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Hi folks: I have received some excellent, thoughtful (lifesaving, even) advice hereabouts in the past, and thought I would run this one by you-all.

 

I just pulled a yearling female BC from a local shelter as a foster. She has several odd traits, that I wonder if anyone has seen in combination:

 

1 -- she will sometimes act like she sees something that's not there -- like a collie would follow a light beam or an insect -- except there isn't one (honest!)

 

2 -- she will twirl in place and yip, many times/day -- not constantly, but often. She did this in the shelter, in her kennel, I'm told -- might this be left over from that, or more likely independent? How can I help her to stop?

 

3 -- she sleeps like the dead -- verry soundly, in her crate.

 

4 -- she has a normal black/white head and tail area and rough, but her back coat is a rich mahogany. Could she have bleached-out in the NorCal summer sun? Selectively? She is well-fed, and her coat is thick and fine-textured.

 

Thanks for any thoughts you might offer.

 

Her image may be found here: http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j13/tfcu...pg?t=1247777262

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The first three traits sound like my dog Jun! She will often stare and bark at nothing. She's always been an odd one, but this started out of the blue a few months ago. I think she does it for attention, and she's been getting better, since I've been ignoring it. She also has always paced in circles and chased her tail. She doesn't yip at the same time, but she will bark/growl at her tail. She also sleeps like the dead whenever she sleeps, but she is deaf, so noises don't disturb her. I have to touch her or stomp on the ground to wake her up. She doesn't always realize when she is tired, so sometimes when she's running in circles, I will put her in her crate and she'll be out like a light in a couple minutes.

 

Sounds like your girl needs some structure, and a job to do. Jun was quite insane, and even more OCD than she is now, when I got her at 8 months old, never having had any of either, but now is almost an easy dog to live with!

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1 and 3 describe Annie. In Annie's case, when she stares at a spot where there is nothing to see, it is in an area where past dogs used to frequent in the family room; the pet psychic claims she is sensing the spirit of those who have gone before her...

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She also sleeps like the dead whenever she sleeps, but she is deaf, so noises don't disturb her. I have to touch her or stomp on the ground to wake her up. She doesn't always realize when she is tired, so sometimes when she's running in circles, I will put her in her crate and she'll be out like a light in a couple minutes.

 

Interesting comment about deafness -- I just named her and she not been responsive to it yet, but I will pursue the possibility that she can't hear it. Thanks!

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If she isn't deaf, then she has very little hearing at all is my guess.

 

That was what I was going to say. My sheltie isn't completely deaf but he only seems to be able to hear a few frequencies. In order to wake him up you also have to stomp or touch him to get him moving.

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When I first brought my dog home from the shelter, he'd been penned from February to June, with whatever small breaks from the kennel he got. (He was terrified and spent his time there hiding.) For the first few weeks, he would just spin in circles - it seemed like pure happiness to be out of the small space. I think it didn't quite register that he could go in straight lines, like his legs wanted to. Once he figured that out, the twirling stopped. He'll still do it when he's really, really excited to see a good friend. Other, non-penned dogs we've met play that way, too, so it may have nothing to do with the kennel.

 

Good luck!

 

Mary

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Hi genghisdad,

 

From the picture, it does look to me as though she has some brown tones to her head (the picture or my computer could be misleading, though). One thing about the coloring on the rest of the body: one of my boys, Jack, is black and white, but the undercoat on his body is that same mahogany as your girl. Although on your dog, it does seem as though it is definitely a reddish-brown, no black. Does she have any black in her body coat? What color is her nose? That is usually an indicator of coloring. Interesting, but still beautiful!

 

Also, I think that checking her hearing is a good idea, because that does sound like it might be an issue. However, Jack also came out of a shelter, and when we brought him home, he was EXHAUSTED for days. He slept a lot like you have described, and I think it was partially from finally being able to exercise (which he wasn't used to), and not sleeping well in the kennel because of all of the barking dogs. That is a point to consider, if she is reacting otherwise to sound.

 

As far as the twirling and yipping, that sounds alot to me like an obsessive/compulsive trait that may have been developed out of boredom in the kennel. I am certainly not an "expert" on that at all, since I have never seen anything like it first hand, but it just seems like it could be.

 

I hope that she settles in well, and has a great life. You are very kind to help her find her way!

 

Karrin

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Our Josie "twirles". She does this when she sees something that she would like to get to but can't. If she sees a dog going by or someone in a cart, etc.

Also, she sleeps very soundly if both my husband and I are in the same room. If one of us isn't in the house she doesn't sleep as soundly....we can actually watch her ears making movement to pick up sound.

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Yes indeedy -- vet and I made quite a racket -- she's deaf as a post.

 

Thanks for the tip -- I might've tumbled to it eventually, but only after some frustration regarding her ignoring my communications.

