Well, it’s been a busy week at Emu towers, and, for once, the focus has been away from the challenges of the unreasonableness of the two-legged population and onto the animal kingdom. The week started with Luna behaving…well, strangely. I mentioned the symptoms to a couple of friends, and without missing a beat, each one said : “Phantom pregnancy” I don’t know about you, but this was very much a new term for me, and it does strike me that I’m learning a whole new vocabulary since the dog came onto our lives. Only last week I found that the ugly yellow circles on our lawn were caused by something called ‘urine burn’. I’d never heard of urine burn before, although it sounds like something where a bit of cranberry juice and yoghurt wouldn’t go amiss, but apparently it’s all the rage where female dogs wee on lawns, and completely untreatable, unless you follow said dog about with a watering can every time they need a pee. Any way, onto the phantom pregnancy, which sounds like it might involve ectoplasm and Doris Stokes (or Dynamo, for our younger readers) but is a proper physical and mental condition experienced by dogs a few weeks after their first season. I found this out, as everyone else does these days, by logging on to the internet, via the pet insurance details to check cover (alas no), and established the following symptoms:
- Behavioral changes.
- Mothering activity, nesting, and self-nursing.
- Abdominal distention.
- Enlargement of mammary glands.
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
Which was a bit like when you look into a medical dictionary and finding that you have all the symptoms for cholera, or athlete’s foot, or glaucoma (or possibly all three). Because Luna, bless her, seemed to be showing most of these signs in spades. Which was all a bit weird (or wared, as they say in these parts), probably as we’re so used to her behaving in a certain way. So, for example, she’d take a couple of her toys around everywhere with her, making sure they were tucked under her when she was sleeping. She started ‘nesting’, unfortunately choosing to do so in our bed. Then she went off her food, then she started talking to us. Really. Not barking, you understand, but the sort of talking that dogs do when they want to have an urgent chat. Of course, this led to quite a bit of localised hi-jinks, with lots of ‘What’s that Luna, there’s two small children trapped in an abandoned mine?’ or ‘What’s that Luna, you heard Mummy telling Daddy that #3 was adopted?’ Although the fun to be had from this faded a bit when she decided to have an urgent chat at 4 in the morning. Reading the list above, Mrs E was concerned that there might be a conversation she was missing about depression, anorexia or perhaps self-harming, so elected to sleep downstairs, a level of devotion that had been denied to any of her human children.
Fortunately help was at hand for the abdominal inflammation aspect of the illness, as Luna was booked into be spayed on Friday. Not for her the pitter patter of little Hungarian paws across the kitchen floor in the future, instead she’ll be resigned to a barren life ahead, wondering what might have been. Even 72 hours post-op there’s something of Miss Haversham about the way she looks at us. On the plus side, she was weighed at the vets after the op, and declared to be the perfect weight for a dog her age. #1 helpfully pointed out that her reproductive organs would have pushed her well over the ideal point, thereby yet again showing the sensitivity that the medical profession is expecting from him in the future.
All of which has resulted in a different dog at the end of the week to the one we started with. She’s still enjoying her phantom pregnancy symptoms, but is coming down from an anaesthetic which involved a healthy dose of methadone (yes, methadone). She’s shaved across her tummy and sporting a pretty impressive dressing which she’s trying to lick off, so to prevent this, Mrs E has taken to fitting her out in a pink running T-shirt. So, just to recap, we have a dog dressed up in a pink shirt, coming down from methadone, who thinks she’s pregnant, and possibly suffering from depression and anorexia. She’s restless but not allowed off the lead for a week. Yet again, we have a glimpse into what happens when teenage girls go wrong.