Thursday, 25 June 2015

Can dogs have Autism?

It is a question that must have crossed a few people's minds because Google came up with a variety of writings on the subject. Rather worryingly, I have actually asked google questions which don't appear to have been pondered by any other human being but that's another story!

This particular question was prompted by a walk which started off as a pleasant evening stroll and ended with an epic battle of wills and a very sweaty human.

I have mentioned that Muffin prefers to stick to the route she usually walks. Last night, as the path we normally go down is overgrown with nettles and thistles, I decided to go along a wider, dusty path. We turned left in the little meadow. This was considered by Muffin, for a time and deemed acceptable. We sometimes go this way at weekends but not weekdays so it threw her for a while. When I then turned left instead of, weekend walk right, it was just all too much and madam refused to walk another step!

I tried gentle encouragement and even a crunchy bribe but to no avail. I then picked her up just to let her know that we were going that way, with or without her cooperation. Still no walking going on when I put her down. I don't really think she understood when I told her that since she had had her summer trim she had less protection against the stingers. I don't think I had been forgiven for handing her over to Richard from dial a dog wash earlier anyway!

I carried on walking until the 50ft lead ran out and still she did not follow. I sat down to wait it out. She came running over but as soon as I stood up, the paws dug in and the bottom went down. I tried a stand off but she won. I ended up carrying her down the path and phoning hubby to get us in the car when I got to the road. When she spotted the car, she suddenly sprinted into action.

After browsing some articles and posts about the question of autism in dogs, I came to the conclusion that I already felt in my heart. There was much debate speculating about how indicators of autism in people can be apparent in dogs. Was it an inherent condition or behaviour formed by socialisation differences. What I read suggested that signs such as

*Avoiding eye contact and other physical contact with humans
*Not engaging in play
*Dislike changes to routine
* Problems with social relationships with other dogs
*Organising toys by shape, size or colour
may indicate autism. Some argued that if autism was present, then it must be in the genetic make up and not created.
My own thoughts about our little diva, is that she doesn't have autism but very much like her human family, her life experience, has shaped some tendencies that place her a little bit on the autistic spectrum.

As a family/pack, we all tend to be slow to trust and bond. At some point, we have all been let down badly by somebody we trusted. I am guessing the same is true of Muffy, who came to us as a stray, with nothing known about her past.

Once we have, against the odds, formed those bonds, they are strong. We are not really a demonstrative bunch but despite the lack of hearts and flowers, there is a feeling of security, of strength and a deep love that is always felt but rarely spoken.

The truth is, anyone of our family unit is likely to feel wobbly if our routine is messed with. It was apparent from once putting Muffy in kennels and trying her with a home boarder, she tends to display many of the signs of autism to a much greater degree when not in her normal environment.If her little world is static, then it is safe. Very important for a dog whose experience of the big wide world may well have been scary.

If hubby has had his shredded wheat on the right day and I have ensured that every lone magpie is saluted. If muffy has not deviated from her usual path, then all is normal and safe. Irrational maybe but perfectly sane from where we are standing. Our little dog, who may or may not, be autistic, fits right in. <3

Monday, 22 June 2015

Dad (Fathers day 2015)

D is for dance, like I do when you’re home
and you give me a stroke and a small crunchy bone.

Twirling and spinning, I’m happy to see you

You tell me I’m beautiful, sweet little muffy moo
A is for action, we’re ready to go
Adventures are waiting, we walk with the flow
We are never quite sure what nice smells we will find
I can be a minx but you’re never unkind.
D is for digging, a hobby of mine
Sometimes you let me, just so I don’t whine
If I find a treasure, from digging so deep
I’ll take it to you and invite you to eat
This poem spells DAD and that’s a great word
one of the nicest that. I’ve ever heard
Each time I hear it, I feel fuzzy inside
Whenever I can, I’ll be right by your side.

Fathers day 2014

When I came to live with you,
It was pretty plain to see
You didn’t really want a dog
especially one like me.

