Last summer at around this time, our days in Patzcuaro were spent trailing Tai with wads of paper towels, daubing up the blood spatter he left in his wake, and nights binding him in homemade diapers to spare the sheets. The poor guy’s ongoing battle with open, bleeding tumors due to his hemangiosarcoma diagnosis in 2014 was in full force. He didn’t appear to be in any pain, just kind of miserable, and who wouldn’t be?
He’d already undergone a few surgeries to have previous blobs excised, but damned if they don’t keep popping up, like bubble-headed whack-a-moles. After his parents returned and we’d moved on, he underwent more surgeries, after which he became quite weak, vomiting and collapsing on several occasions. It was scarily touch and go there for a while, but he emerged relatively unscathed, a few more battle scars to add to his body map of survival.
When we returned this summer, he was like a new dog. Sure, there were a few new bumps, but they were small and non-threatening. The brute of a ridgeback was back in fighting form. And back to his old tricks roaming the house at night, rearranging furniture and beating up blankets in the dark. One night I caught him red-handed. Hearing a scuffling in the living room, I snuck out of bed, crept toward the light switch, and, “Gotcha!” Frozen in the glare of the light, perched atop the chair, mid-punch to a throw blanket, he looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights. He’d been busted and no explanation could get him out of this one. He knew it and, lowering his head and averting his embarrassed gaze, he leapt down from the chair, skirted by me and hopped into his bed, face tucked under his paw.
As mortified as he seemed at being discovered, the next night he was right back at it. I began to suspect he was sleep-walking. But other than canine narcolepsy and cataplexy, which I was surprised to learn are more common than you’d think, Tai’s behaviour didn’t stack up. Both are nervous system disorders; narcolepsy is characterized by brief loss of consciousness, and cataplexy displays as sudden muscle paralysis while still conscious. Tai just wanders through the night, looking for soft targets on which to vent.
If that’s the quirkiest of his behaviour, we’ll take it. As long as he stays happy and healthy, the furniture will have to as well.