Friday, September 20, 2013

Take Two Aspirin and Call Me In the Morning

Yesterday morning, Elka woke me up. This isn’t unusual, right? It was 9:30, about our regular walk time. She wasn’t whining or asking to go out, though. She didn’t hop off the bed because she detected Action in the Kitchen. She didn’t step on me while repositioning. She nosed at my hand and flipped it with her snout until I woke up.

She’s never done that before, and I asked her if she wanted to go out, and she hopped off the bed then, and waved her left paw at the door as I reached for the doorknob (this is something she’s started doing lately, which I find adorable). When we got downstairs, though, she didn’t want to go out. And I realized I had a headache. Not a migraine, thankfully, but enough that I took some Aleve, drank some water, and went back to bed for a little while longer, Elka shadowing each of my steps and settling down next to me again.

 did a survey earlier in the year for people who have dogs that alert them to impending migraines. This week, they did an update on that, with the article Could You Be Getting a Migraine? Ask Your Dog. I took part in that survey, as I’d learned about it from Dawn Marcus’ blog, Fit as Fido. It’s interesting to me that many people, as with myself and Elka, find that their dog alerts them before any symptoms of migraine actually begin, and they act on that alert and take pain medication at that point. Really, I just feel like it’s the smart thing to do!

It seems to me that I’ve read that medical alert dogs are frequently trained to “touch” a hand or leg in order to do their alert, so that it is a clear and unique behavior that will not be confused or mistaken. The fact that Elka did this in order to wake me up and alert me is really kind of interesting. She didn’t vocalize in her normal way, and obviously, if she was staring at me in a significant way, I wasn’t going to see it. She didn’t paw at me. 

Nearly every day, I’m amazed and pleased with how clearly Elka can communicate. It’s pretty rare that I’m confused about she wants, be it food, water, to go out and play, to go outside for potty, to have a place on the couch…whatever. In our time together, we’ve talked to Elka a lot, and Elka talks back, in her own way. I guess every person who has a dog feels that their dog is, in fact, the very best dog. Every day, I’m frustrated by Elka and amused by Elka and made unbelievably happy. This is dog ownership, or dog partnership. 

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