DEAR DR. FOX: I recently adopted a 2-year-old Chihuahua. She came from a breeder, who gave her up because the dog could not have puppies. They tried two times without success and then had no further use for her.
I had lost my 16-year-old Pekingese several months prior, and was looking for a new dog companion. My Pekingese's favorite toy from puppyhood until the day she passed was a small toy octopus named Inky. When I learned that the rescue Chihuahua's name was Inky, I had to immediately meet her. It felt like my Pekingese was giving me permission to move on.
Inky is very small, not quite 4 pounds. I don't think she was ever let out of a crate at the breeder's. She had not been spayed (but now has) and she is not housetrained; I am working with her, but it's going slowly.
She is very needy and only wants to be held. I think she never had much human interaction. She licks me, and herself, constantly. She is very sensitive to any noise. When I am not holding her, she runs in circles nonstop, and any attempt on my part to stop her is unsuccessful. The nonstop circle-running has me very concerned.
I love this little lady and want to give her a good life. I just don't know what to do to help her. Can you please give me some advice on her obsession with running in circles and any other insights? -- S.R., Trenton, New Jersey
DEAR S.R.: Poor little Inky! I would like to put the prior owner-breeder in a cage or crate for two years. I regard Inky as a sufferer of PTSD as a consequence of inhumane, and what should be illegal, treatment. Sadly, we are a long way from equal justice for all creatures.
Your dog is showing typical signs of obsessive-compulsive stereotypic behavior, which is driven by anxiety and excitement. Ask your veterinarian to try a small dose of any anxiety-relieving psychopharmaceutical such as Xanax or Prozac. I would also give her 0.5 mg of melatonin at bedtime and a tablespoon of home-cooked turkey, which contains calming tryptophan.
A squeaky toy might distract her from spinning and trigger her Chihuahua hunting spirit -- but later, perhaps, since right now, the noise might be terrifying. I once tried an obedience-training clicker on one of the dogs my wife, Deanna Krantz, rescued in India, and he turned to jelly with fear.
My book "The Healing Touch for Dogs" has helped many dogs like yours to become relaxed and recover their health and vitality. Keep me posted.
BREED AND SEX DIFFERENCES IN CANINE LONGEVITY
From a recently published study: Among 30,563 dogs that died between Jan. 1, 2016 and July 31, 2020, female dogs had a greater life expectancy than males (11.41 years compared to 11.07 years). Life expectancy tables varied widely between breeds. Jack Russell terriers had the longest life expectancy (12.72 years) and French bulldogs had the shortest (4.53 years).
(Study: "Life tables of annual life expectancy and mortality for companion dogs in the United Kingdom" by K. Ty. Teng, D.C. Brodbelt, C. Pegram et al. Published in Scientific Reports, April 28, 2022.)
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