16 May 2011

When the ghosties live in a single, granular speck.

We all have our hobbies. Paparazzi stalking newly minted celebrity singers. Bleaching raccoon skulls. Gourmet ice cream hoarding. To each their own.

Even the dogs. Otterpop likes to chew on her plastic thing and sit in the window to look for the little yellow bus. Ruby hunts for superballs under furniture and avoids flies. These are important parts of their day. They picked these hobbies, not me. Dog agility is what I signed them up to do.

Gustavo's hobby though, is starting to creep me out.

Gustavo stares at spots. He just lays there and stares at a speck on the rug. For hours if you let him. On a really good night, he drools and drools on his spot, then he stares where the drool drips.

It's starting to get gross and creepy. If it's a hobby, it's right up there with people who dress up in clown outfits for metal detecting at the beach. Highly suspicious. I usually go and get him and move him, which used to work, but now he just starts it up again wherever you put him.

Spot staring started out as something he just did every once in a while. Sort of a new and improved and sometimes wetter version of what he did when he was younger, his old hobby air staring. I thought he was sick, or maybe having little mini focal seizures because of the immense amounts of drool that he sometimes produces. He'd do it for a couple hours, then stop, and that was it for weeks or months so I wouldn't think of it again.

He goes into his own world when he's doing it, kind of like he's floating away to la la land, communing with someone who lives in the dreamy fog world inside a speck on the rug. His teensy, tiny, mothership. It's usually possible to snap him out of it, usually by picking him up and moving him to a new location. Timmy used to have seizures, and Gustavo isn't checked out like that.

But for the last month, it's going chronic. Way too much spot staring, mostly at night. When the other dogs lay around and sleep, and Gustavo goes and finds a spot and starts to stare. Except now sometimes during the day. And I know, it may be more of a medical condition than a hobby, I'm going to try and find out this week. I haven't taken him to the vet yet because he seems perfectly fine and healthy and normal all the rest of the time he isn't staring.

Maybe your dog stares at spots? Let me know.


Elf said...

I don't have a dog who stares. But it does sound worrisome. Should I add to that worry? This is what we call "research"--10 minutes on the web. This page says "A dog may also stare if the dog suffers from an illness or other medical condition. Neurologic trauma, neuralgia, nervous migraine and amaurosis are examples of medical conditions that will produce symptoms including staring." (I'd never heard of amaurosis until just now and looked it up on wikipedia. It's a degenerative eye thing.) This page says it could be epilepsy or obsessive-compulsive disorders. They suggest videotaping the dog's staring so the vet can see exactly how the dog is behaving.

Good luck. Dang dogs, it's always something.

Elf said...

PS I think there are ways to treat the obsessive-compulsive, drugs like in humans, that work well. I don't know the details, of course.

I'm also guessing it's not senile dementia, which seems to be another thing that can cause staring. I don't envy vets trying to figure these things out!

team small dog said...

Yes, we have run his hobby by all of our favorite vets and a lot of head scratching and maybe this, maybe that. We just ran a big blood panel on him today to see if anything weird shows up.

Elf said...

OK, didn't educate you, but educated me. :-) I have heard of dogs staring with OCD before, but none that I knew personally. Good luck.

Mister Bunny said...

My old guy who died a few years back did that. It was one of his life long hobbies, but it did get more intense as he got older. We figured that they were little seizures. Occasionally I had to do a YOO HOO to snap him out of it, but otherwise it was just weird, with no real badness about it. He lived to be almost 15 years old, staring, blinking, and otherwise in another world at times.

I don't think it was OCD with him. I have a dog now who has that and it manifests in biting one spot on her front leg.

Amy Carlson said...

Hmmmm, having taken my Roscoe to Dr. Dodman at Tufts for behavior issues I have seen videos of dogs with similar OCD type behaviors. Dodman's seminars are full of video examples of dogs like this. Of course, he treats them medically, but the dogs he sees are so bad it affects their ability to function normally in life. Unfortunately, Dodman is here on the East coast, but maybe UC Davis has a behavior vet specialist? What I learned from Dodman is the behavior can get worse and the more solid/practiced it is the harder to treat, so like anything early treatment is best. I don't know what I would do, if he were my dog, but I might consider a treatment of some sort. Some of the dogs Dodman treated eventually got off medication and were fine. The cycle was broken, I guess. Most, though, stayed on the medication for life.

team small dog said...

I think we're going to embark on a small project to figure out if there's something medically making him feel sick that makes him do this. I know a lot of OCD behaviors in dogs can be related to neurological or siezurey episodes, as well, so I want to make sure my poor little buddy doesn't have something really wrong!

Timmy had seizures, and we didn't ever try to treat them medically. They would come and go, and they certainly weren't daily, more like every couple months. They were just small focal seizures where he'd seize up, not be able to walk right with his head on a weird angle, and check out. They lasted maybe 5 minutes at the most. But you couldn't snap him out of them, you had to wait for them to stop. At first they were scarey, then got used to them. And they could happen anytime!
Occassionally out on a walk he'd have one, and I'd just have to sit there with the other dogs and hold on to him until it went away.

I am glad I have some great vets here who are helping me try to figure this out! Hopefully we can do it without trips to Davis, mostly I would like to make sure he just isn't sick with something worse that this is a symptom of.

Michele said...

Someone reading my blog about my dog staring for hours, referred me to your blog post, which I just read with interest. I may have discovered at least one possible explanation, which I posted here this morning: http://foohmaxagility.blogspot.com/2011/08/bugs.html