Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Trouble with Fun

There's always a price tag, isn't there.

No more jumping for My Bad Dog. Wouldn't you know it, the athletics aggravated that hip problem to which dogs of a shepherd persuasion are prone, and she's been limping. She's been resting, not comfortably, and we've administering the anti-inflammatories.

Now she's depressed because she had two days of no walks, followed by a few days of only a short walk, rather than the daily hour to hour and a half to which she is accustomed.

My Bad Dog has a powerful presence in a room. When she's subdued, you can feel it. We all wish we could do something to cheer her up, but the only remedy is a good long walk (or a cat or squirrel to chase, or a gopher hole to dig in). To a person who says that dogs can't get depressed, I offer these signs of depression from the National Institute of Mental Health:

1. Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
She doesn't speak English, so we can't verify her feelings, but she appears to be sad, with bouts of moping punctuated by bursts of short-lived ferocity toward the neighbor or the mail carrier.

2. Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
Ditto previous.

3. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Makes sense. Not so much the guilt or worthlessness, but she's helpless to get out the door by herself, that's for sure.

4. Irritability, restlessness
Not so much the former, but definitely the latter. There's been more barking, and she's been click click clicking around the house in the middle of the night and whimpering to go out to chase--what? A possum? Maybe a raccoon?

5. Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable...
My Bad Dog has no interest in her rope toy, refuses to play tug-of-war, won't chase a stick, and isn't even interested in chewing a ball.

6. Fatigue and decreased energy
Absolutely. All that moping is exhausting.

7. Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
Hard to tell, her schedule isn't exactly demanding.

8. Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
As described previously.

9.Overeating, or appetite loss
The latter. In fact, when I held out a treat, she sniffed it and then click click clicked away to lie down heavily on a rug and then sigh. She sighs a heartbreaking sigh.

10. Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
I hope not.

11. Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
Can't say on this one.

On the bright side, a few days ago, My Bad Dog and I encountered a young cat--just out of kittenhood, but not grown, sort of a gawky teen-ager. This cat had the supreme and utter fearlessness of one to whom nothing bad had ever happened. The cat approached us. I told My Bad Dog to sit, and she did, just barely, almost jumping out of her skin with the effort of restraining herself from giving chase. Not that the cat looked as if it would run.

The cat actually touched noses with My Bad Dog, but then, sensing the unseemly avidity of My Bad Dog's interest, the cat dashed into a hedge.

About a month ago, we had a similar meeting with a mouse. I'd decided that the mouse was either mentally deficient (God bless it, but if humans exhibit of range of intelligence, it makes sense animals would, too) or visually impaired, as the mouse emerged from an ivy patch, appeared to look directly at My Bad Dog, and then scampered toward us. The only thing that kept this from being My Bad Dog's Best Day Ever, Except for the Time She Chased the Cows was that I wouldn't let her chase the mouse when it realized its mistake and hurried back into the ivy.

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