What's up with me?
What’s up with me?

Okay, all you closet animal psychologists – I require your expertise. Something is up with my pug, Bubba.  I noticed a slight change in his behavior couple of months back.   Always a terrific walker, he had started lagging, sometimes stopping altogether and refusing to budge. What I at first assumed to be the effects of old age (he’s ten now), I eventually chalked up to hard-headedness as it soon became apparent that he only proved obstinate on the way back home.  Leaving the house was no problem at all.  Heck, the behavior he displayed at the start of each walk was downright puppy-like, barking, bounding about, scampering down the sidewalk with such purpose you’d think he was running some errand only he was privy to.

Eventually, it became part of his routine – the excited exit inevitably followed by the reluctant return – and I didn’t give it much thought. But, lately, he’s been exhibiting other odd behavior patterns. Sometimes, he’ll take a seat in a corner by himself as if giving himself a time-out.  Or other times, he’ll gaze up out at some unseen object and, seemingly deep in thought, zone out and refuse to acknowledge anyone around him – no matter how many times you call his name. Whereas, in the past, the mere sound of the refrigerator door opening would bring him charging into the kitchen in frenzied expectation of a treat, nowadays the treats have to be hand delivered to his perch atop the couch in the living room.

He’s also proven incredibly needy of late, demonstrating separation anxiety for the first time in recent memory, howling mournfully when Akemi goes out for a walk with the other dogs or if I leave him in the car with Akemi while I pop out to get something.

Akemi is, of course, very concerned.  In the few short years she’s been in Canada, she and Bubba have developed the type of close relationship I can only aspire to…




I had him checked out at the vet and his blood tests showed no issues. And, as is always the case when you visit a doctor, whatever symptoms brought you there in the first place magically disappear the second you step through the door.  Bubba was jumping around excitedly, tail wagging – a far cry from the quiet, introspect pug that had us concerned only days earlier.


The vet suggested it could be one of several possibilities: a liver issue, a brain tumor, old age, or plain old stubborness.  For now, I’m going with a mix of the last two but will be keeping my eye on him…




What do you think?  What’s up the old boy?

Today’s entry is dedicated to Stargate fan Thomas Smethurst who passed way earlier today following a courageous battle with cancer. Condolences to his friends and family.

39 thoughts on “March 7, 2013: What’s up with Bubba?

  1. Reposting my comment from yesterday’s post…. I’ve been working on Ivon’s birthday present for tomorrow March 8. He doesn’t read this does he? Ivon if you are reading this please stop……

    ok now I made this Ivon website. If you would like to leave a birthday message please leave a message by commenting in the box at the bottom.

    I’ll be showing him tomorrow.

    Alternatively if you are on Twitter you could tweet him directly.

    Thanks heaps!!!
    Cheers, Chev

  2. Now onto Bubba… Do you believe our energy can exist once we pass, with animals too? I wonder if he senses Max?


  3. Did your vet mention anything about possible joint soreness? Does Bubba get any joint supplements?

  4. Condolences to the Family & Friends of Thomas Smethurst. As Thomas crosses the Rainbow Bridge may you take comfort in his courage to fight to remain with you all.

    Now, Bubba. Joe, you mention Bubba is 10yo but all blood tests etc are clear, and that the vet could not find anythign wrong. I think that he is just getting old and needing more affection. My late 11yo cat was the same and I received more cuddles in her last year than I did when she was younger.

  5. So sorry about Thomas. Condolences and prayers to the family.

    It’s good news about the blood test but…I’d watch to see if anymore symptoms occur. I have learned to listen to an attentive owner. With pets, it’s all about watching behavior. We would see patients at the animal hospitals I worked at have completely normal test but the owner would persist. They would usually be correct. I hope “whatever it is” clears up on its own though. Too bad you don’t have a dog whisperer.

  6. Is there some significance to him being just out of the sunlight in that corner or is that a happenstance of the time of the photo?

    An issue that may involve easy fatigue and dental issues and maybe light sensitivity and maybe depression (do dogs get that?) would be low Vitamin D. Dogs get it all from their food so they’d have to eat animals that have vitamin D or have a decent amount of supplementation in their food and a healthy enough gut to absorb it. Blood tests are available, but only recently started being done routinely for humans. I don’t know what the standard of care is for dogs on that issue.

    An issue that would link the fatigue and dental issues would be chronic inflammation. I went over my story of going to the paleo diet to deal with that recently. I’ve heard pugs can have food sensitivities, too, so trying the canine version of paleo/primal could start with this info: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-eating-plan-for-dogs/#axzz2MuOjoZ23 It sounds like grinding meat would be involved since he has few teeth.

