So I have options, anyway.
It was all about deadlines, plus a yard that was going to have to be mowed if it ever got mowed at all, plus a lunch meeting on Tuesday, and blah blah blah. The mowing had to be done on the brief window of Wednesday, the only rainless day we had, and the grass was so thick and wet it made another difficult situation for the battery-powered mower.
All that aside: I nailed one huge deadline Monday, another soon after, then a third!, and things were starting to look possible.
Then... daaawwwwwwWWWWG FREAKOUT!
|le freak, c'est chic|
This happened last summer, and at the time the problem turned out to be the cable box rebooting itself in the dead of night -- a problem only solved by unplugging everything from the wall and turning off the juice. We tried all that this time and he didn't calm down. Took him outside a couple of times; the first time he peed; an hour later he did nothing, but he did not want to come back inside. Was it some noise in the house? A mouse? We checked everything. I camped out downstairs with him and he ran upstairs and started whining up there. Nothing worked and he wouldn't shut up. Whatever it was, it wasn't bothering the little dog, Nipper. The only thing bothering him was Tralfaz.
It happened again the next night, and the next. We were all feeling zombified during the day and starting to dread the night. Finally, yesterday evening, busy as I was, I took the big knucklehead to the vet. Maybe it was an infection or something. Maybe we needed an exorcist. I was tired enough to try anything.
Tralfaz checked out physically healthy, so the vet suggested we first try melatonin to help him relax and break the cycle of fear -- being afraid of something at night leading him to be afraid of the night, in other words.
That got us thinking... thinking about the bear.
A neighbor around the corner said a mother bear and cubs had been spotted in the area a couple of weeks ago. We had thought that maybe Tralfaz was smelling the bears going about in the nighttime and that that was what was freaking him out. But why would he be willing to go outside, then? Why give us trouble about coming back inside? Why would he not be comforted by our presence? Why isn't Nipper going nuts if the whole joint stinks like wild bear?
When you're constructing a theory you reach for clues that support it; I supposed detectives and district attorneys work that way. My wife remembered taking Tralfaz out back one night before we'd heard about our ursine friends, a night he dashed into the darkness of the far backyard and dashed back out quickly. This isn't unusual, as he enjoys telling the local deer to buzz off. But maybe he had a close encounter of the bear kind, just close enough to terrify him. It would have taught him to fear the bear, a hard-won knowledge Nipper would not have gotten yet.
This also fits the rest of the behavior, as Fazzy has always been most protective toward my wife, and in a time of threat he would not be happy without all of us clustered around. So the sequence: he's downstairs alone whining, I go to camp out with him, and rather than reassure him, he now fears that Mommy has been left alone, and now he has to run upstairs and whine at her closed door, which wakes up Nipper, and later she tags me out so I can get sleep, and the pack is still not united, and once again everyone has a crappy night of sleep.
So last night we decided that if he started acting up again, we would just get him upstairs with us and bring Nipper into the area too, and see if just having the gang together would be enough to calm him down. He would be able to protect us all, and we would all be ready to beat up on the bear if necessary. (And if that didn't work, we could still give him a cluster of canine-chewable melatonin treats and dope him up. Or call an exorcist.)
Friday morning: Tralfaz slept soundly through the night and so did everyone else. Thank God.
So what happened? Well, we had heavy rain that may have washed the bear smell away. Or Fazzy was just completely exhausted after three bad nights of sleep and a trip to the vet's office, which gets him so worked up it's like five hours at the gym. Or maybe he's been sensing a lot of stress from me, stress that I was too tired to feel when I fell into a coma at 10:30 p.m. So we shall see how it goes tonight.
Poor doggies -- they can't tell you what's wrong, and even for an experienced vet like mine, absent any clinical signs of illness, it's all a guessing game. Let's hope this is the end of this particular issue.
I'm keeping the exorcist on speed dial, just in case.