I was a little mixed up
cos my life had been quite hard.
I never had a proper home,
a family or a yard.

We looked each other up and down
and sighed a few big sighs
but I wanted you to like me,
so I told you with my eyes.

Now that lots of time has past
filled with love and walks and snacks
Its plain for everyone to see,
that, we are a perfect match.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

A sweet after thought

A sweet afterthought: (Muffin’s Story)

No dogs at the shelter, they told us that day.
They might get upset, when the kids come to play.
With heart feeling heavy, we walked to the door,
‘Wait’, they called over, and hope rose once more.

We waited again, as they talked in hushed tones.
They looked on their forms and spoke on their phones.
We were told about Muffin, still being assessed,
but you’d made friends with everyone, even the vets

We went out to meet you, it was cold, it was dark.
They moved your doggy pal, because he liked to bark.
You came running over, excited and whirly
Your fur looked all black and crazy and curly.

The lighting was dim and we couldn't see well,
Not a fact of your life, before now, could they tell,
We left you that night but we swore to come back,
So you could come home and be part of our pack.

You got sick the next day, so you stayed a while longer.
Just ‘til you started to feel a bit stronger.
The days went by slowly, we longed for our pet.
You were grumpy with everyone, especially the vet.

It was all hallows eve when they let you come home.
You got straight in your bed and you ripped a toy bone.
Your manners weren't good and you wee'd on the floor.
You pulled on your lead and you whined at the door.

‘She looks just like Toto,’ we heard over again.
I'm not sure that Toto, was as much as a pain!
‘I think she’s a Cairn cross,’ said those in the know.
To the Cairn terrier forum, for help I did go.

I read about Cairns and their rascally stunts,
the digging and chewing, the barking, the hunts.
About chewing up beds and removing the stuffing.
Sounds almost exactly like you, little Muffin!

You taught us a lot, our Halloween dog.
You changed us inside and you helped clear the fog.
Who would have guessed that the answers we sought,
would come in the form of a sweet afterthought.

Real (In memory of Suze)

Face book once deleted you, they said that you weren't real
You didn't laugh, or think or cry. You couldn't really feel.
We never shared our stories,or pictures of our furries.
We never made each other laugh, or sometimes shared our worries.
We never picked each other up, if one of us was down.
Or shared sad doggy tales, which turned our smiles to frowns
We never felt the comfort, of knowing, come what may,
Archie tells us ‘Nite nite’, at the end of every day.
How can someone make believe,Shine their light so far.
To reach across the internet. A shining cyberstar.
You touched so many with your warmth and cheered us with your smile.
You didn’t only add friends, but you went the extra mile.
You would extend your hand in friendship and show you really cared
We never knew if you were down or insecure or scared
Now you have gone forever, not just temporarily deleted
I keep thinking, I will see you back, with Archie, undefeated.
So facebook can you tell us, we are fake and cannot feel
that the tears that fill a river, the shock and loss aren't real.
The heartache for a family left bewildered and alone
Is all a cyber nightmare and Suz isn’t really gone.


It's cold in the fields, and the wind it blows fierce.
My fur is all matted, but the ice rain can pierce.
My paws, they are bleeding, I have walked a long way,
with no destination, no place to stay

I curl up in the bushes and hope they give cover.
I close my sore eyes and I think of my mother.
She was tired but kind and they took me away.
I cried for a long time and did quietly pray.

I stayed in a cage with my brothers and sister.
She went away first and I desperately missed her.
The boys went together and I was alone.
No family, no dinner, no pride and no home.

I tried to get comfy but the cage was so hard.
I saw no green fields just a bare concrete yard.
The men came with scraps they were rough they were cruel.
I slipped out of that cage breaking their rule.

I ran like a bullet and never looked back.
To the pain, and the fear, and the loss of my pack.
It's just me now but at least l'm alive
Battered and broken but still I survive.

I crawl out of the bushes disheartened and numb.
My stomach is growling, I can't find a crumb.
I chew on some grass but it makes me feel ill.
I will move on again if I can muster the will.