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From the picture, it does look to me as though she has some brown tones to her head (the picture or my computer could be misleading, though). One thing about the coloring on the rest of the body: one of my boys, Jack, is black and white, but the undercoat on his body is that same mahogany as your girl. Although on your dog, it does seem as though it is definitely a reddish-brown, no black. Does she have any black in her body coat? What color is her nose? That is usually an indicator of coloring. Interesting, but still beautiful!

 

Her head and tail are darker, with some brown mixed-in. There's a breeder/boys' home hereabouts that comes up with a gorgeous shade of chocolate brown -- one shelter boy I think may have been born there was so strikingly handsome I just had to name him Clooney. I may check-in with them about Mocha, as well, although they had no recollection of Clooney.

 

Thanks again, everybody -- big help!

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Yes indeedy -- vet and I made quite a racket -- she's deaf as a post.

 

Thanks for the tip -- I might've tumbled to it eventually, but only after some frustration regarding her ignoring my communications.

 

Great! (Not that she's deaf, but that you figured it out.) If you want any deaf dog advice, feel free to PM me. I'm learning as I go with my first one, but we've figured out a fair amount so far.

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I'd work on breaking the twirling habit now, if at all possible. OC behaviors like that become more ingrained and more difficult to stop the longer they go on. I have one who twirls and sometimes runs into things (like the bumper to my van) because she's busy twirling and not paying attention to where she is in relation to anything else.

 

J.

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I'd work on breaking the twirling habit now, if at all possible. OC behaviors like that become more ingrained and more difficult to stop ...

 

Yup. I'm trying to intervene in a consistent way that diverts her, without rewarding (or punishing) the twirling -- that's my theory, anyway. Wish me luck!

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What is her mood like when she's twirling? Is there any chance she's anxious or worried about something? In people, anxiety usually underlies compulsive behaviors. I'm not sure if this is the same with dogs, but I have observed it with Indy. Indy often spins on walks out in the neighborhood. He hadn't had many experiences with the world before I got him a couple months ago and I think all the sights and sounds overwhelm him (his tail and posture indicate that he is frightened). He doesn't spin nearly as often when we walk on the quiet, secluded trails in the park. I do try to interrupt the behavior because I think it becomes self-perpetuating. One thing that has been helpful with Indy is for someone else to hold his leash while I walk out in front of him. This seems to help him feel more confident and get him walking in a straight line. When I'm by myself, sometimes I just need to stop and help him settle a bit before continuing.

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My Chevy (non-BC/Heinz 57) does 1-3. She is, however, completely deaf.

She's very alert with her eyes and will stare at light/shadows and sometimes bark at them. She's the official bug hunter in the house and can spot an ant from a ridiculous distance. She's also very good at pointing out the cobwebs.

Chevy definitely twirls but does not bark - it's her way of saying "I'm happy, get a move on so I can eat." My neighbor's BC-mixes constantly twirl and bark; they even bark at the holes they dig in the backyard.

And since she can't hear, she sleeps like the dead... more like the living dead since she doesn't close her eyes completely. She has a milky-white membrane that covers her eyes instead of the lids and we call her Zombie Dog when she's down for the count.

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You can start right now with both the deafness and the twirling. Carry delicious treats with you everywhere and teach her a "good girl" sign. Mine is pinching my fingers together a couple times like ccatching flies, to the side of my deaf dog's head.

 

Try not to stare at her a lot or make a huge deal of the twirling. BUT, periodically look at her and make the "good girl" sign (obviously not when she's twirling or staring at things). Remember you'll need to be near her at first. Then turn into a Pez dispenser - make the sign, treat, sign, treat, sign, treat.

 

Give her a LONG time to put two and two together. You'll know she's figuring it out, when she starts coming over on her own and staring at you, rather than going off an amusing herself with the staring and twirling.

 

Then add a few obedience commands. Look up the signs for sit, down, and stay if you don't already know them. The formal obedience signs are good and easy to be consistent. I use three distinct slaps on my thigh for the recall. "OK" as a release is a scooping motion like I'm patting his butt from a distance. This lets him go through doors and out of the car, in addition to release from stays and whatnot.

 

What you want is for her to think you are the Coolest Thing Ever. Assuming her behaviors aren't physiological in origin, she should get her kicks from following you around and wondering what you are going to do next. This will also solve your next issue, which will be off leash behavior. IF she knows you are there, she'll be constantly checking in to see what you might want from her.

 

Probably the off color coat is icky diet and sun fading.

 

Good luck! I grew up in South San Francisco.

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Interesting that all the deaf dogs exhibit a similar behavior. We think our young dog is completely deaf and she originally was twirling to the point that she would grab her tail and rip it out. After a month of letting her out to play she will now run the full length of the yard. The twirling is diminishing. She will connect in the house but, not outisde. Too much stimuli.

 

She has started to connect with the dogs finally too. Although it's typical adolecent bad behavior. Running up to other dogs barking like mad. Surprisingly the core dogs have been very tolerant of her.

 

She is a beautiful work in progress

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