I’ve had my dog for about three months. In this time I have discovered that she’s more or less fearless. Except for the normal wariness of vacuums and baths, nothing seems to phase her. I’m sure that part of it is her breed — she’s a Cattle Dog mix, and any 40 lb dog who is bred to take on a bull without backing down has to have nerves of steel — but I think part of it is that whoever had her before me, did a good job of socializing her. She seems to trust people implicitly. The day I picked her up at the Humane Society she allowed me to literally pick her up and put her in the car. (My dogs growing up would freak out if you tried to pick them up…even when they were old and having trouble getting around on their own.) Maybelle will even do things like follow me across an unstable bridge on a playscape and loves the vet. When I walked her across a set of big metal bleachers she looked alarmed by the new surface and practically crawled across them, but she did it… she made it across and the next time it wasn’t such a big deal.
Every once in awhile I might ask her to do something and she looks at me like I’m crazy, and she might find a better way to accomplish the task, but she rarely backs away from anything. So when she woke me up whining at 2 a.m. last night I assumed she was having a bathroom emergency. Perhaps she had not gone before bed when I let her outside. I got up, put her collar on her, and started to head downstairs but she just stood there looking at me like she’d never seen stairs before. She would tentatively take a step down and then retreat. It was baffling.
Eventually she got half way down the stairs before freezing in place again. I picked her up and carried her the rest of the way. By then I was convinced someone was hiding in my house ready to kill me. I peeked into the office. No one. In the living room, only the cat was prowling. For a moment I thought she might be acting up and scaring the dog — she came in the other day with a mystery bite on her tail and the vet says she can’t go outside until it’s healed so it would be understandable if she was going nuts. — but the cat seemed more unnerved by the skittish dog than anything else. I put the dog on a leash and took her outside instead of booting her out by herself. She paced but she didn’t go to the bathroom so we went back inside. (I should note, however, that it seemed unusually warm.)
When we got back upstairs the dog continued to act strange. She got up on her bed — which is really a loveseat — but didn’t settle down. She kept looking back and forth, like there was something in front of her face walking back and forth. My other cat was laying on my bed and seemed unperturbed. The dog’s head movements were so strange I started to wonder if she was having a seizure. I called her and she seemed hesitant to get back down off the couch, but eventually she did and she came over and sat by the side of the bed. Her eyes seemed a little googly to me, but I wasn’t sure if I was just imagining it. I had her lie down and then tried to go back to sleep myself. (I turned the TV on, though, because I figured ghosts are less likely to appear to people watching crappy, super-late news.) May went back to whining softly and pacing until she finally went out into the hallway. I don’t usually let her sleep out there because she likes to “protect” my bedroom from the cats. But on this night I figured the only other possibility was to take her downstairs and put her in the crate we never use. And if there were a murdered or a ghost in the house, I felt better knowing the dog was loose.
I fell asleep but every once in awhile I heard her whining and pacing, and it wasn’t until after the sun came up that she finally got back in her bed and went to sleep. After I hit snooze on my alarm about four or five times, the dog was still passed out on the couch.
When I headed downstairs she promptly followed me, no more terror of the steps. She promptly went outside and did her business.
So we have three explanations for this strange behavior that I can think of.
- There’s a ghost in my house and only the dog can detect it…or the cats just don’t care.
- There was a storm somewhere that I couldn’t hear but the dog was freaked out by.
- All the prime rib my mother gave Maybelle yesterday led to doggy night terrors.
I’m hoping it’s a ghost, because if I’ve got an adorable dog that can detect paranormal activity, I’m pretty sure I can get a reality show.