand is a dominant dog to me. He's confident without being cocky. He's calm, collected, cool, not easily ruffled, takes things in stride. He does not get submissive. He would never submit to Fynne but Fynne will quickly submit to him.


If Fynne's eating and I or Boy go by her food, she'll act all big and tough, bark, snarl, growl, grab her food and run off, but she'll put her ears back and tuck her tail in. (Of course she's not that bad anymore since I've been working with her alot on this.)


If Fynne goes near Boy when he's eating, he just smiles, puts his ears and tail up, and that's it. Takes less than a second. Fynne wouldn't dare try to take his food but he can just walk up and take her food and she'll run off with her tail between her legs. (That happened once and I've since taken measures to be sure it doesn't happen again.)


So who's dominant? I say Boy is but nearly all that I read says that Fynne is.


Fynne has gotten too pushy with Boy a few times and he has quickly put her in her place. Twice I've seen him throw her on her back and put his mouth on her throat, then let her up and act like nothing happened. She looks like she's totally embarassed when he does that and acts like a puppy towards him.


Speaking of which, watching him with her is very similar to watching a dog with a puppy. He lets her get away with alot of crap! It reminds me SOO much of Mickey when Taz was a pup. The behaviorist said he's a good teacher dog like she uses to help dogs learn to be dogs.


That has me thinking. Maybe I'm not being enough of a leader in that respect so am letting him down. Most of the time she is in here with me. Boy is not allowed in here, so they are not usually right near eachother. Sometimes she'll go out and pester him to play (which he's always happy to do) and I'll let them outside to get rid of some energy. They run and run and play. She's usually the one chasing him, biting him on the neck, making a bunch of noise. He doesn't seem to mind though and if she goes off he will try to get her to play some more.


In the house she can get on both of our nerves. If I call Boy to me she will cut in front of him and run to me first. I always push her back and if she keeps at it I'll crate her. I can't really interact with Boy, whether playing or training, without crating her because she HAS to be the center of attention. She'll very rudely push her way between us but I'll keep her away, crating her more often than not because she's thick as a brick and doesn't get it yet. Grrr.


But anyway, maybe he resents her getting between us and resents me because I haven't put a complete stop to it. Maybe that's a small part of the problem?


Just thinking things out here.

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posted 07-09-2005


The vet called and said everything came back normal except the BUN (something to do with kidneys) was fairly elevated, same as Fynne. She wants me to come talk to her the day after we see the behaviorist and we'll go from there.


Oh gosh, don't let your eyes get leaky on me Tammy! And certainly don't abruptly stop his steroid dose if he's on them now. That can cause some serious damage because the body stops making the natural hormones when they're on steroids, so stopping cold turkey can really hurt them.


I know from personal experience that steroids can alter your emotional state. They can make you laugh or cry or feel scared or angry for no reason.


Boyden seems his old self today. I hid his dinner in a tree then sat down under the shade tree while he looked for it. He found it and brought it over to where I was and ate it. Totally normal. In all other ways he's been normal today too. We did a little training and a little playing.


On another subject, my husband has claimed Fynne as his own, saying she is his dog and Boy is mine. He watched me do some training with both of them, then gave it a try himself. He sucks! Boy minded him really well despite the commands being different. Fynne didn't have a clue what he was asking and when he finally commanded her properly, she still blew him off! I told him it's because she knows that his commands are a mere suggestion and not a command at all. Maybe it will finally sink in!




Maybe I didn't describe well enough what happened the other night, but anyone who advised me to do anything other than what I did is wrong and giving out DANGEROUS advice.


When a dog freezes, silently stares you down, lowers it's head and snarls (smiles) with it's ears up and forward, you are a split second from being bit and have one choice - and that is to back down and give the dog some room. Any other action you take will result in a bite at that point.


I don't know why that happened the other night. I'm trying to find out. But I do know for a fact that I did the right thing (I am 100% confident on this) and the advice I've heard about that in particular has me concerned.


I'm hoping I just did a poor job of describing what happened.


Boyden is a dominant dog. Dominant meaning confident, sure of himself, a natural top dog and alpha-type. I don't mean dominant like pushy, bossy, etc. His ears go up, not back, when he's serious. Fynne tries to look all kinds of mean but her ears go back. She doesn't have a fraction of the confidence of Boyden. Boy doesn't feel the need to put on such a show.


Dogs put their ears back as a way of protecting them in a fight, just like they protect their genitals by tucking their tail under.


[there was a picture here]


This is similar to what Boy did that night. His head was lowered a bit and his eyes were wide open, and I could clearly see the whites of his eyes under the pupils, just like in the picture I posted on the first page of this thread. The other differences were that his lips were not pulled back on the sides like that (from my perspective and past experience) and there were not wrinkles on top of his muzzle (at least not like in the pic). He lifted the front of his lips to show his front teeth though, what I call a "smile". He did not growl, but was silent. I thought "who the heck do you think you are" and stood up and stared back at him and was about to "give him hell". That's when he stepped towards me without blinking and I backed down.

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posted 09-01-2005


We went up to Texas A&M. Had to bring Fynne because all kennels are full of Louisiana dogs. Hubby kept her occupied the 3+ hours we were there.


