When your dog acts weird…

Admiral is old faithful. No matter what crazy stuff we do, he gets over it, and behaviorally he always makes sense. <- excuse me for a second, I need to read that again so that I won’t forget it. Ha.

But starting Tuesday of last week, he started acting, well, just plain weird. He would get up in the night, and sit rigidly by Hannah’s bed. Not my bed. Hannah’s bed. Ok, so that’s a little random. But the really weird thing is that he would absolutely refuse to go back into his bed. Not even peanut butter would convince him to go back in. He would shiver, lick his lips, yawn, pant, you name the stress signal, he was giving it to me. I’ve learned a lot recently about dog behavior, body language, etc., but in this situation, I felt helpless. I kept thinking, “I can tell you are stressed, dude, would you mind explaining to me why?!” Unfortunately, he couldn’t. I’d really like to blame being short on sleep for my not thinking straight, but it is much more likely that I was just being an idiot.


What we were hoping for…

I tried every trick I could think of; one day, I did fetch, tug and training, and we purposefully tried to keep him awake so that he would be super tired. I felt so mean, but I really wanted my sleep that night, and if this didn’t work, then I knew nothing would.

We eventually got to the point where we had to put him in another room so that we could sleep. I felt bad for him, because he now hates his crate (thanks to a lady we once boarded him with whom we suspect left him in his crate almost the entire time) and so I felt like I was making him more stressed rather than helping him calm down.

I tried to figure out what on earth could be wrong. The only thing we could think of, was that he was freaking out because of the puppies, and I was this close to relegating him to the other room to sleep until they left.

But there were several problems with this theory: a). he started doing this after the puppies had been here for about 4 days, b). he had never done this before with puppies, and c). it makes absolutely no sense from his perspective.

The first two could be excused away; just because he’s never done something before, doesn’t mean he won’t ever do it, and it could have been him essentially waiting for awhile to see if the puppies would go away. It was that last reason that was really bothering me. If you were a dog, why would you – in protest to something you don’t like – get up in the middle of the night, and be all stressed out, while the objects of your stress are sleeping peacefully and not disturbing you at all? Since dogs live so much in the moment, they aren’t going to maliciously plan to get you up in the middle of the night because you did something they didn’t like.


Fast-forward to this last Tuesday, a whole week since this whole thing started. I was out of ideas, and clueless as to why it was happening or how to fix it. Then, partway through the day, I noticed that he felt warmer than usual. His tongue was even hot, and I don’t know what made me check his ears, (except as just part of a sub-conscious check-up) but while one ear looked normal, the other had a classic ear-infection. (Admiral had serial ear-infections growing up due to food requirements Guide Dog’s had, so I became intimately familiar with ear-infections and their care/cure.) Since we didn’t have a rectal thermometer (one is on the way now!) we couldn’t tell for sure if he had a fever or not.

There is a new veterinary hospital just down the block from us, so we called to see if they could see him, as our regular vet live about an hour away. The first appointment they had was one for Wednesday at 9:00, so we took it. (Once we had the good idea of trying the new place, we didn’t think of going to our own vet…yeah, our brains were fried.) The office manager/vet tech gave Mom a couple tips of what we could do to help lower his fever, and we stuck it out. He got pampered, spoiled, and apologized-to for the rest of the day.

To make this whole thing worse, I gave him a bath the day before the puppies came, and I’m not so sure he didn’t have an ear-infection then. I cleaned out his ears, and I remember his left one (the one that’s infected now) was totally filthy, and I had cleaned it fairly recently. To be fair to myself, I remember thinking that I should keep an eye on it, but it just slipped my mind.


With a few a lot of treats, Admiral was pretty calm at first. Then the vet and the vet tech came in and started paying attention to him, and he pretty much lost it. I give him more treats and that helped to steady his nerves. I really thought I got a picture of it, but what really seemed to help him was when I made him do a “leave it”.

The vet surprised us when she said that not only did he have an ear infection in the left ear, but he had a grass seed in his right ear! She showed us on her high-tech computer/ear-looker-inner thing, and we saw it while it was in his ear!


For those of you who don’t like gross things, this next picture is kind of gross, but I thought it was kind of interesting, too. It’s the grass seed after they got it out of his ear, so it has a bit of wax and hairs on it.


They gave us medication for his ear, and he’s been a happy boy!


He loves getting his ear-infection ointment…he knows the relief it will give him in the end.


After a quick gnaw on one of his bones, he zonked out. All day long, he slept off the past week of lost sleep. He slept everywhere…


In his Corner….


In the middle of the floor…


He ended the day with a snooze with Hannah on her bed…life is good!

To say that I feel about the size of a pea or smaller would be an understatement. He was trying to let me know that he was sick, albeit in a hard to understand way. We are guessing that he would get a fever at night, so he would be uncomfortable and want us to fix it. I feel bad that it went so long without me realizing it.

The moral of the story for me is when Admiral acts weird, there is always a reason! (At least, so far…)


2 thoughts on “When your dog acts weird…

  1. You gotta cut yourself some slack…you did keep saying, “I wish you could talk, buddy, and tell me what’s wrong…” Of course, I’m right with you, feeling horrible. Like meanest dog “auntie” on planet earth!! 😦 Poor boy! Bless his long-suffering, sickie-pooh heart!!


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