Thursday, March 26, 2009

Phantom Pregnancy..

Something unusual happened last week. We had to turn away a Boston Terrier for home-boarding as she and Ellie just could not get along. This was odd as Ellie is usually very tolerant of other dogs. It had me scratching my head for a while, but I just put it down to her having just come out of season and thought no more of it.

Shortly after this, she began getting very aggressive towards all other dogs that she met on our walks, even if they were walking on the other side of the road. After speaking to friends and colleagues, we concluded that perhaps it had become a learned behaviour and that I would begin to work with her to help her through it.

Then, without any real reason, she went completely off her food, and I mean completely off it. We waited for the weight loss to show, but instead found ourselves commenting to each other how much more 'stocky' Ellie was looking. Still, as she seemed fine in herself and certainly reactive to play, we decided that she was probably just recovering from her season still.

A few days later, I noticed that her nipples were swollen again, as they usually are when she is in season. She had also began to whine quite a lot, something that Ellie has never done before in almost two years. But still, she seemed fine.

Yesterday, I made the spare bed up. A few hours later, I noticed that the pillow and quilt had been pulled around to form a nest. Also, for the first time in two weeks, I was able to walk her past two dogs without her getting aggressive. Something wasn't quite right...

This morning, the answer finally revealed itself. No, we don't have any puppies, but we have the next best thing - a bitch with a phantom pregnancy. The bell finally chimed for me when I saw her crate this morning. She had, almost literally, removed the blankets from her crate (something that won't have been at all easy due to the way that I fold them in) and then pushed them in again to form another 'nest'. She had also taken her toy in there. In all the time we've known her, she has never taken a toy into her crate, ever. It's more than unusual that she chose the crate over the comfy sofa or spare bed anyway.

So there it is, she thinks she's expecting puppies. Boy is she going to be disappointed when nothing materialises. Lorraine, the manager of our local training group, and I, did some rough reckoning this morning, and we think that in Ellie's mind, she must be getting very close to the point where she would be dropping the pups, if she were really pregnant, hence the nesting. I believe she may then start lactating. We have to be very careful at the moment not to stimulate her nipples through stroking as that can prolong things.

I have now nicknamed her 'nanna moon'. No idea why really, it just seemed funny at the time. All I can say is that phantom pregnancies are one of the most curious things I've come across! As a result, we've had to postpone two meetings for home-boarders so that we can have them meeting Ellie under more normal circumstances and conditions.

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