Dr. Haug doesn't know what is wrong with Boy either. Could be physiological. Could be purely behavioral. Could be a million things. The majority of her time with Boy and I was doing the neuro exam and disussion the many things that could be the culprit.


There's a thread here that Laura posted a while back. It shows how far back a dog's neck can flex backwards. When she did that to Boy, his left eye deviated down and inward. Not every time, and she did it several times. I just showed my husband the freaky neck thing on Boy and his left eye did it again.


We could do a bunch of tests that would cost a fortune, but there's no guarantee it would do any good. Even if it did detect something, there's no guarantee that they could do anything about it. I'm dealing with my own problems now, so have passed on any scans or anything.


Though I did not get any answers in that regard, I did learn something. Boy has something wrong with his back. She seriously doubts it would have anything to do with his aggression towards me (which I haven't seen in quite some time) but it is something I'll have checked out, at least with an x-ray for now. On a healthy spine you should be able to press down quite hard. Doing so to Boy caused him obvious discomfort.


I'm sorry I haven't been on the boards much lately. I've been doing alot of research on things. I miss you guys.


On a brighter note, Boy is in his 6th week of heartworm treatment, so he can start getting a little, tiny bit of exercise now.


She did a total neuro exam on him. It was interesting to watch, especially the differences between a human one and a canine one. The neuro exam took a good half hour or so. She touched his eyeballs with some cotton to see his blink reflex. She did all kinds of interesting things that would take a long time to describe. There were only three abnormal findings. One was the eye deviation. Another was his spine.


The last was his deep tendon reflexes. He was very brisk (or brisque?), basically overreactive. It was likely due to him being tense. You know when you go to the doc and they tap that tendon under your kneecap? Your leg should jump just a little. His legs kicked right out! It was kinda funny how extreme his reflexes were, not just on his legs, but all over. She said it was excessive but probably due to him being tense. They did alot of things to him, some of which were quite uncomfortable for him. He was a real trooper though and never once whined or growled or anything.


posted 09-28-2005


I got home late last night. There was no hold up in traffic either, so that's good.


Boyden was a bad boy the whole time we were gone. I hadn't asked much of anything from him during his HW treatment and it was only a week before we left that he started getting a little exercise again.


Well, his little Cujo act returned, so much so that he pulled me down trying to go after a man walking by. He did that to everyone, even little old ladies and children. He is such a good boy and a sweet boy, but he's had aggressive tendencies since I got him and I suppose those tendencies will always be under the surface. I've already begun working on that again and will continue to do so.


He's also gotten into stuff he shouldn't. We spent so much time in the car, sometimes sleeping in the car when the rooms were all full. That little stinker had pizza, steak, cake, cat food and kitty cookies. As a result his ears are infected again and I'll be taking him in to the vets. Grrr.

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posted 10-02-2005


Fynne first:


Our neighbor came over today and Fynne did not growl or bark!!! He was in the house too! She sat there calmly in her crate, so a few minutes later I let her out. She huffed at him a couple of times but was otherwise surprisingly relaxed and mostly unconcerned. She even went up to him and sniffed his hand. I was floored and very happy!




About Boy...


Boy has been showing alot of aggressive behavior lately (not towards me), he's begun to show a certain amount of paranoia when it comes to food, and he's become reluctant to obey.


We were driving down the expressway during our evac and I glanced back to check on him. He was looking straight forward, his expression was weird and his eyes were bugged out. It was like that for I guess 15 seconds. Don't know how long he was like that before I looked back. There was nothing ahead of us that could explain it.


His tendon reflexes were all very exaggerated during his neuro exam. His one eye deviated down and inwards when his head was brought back, and he gets hiccups alot, sometimes several times a day.


I try not to read too much into it. I mean, what are the chances that we both have brain damage? I think I'd have better chances of getting struck by lightning.


Maybe it's the 7 weeks of no activity and asking little of him. Maybe part of it was my being sick. Maybe his true colors are just now showing. Maybe it's a combination of things.


The bugged out eyes thing worried me.


We'll see if a lower value food provides at least some answers. I'm thinking of Innova EVO.


posted 10-08-2005


UGH! Just now I was sitting here at the computer. My husband is in the kitchen cutting a turkey up into pieces for the dogs. I heard Fynne whining.


I went in there and Fynne was sitting right behind my husband, and Boy was sitting about two feet away, both staring intently at what he was doing.


I do not allow that type of behavior with me and I wish my husband would not let them do it either. I called Fynne to me first and as she turned to come to me, Boy snarled at her.


I said "hey" in a disapproving tone and told him to "get outta here". That's an actual command. He just looked at me. I took a step forward to use my body as pressure and waved my hand (goes with the "get outta here" command) and he jumped up and snapped at me. I could see that his heart wasn't in it but it doesn't matter.


No, it's not a big, sweeping wave of the hand that he would take as a physical threat. It's a slight waving of the hand.


This aggression has been escalating for a couple/few months now. He did this very same thing to a man that did nothing but walk by when we evacuated too.


How long will it be before he bites me or someone else? What the heck is wrong with him? I don't expect you to tell me what it is because at this point we just don't know and I can't afford to have his head scanned.


I'm just upset and wanted to share and I wish I had the money to have this checked out thoroughly.

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