Ever since Ollie was ‘grown up’ by the age of two, he has been exhibiting behaviours that make us think he is on the Autistic Spectrum. Or at the very least, suffers from chronic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Despite him being a wonderful well-behaved pet and companion, he lives his life by a rigid routine that he cannot stand to have broken or altered. I wondered if dogs can actually be diagnosed with these human disorders, so looked it up.
Yes, they can.
So why have we come to this conclusion about our beloved pet? Here are some examples of how he behaves every day, seven days a week.
When he comes in from the garden in the morning, he gets a treat of Schmackos. These HAVE to be eaten in the living room on his rug. If the rug is in the wash, or not there for some reason, he cannot eat his treats. After walking around with them for some time, he wil drop them on the floor, and not return to them until his rug is back in place.
At lunchtime before our walk, he gets some slices of cooked meats which contain the tablets he has to take, then four small cubes of cheese followed by a twisty dental stick that helps keep his teeth clean. The cheese and the dental stick HAVE to be eaten on his bed. If his bed has been moved into another room, or a different place, he will take the food to wherever it is, and eat it on the bed.
If Julie is at home, he will then go and sit by her and raise one paw, in the hope that she has something extra to give him. When she raises her hands and says “No more”, he walks over to his rug and lies down, carefully licking his front paws to clean them as if he had been eating with them.
After we have eaten our dinner in the evening and gone into the living room to sit down, Ollie brings each of us a toy. But those toys are not for us to play with him, they are ‘offerings’. He drops them in our laps, then looks expectantly from one of us to the other, in the hope that we will exchange his ‘gift’ of one of his toys for a treat of some kind. When nothing appears, he slumps down on his rug and goes to sleep almost immediately.
Around 10pm every night, he stands up and walks over to me, to indicate that he wants to go out into the garden. On his return thirty minutes later, he gets his final food of the day, a Bonio biscuit. But he CANNOT eat that biscuit unless both of us are in the living room, and both sitting down. If one of us is doing something else, or is in another room, he will parade in circles around the coffee table with the large bone-shaped biscuit in his mouth until he is certain that we are both sitting down and not leaving the room. As soon as we are, he eats the Bonio at great speed, but only on his rug, nowhere else. Once again, if his rug is not there, the biscuit remains uneaten until it is.
If I go to bed, Ollie wants to go to his bed too, and before I go into the bedroom I have to place his bed in its usual spot in the kitchen. I usually go to bed a lot earlier than Julie, but Ollie doesn’t care that she is still up, perhaps watching TV. He runs straight to his bed as soon as I close our bedroom door, and doesn’t move until morning. On occasions when I have been ill or unwell, and have gone to bed during the day or very early in the evening, he seems to sense something is wrong, and sits outside the bedroom door until I appear, however long that takes. He won’t go to his bed if he thinks I might be coming out before morning.
All of these habits have been rigid for almost eight years now, and never change as long as we are at home in Beetley.
When we go to stay with a friend or relative, or take Ollie on our annual holiday, the break in his routine almost shatters his world. Anyone who remembers his glum expression in the holiday photos I posted can see that. It takes him a week to work out we are not going home, and by that time we are usually packing up and leaving. Without his rug to eat treats on he hardly touches them, and as we can only take one or two of his toys and not the whole huge box of them, he ignores those too. Walks on the beach are no substitue for his regular Beetley Meadows, so he will stand on the sand crying or whimpering.
It’s probably not possible for him to have any treatment for this, and I doubt I would bother anyway, as it is all part of his particular canine personality. According to what I read online, dogs like this are born with those disorders, and unlikely to change.
I wouldn’t really want to change Ollie, so that’s okay with me.