    And, bah, this page has too much info and maybe reserves the important stuff for the book it’s trying to sell, but it mentions Cushings right up there at the top, which Jelly I believe was dealing with. http://www.paleopet.com/

  7. Condolences to the family and friends of Thomas Smethurst. May your solace come from Heaven.

    Re Bubba, no idea! When you mentioned he’s staring out at unseen objects and zoning out, I thought maybe petit mal seizures (which a brain tumor could cause). I’ve seen dogs that have them and they’re barely noticeable, if at all. They do like corners and staying close to walls, and they also stare out into space. That wouldn’t explain the other stuff, though. You know, trying to figure out dogs is frustrating and difficult. Riley took to peeing ON MY BED this week. She’s on antibiotics to rule out a UTI (no tests done because she refuses to give anybody a sample, so we decided not to stress her out) and for now is sleeping on a dog bed in my room (which kills me, I can barely sleep without her and Cody), but then, she peed on the dog peed. It’s been a long week of washing dog and human bedding. Luckily, since Elway started having seizures, I’ve always kept a good mattress pad on the bed, so my featherbed is intact. If antibiotics don’t work, then we’ll have to try to figure out if it’s a hormonal thing, a bladder incontinence thing or a behaviour thing. I hope Bubba’s ok! xo

  8. G’day

    Very sorry to hear about Thomas. Deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.

    I am with Raud, what about his joints. Did the vet check them out? Most of it could just be old age, with the needy part. But the walking could be joint pain. Hope you feel Bubba, tough little guy.

  9. Sorry to hear about Thomas.

    If you can eliminate any medical issues with Bubba, it pretty much leaves behavioural factors. It’s interesting that he acts fine on the way out on his walk but not on the way back. The other behaviour also suggests that he might feel like he needs more attention, for whatever reason. Has there been a change in routine for you or Akemi? There could also be different reasons for the different things you mention, of course. Also, his increasing age may just make him more sensitive to things so that could very well play a part.

    I would definitely make sure everything is okay physically though just to remove that from the equation. Most animals are pretty good at hiding physical issues, lest they become prey or are booted out of the flock/herd/pack.

    The staring into space made me think of something that happened to me today – I was riding in the elevator at work and became so lost in my thoughts that I completely missed the door opening for my floor, and the other person exiting. I suddenly realized that the elevator wasn’t moving, hit the button again and the door opened to my floor, realizing that the woman in there before was now gone. Weird! I have no memory of the doors opening or her exiting. So, I can totally relate to Bubba’s wandering mind!

  10. Oh, I meant to add regarding the howling when one of you leave – I wonder if at some point he did have anxiety about something regarding you leaving, howled and then you came back. This *might* be enough to make him associate the two and think that the howling is what makes you come back. It would be interesting to try either waiting to appear until only after he calms down, or reappearing before he gets a chance to get upset, so that it breaks the association of howling -> your return.

    Again though, that would be part of his increased need for attention and you need to find the source of that.

  11. When my dogs start to lag behind when we go for a walk, it’s usually a sign that something is wrong. My one dog started to go blind, even though the vet said he was okay. He would walk and suddenly stop. Couldn’t get him to move. He would go only half way in the walk and I had to carry him the rest of the way. He hung his head down when walking. After a few months, he had a stroke.

  12. In the corner picture I noticed that Bubba was really stretching out to lean against the wall; as if he was making great effort to lean and not at all relaxed. Wonder if it’s a pain issue.

    Do you know any of the writers on Psych? Last nite they prominently showed a picture of a black pug in a portrait, mentioned a characer named Maximus, and at the end of the show Shawn and Juliette talked about wanting to have pugs. Was that an amazing coincidence or a shout out?

