Nibbles and the Scary Seizure

Posted on January 8, 2012


My 100 lb. black lab Nibbles likes to hang out with me when I am doing strength training. Good for her. Bad for me. So I put up a baby gate. That way I don’t 1)  step on/yell at/fall over her and she doesn’t 2) eat the cat food, cat litter, cat toys, people toys, boxes, pieces of metal, shards of glass, knives, anything that might be appetizing to her.

Nibbles does not value personal space and her palate is atrocious. The gate goes up.

A curious thing happens to Nibbles when I do strength training. At first she mashes herself against the gate. To her it must be the same as being right there with me. She likes being with me. So she gets a good mash-on every time. I warm up for a few minutes. Her tail wags. It’s all good. Mashed-to-the-gate good. Oh yeah!

But then I do my first plank. Within 30 seconds, I am shaking and Nibbles’ demeanor begins to change. Her tail goes down. Her ears go up. She is slightly concerned. “Is Lady Sisyphus okay?”

I am holding my plank but begin to shake more. I am sweating. I am cussing like I have Tourette’s. It’s not pretty. “Is Lady Sisyphus having a seizure?!”  Poor Nibbles is out of her mind by now. She issues forth a  combination bark-high pitched whine. Woof! whhhhhiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnneeee. Woof! Woof! whhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnneeeee. Woof!  By the end of my plank she is at full-mashdom, bark-whining and wed to the idea of getting her 100 lb. body through a three square inch piece of the gate.

No doubt to save me. Or to eat the knives. We hold the same rank.

I’ve come to believe that Nibbles is one of those dogs who can sense things. She’s special that way. When I am distressed, she is distressed. To a dog, distress is distress. Seizure, exertion, hunger, squirrel, it’s all the same distress to her. She doesn’t call 911 or pace or run upstairs to tell Sisy’s mom she has fallen down a well.  When it comes to strength training, she mashes herself against the gate and assumes the “gravely concerned” position.

It’s the same when I grunt my way through shoulder presses or yell my way through a set of squats. At first she is intrigued but within seconds she is fully gate-smashed and downright terrified. Lord Sisyphus has theorized that without the gate, she’d rush to my side and promptly administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Good dog. (Ack!) Who needs 911?

Her behavior is curious to me. (Well, to be honest, it’s annoying.) I often wonder what goes through her dog-brain. Our family has given her the nick-name “Ten-Second Nibbles” because she has a memory about that long. Clearly that’s the case when it comes to my strength training schedule. You’d think she’d know by now that I am going to shake, sweat and make loud terrible noises. Terrifying gate-mashing noises. But Ten-Second Nibbles doesn’t remember much except “food” and “treats” and “gotta go.” Everything else is scary. She is her own Sisyphus, pushing the same fear up the same hill day after day. Poor Nibbles.

Meanwhile, Hoss the elderly cat lounges just outside the gate in his usual “Ha-ha. I’m in. You’re not,” yoga pose. He simply enjoys the show.