I spot in the distance, a human, I'm scared,
but I smell something good and I no longer care,
I run to the man with a devious plot,
I'll grab his good breakfast while it's still nice and hot.

As I approach, he speaks to me gently
He bends down to my left and says god must have sent me.
There are people who long for a friend just like me.
Just to play in their garden and curl on their knee

He gives me his breakfast and smiles as I eat.
He tickles my neck and lifts me off my sore feet.
He carries me home I'm too tired to fight.
I'm taken away to a shelter that night

I still feel lonely but the humans are kind.
They give me some food and my wounds they bind.
They bathe me and brush me and cut out my matts
They give me a bed, and some strokes and some pats

Some new people come in to visit one night.
I am happy to see them, they are moved by my plight.
They promise to come back so I can go with them.
They are sure of the joy and the love I could give them.

I go to the house, there's a garden to play in.
I got my own toys and my own bed to lay in.
I've got lots to learn about life with a family.
But I'm as clever and sharp as a little dog can be.

Soon we are family and now I belong.
My memories of past times will shortly be gone.
I sigh to myself as I munch on my bone.
Now I am happy, now I am home.


As you went into your senior years
you found yourself alone.
Poorly in the shelter,
without a proper home

A special family saw your plight
and when your ears were tended,
they brought you home to live with them
and let your heart be mended.

You lay down in a comfy bed,
You had good food to eat.
You walked in fields and woods with friends
They soothed your itchy feet.

Your story shared with all of us,
we knew that you were rare
a special girl with special needs
a special mum, to care.

You melted daddies heart ,sweet girl cos
that’s your special power,
now run, pain free, across the bridge.
Rest easy, little flower.

Nina Ottosson

Initial attempts at this puzzle

                                              A little while later

Nothing better than a splash around with some friends!

For the dogs lost in the Manchester dogs home fire

For all the dogs who died last night,
I hope your fear and pain.
Your days of empty loneliness,
haven’t been in vain.

I hope you’re somewhere filled with love,
I hope you’re having fun,
I hope you’re chasing rabbits
In a meadow bathed in sun

I hope you’re digging in the sand
and chasing frothy sea,
I hope that every other night,
It’s sausages for tea.

I hope you have a crunchy bone,
for breakfast everyday.
I hope that every ache and pain
is gently kissed away

I hope at night you have friend
so you can snuggle in,
whether they’ve got fur or wool
or funny naked skin.

Most of all , I hope you’re plight
has helped the people know
that lots of lonely dogs and cats
still have no place to go.

I hope that all the dogs this day
still frightened and alone
will find a special place to stay
A place they can call home.

What's my name

I am a dog with many names
I really don’t know why
sometimes, I am Scruffy girl
and sometimes cutie pie

When I’m full of tricks and stunts,
they call me ‘Monkey Moo’.
The house is full of laughter
As I run by with a shoe

Sometimes I can be a rogue,
I know! unbelievable, but true.
When ‘Muffin’ is said sternly,
I’m usually rolling in some pooh

At times when I am ‘Muffin’
I can have some middle names.
Like ‘Muffin Oh for heaven’s sake’
or ‘Muffin you’re a pain’

Dad, he asked the groomer once,
‘Can you trim my Muff?’
He thought, he was funny
but then, Mum went in a huff!

My best friend Sophie, gives me treats
And I give her, the snuffles
We dance and play and cuddle up
She calls me ‘little Muffles’

They call me ‘Muffly wuffly’
or ‘Moosey woosey woo’
Sometimes I’m ‘The Muffster
or ‘little Muffy Moo’

Mostly I’m just ‘Muffy’
And thats alright with me
I’m quite sure that a ‘Muffy’
Is a special thing to be

The name I like to hear the most
Is always said with love
Even when the day we’ve had
Hasn’t been so good

I go outside, the light grows dim
I know I’ll hear it soon
I munch my bedtime treat, and wait,
‘Goodnight, sweet Muffin Moon’