  13. Condolences to Thomas’ family and friends.

    As for Bubba, I’ve had my share of senior pets (several dogs and now my best equine pal) and what I’ve noticed that as they age, they seem to get very klingy and/or get something in their head that they absolutely need to do, no matter what. I suspect with my senior dogs that their hearing and eyesight were starting to go and they became very insecure. Since I’m the “alpha” dog around here and source of comfort, the senior dog would want to be with me all the time. If I sent them out (we live out in the country) with the younger dogs, they would seem depressed at first but then go on their merry way. Some developed odd behaviour in their senior years–my first shepherd decided she needed to sit in a certain spot every morning and bark for about 10 min and that was that. My mini schnauzer would follow me around in the afternoon bumping his head on the back of my leg until I would feed him or, like Bubba, sit against the sofa/wall/corner and stare. I assume dogs, like people, can develop issues with memory and do certain things that seem familiar (getting excited for a walk) or are comforting (hanging with a favourite person). My senior horse does the same and often does weird stuff that even confuses the other horses but he also tends to relax if I stand with him and rub him in his favourite spots when he gets a bit confused. If nothing is showing up medically, my guess is Bubba is getting older (maybe a bit confused & insecure) and just wants more hugs, comfort, and special attention–who knows maybe he forgot previous attention and keeps thinking he needs more!

  14. Poor wittle baby Bubbaman. Maybe it is just age. keep an eye on him. Maybe he is bored and wants to move some place where it is always sunny so he can go for walks every day. My dog stares at me like that sometimes. She’ll sit on the end of the couch, looking at me like I’m the most disgusting thing she’s seen all day. She can be very rude when she wants to be.

    Sympathies to Thomas Smethurst’s family and friends. Saying a prayer for all of you.

  15. Very sad to hear about Thomas. My condolences to his friends, family, and all who loved him. Rest in sweet peace.


  16. Joe – there may be a few things affecting Bubba. Sight and hearing problems, an underlying illness, joint pain, and other things that have been mentioned. But I would also ask the vet if it could be early signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. I truly hope it is nothing like that, but it was the first thing that popped into my mind.

    I hate it when our furry babies get old. 🙁


  17. I am devistated to read about Thomas…I met him on Twitter years ago because we both have insomnia. I didn’t know he had cancer. My battle with cancer has kept me from chatting on Twitter…but I still loved hearing him talk about hockey.

    Thomas use to love to play me music…tell me of concerts he would go too. We both lived Stargate…but talked about everything else. He was far too young.

    And…I can’t stop crying.

  18. Condolences to the family and friends of Thomas Smethurst. He is probably spending his time with all the heroes and villains of StarGate that have gone before.

    As someone who has done the Baseline method for a living, Joe, I would suggest keeping a video or written log of Bubba’s odd behaviors. You know, the what when and how long route that is necessary when attempting to determine a cause for a behaviour or illness. When you do this, you can see if the pattern is progressing and if there is anything that leads up to it that you may not be seeing. It also provides your vet with more information that may help with a diagnosis.

  19. Maybe something is hurting Bubba when he’s walking ? like too long claws or something else.

  20. I don’t think I knew Thomas-did I? What name did he use here.?

    I am with chevron7 on this. My first thought would be that Maximus is paying him a visit and maybe all he needs you to do is acknowledge it and talk to Maximus. Keep us updated. We worry.

  21. I’m sending prayers to Thomas’ family. SG fans are the best, and so are the cast and crew, so he must have been a wonderful soul.

    I hope Bubba’s not ill and just needs a little dog whispering. A toddler who sleeps great on their own but who got sick and therefore was held more will then very quickly latch onto the new status quo. So weeks after the fever has passed the baby will demand to be carried or that mom sleep with him. And can you blame them? Who would settle for less love and attention, after getting lots? Sure you can be firm with Bubba but all he’s going to be thinking is “where’s the love?” He could also be having hearing trouble?

  22. Bubba believes that he is the leader of your pack so when he is out he want to stay out………. he is leading after all. The separation anxiety comes because , as leader of the pack it is his responsibility to protect the rest of the pack so when any of the pack are out of his sight he is stressed. You need to take back your position as the leader of the pack and the problems will go away.

  23. My dog has the same symptoms as Bubba. The vet told us its a circulation problem that’s caused by the heart not working properly. As a result there is a fluid build up around his lungs. At the moment he’s on water tablets, but…

    I hope I’m wrong about your dog, Joe, but it sounds like a possibility. Or, maybe he has dementia? I suppose dogs must get that too.

    I’m sorry to hear about Thomas. My prayers are with his family.

  24. I’m a vet; without actually seeing Bubba, I would consider putting him on something for arthritis – it comes and goes, could make him more reluctant to continue at the end of the walk, and clingy if he’s a little sore. Otherwise I kind of worry about brain tumors, too, from your description (but they tend to be progressively worse, not wax and wane in signs). New found food allergies in a dog his age are REALLY unlikely.
    I now have a pug myself (and it’s partly your fault!) Her name is Jiggly Pug (’cause she sings like the Pokemon), Pug or JiJi for short. She’s unlike any dog I’ve had before since my previous dogs have been normal i.e. not pugs.
    My condolences to Thomas’ family.

