Can dogs have autism? No one knows for sure yet, but according to Rover.com, there’s mounting evidence that it’s possible.
A Dartmouth family has adopted a dog who is believed to be autistic.
dr Nancy Duncan volunteers at Forever Paws Animal Shelter in Fall River, a non-kill non-profit animal shelter that relies on donations, fundraising and dedicated philanthropists and supporters.
There met Dr. Duncan on Addie Mae.
Addie Mae is an American Fox Hound, American Pit Bull, American Bulldog, Chow, and Great Pyrenees mix. Addie Mae was just two months old when she arrived at Forever Paws in July 2021 after being attacked by a much larger dog where she lived.
The shelter asked Dr. Duncan to groom Addie Mae for the weekend as she needed to be in a dog-free environment due to the attack. The Duncan family dog had recently passed away.
When the weekend was over, Dr. Duncan, her husband Andy and their son Cooper to adopt Addie Mae.
dr Duncan said Addie Mae’s behavior was strange from the start.
“She showed aggression but usually at odd times like when she was wagging her tail and seemed happy to see us,” she said. “She would snap to get us away from her.”
The Duncans consulted specialists including trainers, veterinarians and a veterinary behaviorist in Dennisport, who first suspected that Addie Mae might be on the autism spectrum. dr Duncan said Addie Mae is “extremely anxious and needs to take multiple medications to keep calm”.
dr Duncan spends 30 minutes daily teaching Addie Mae life skills and controls her schedule as much as possible.
“If she’s had an anxious day, we let her rest as much as possible, which helps,” she said.
dr Duncan said there are still some issues after nine months but they are making progress.
“We still can’t just reach out and pet her, but she will pet us,” said Dr. Duncan, adding that Addie Mae is “super smart”. “I taught her to file her own nails on sandpaper as I can’t cut them myself.”
Then there are the strange times when fear takes over.
“I can’t put toys with faces in her box when I leave because she’s very scared,” said Dr. Duncan. “She jumps onto my kitchen table on all four feet and stares at the cactus for 20 minutes without eating it or doing anything but staring.”
dr Duncan said Addie Mae will “accidentally and inexplicably get scared of things like the front or back door, then suddenly she’ll be fine.”
Watch the video of Addie Mae’s reaction to the door here.
It sounds like everyone involved benefited somewhat from this experience.
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