  25. Hey Joe, did your vet thoroughly test Bubba’s vision and hearing? Older dogs can lose their sensory abilities, and it creates some strange reactions in them. They depend (in the wild, at least) on those senses for survival, so when they suddenly are living in a silent, darkish world, they can have strange behavioral and fear reactions. Also, there is such a thing as senior dog dementia. It’s well documented and their are meds for it. Be sure to talk to your vet about that.

  26. So sorry to hear about Thomas. My condolences to his family, friends and the people who knew him on this blog.

    Re Bubba: My thoughts are that he’s quite raring to go out for walkies in the beginning, but once he’s out and about, there might be some pain happening that’s keeping his mind busy. Dogs usually yelp at sudden sharp pain, so I’m thinking that this is either a heavy muscular or bone pain. The pain might be so bad at times that he needs all his faculties to be able to deal with it, which might explain why he’s not all there on the way back after a walk. Do you have a little wagon that you could put him in so he could enjoy the outing without the possible pain that we’re talking about here? This way you can see whether his demeanour changes or not. Just my suggestion after giving this some thought. So hard to deal with our sick furballs…

  27. I suspect it’s a mixture of stubbornness and old age. I find, as I creep closer to my 50s, I’m getting a little grumpier, and sometimes just stop doing something (writing, exercising, doing housework) the second I decide I’ve had enough.

  28. Funny you mention these recent personality changes with Bubba. We have noticed similar changes in our Pit Brandi.

    She almost demands near constant attention. Sitting on the recliner next to me, wandering into our bedroom after we have tucked her in on the couch. Following us everywhere around the house. Opening our sons door to lay on his floor when no one is home. She has become very needy. Although there are no problems with treats or eating.

    She will be 9 this year, so I just attributed it to her getting older.

    R.I.P. Thomas.

  29. I can’t believe I forgot to mention this. Have you tried taking his temp at home? It’s pretty easy. You can use a digital thermometer (make sure you label it 😉 ) put some k-y on it and insert gently. A dog’s temp is a little higher than ours. Normal dog temp is around 100-101.5F (37.7-38.6C). Good luck and please give all the pups a hug from me. Thanks.

  30. Keep an eye on any hearing problems. As dogs age and hearing loss develops it tends to be intermittent, coming and going at various times. My old boxer will suddenly stop and tilt his head as if trying to hear something, and then run to me for reassurance. When his hearing clears up, he’s fine and returns to normal activity. Just a thought.

  31. My prayers to family of a fellow Gater. Please say Hi to Don S. Davis (Gen. Hammond) for us, man, we’ll miss both of you.

    On the Bubba front, he’s showing the same signs (aside from the walking routine change) the same behavior our Golden Retriever did when he first started to lose his hearing. Could it be that he’s going deaf? Our “Old Man” Bailey used to do the refrigerator thing and still does when he sees you going to the fridge, but if he doesn’t see you, you have to bring him the treat. That change in him was scary and heartbreaking, but we were all relieved that it wasn’t anything more severe than hearing loss. Try keeping an eye on how he reacts to sounds around him other than the refrigerator, that’s what we did. And the seperation anxiety thing, at least with our Bailey, was out of the fact that he needed us to be his ears and got anxious when we weren’t around because he wasn’t really hearing well anymore.

  32. My Boston mix is 16 & she turned into a “velcro” dog & started falling off the porch, the couch, etc. I would whistle or clap my hands & realized her hearing was gone. I also believe she has lost her depth perception by the way she misses the couch. Makes me cringe but I don’t over-react when she knocks the breath out of herself. She also gets “lost” if she’s facing the door hinge instead of the opening. Since she also has cancer, the vet & I agreed I would just try to find humor in her wacky new ways. My agreement with her all those years ago was I would supply food, water, shelter & she would never suffer pain. I figure I have the summer, at most

  33. Erratic or odd behaviour and increased anxiety could be the first signs of dementia. It’s not as common in dogs as people but it does happen. I had a labrador that suffered dementia.

  34. Liver, my Snippy had the same issues. Died of Liver Cancer. Do yourself a favor and have it biopsied so you can at least rule it out. Time I knew, it was too late. I miss my Snippy…

  35. I’m sorry Joe that I have no idea whats wrong with Bubba, but I do hope you will keep us up to date on him.
    I wish you luck.

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