Date: Sept. 5, 2014
Location: private residence
Outdoor Conditions: warm, sunny, very windy, loud talking from next-door neighbors and noise from a couple of construction workers working with machinery on the sidewalk across the street
Indoor conditions: cool, quiet, some windows open to varying degrees
Glimmer and I arrived at the residence at 11:10am. The owners left their key with the downstairs tenant, who was waiting for us. Glimmer greeted the tenant with the excitement she usually displays when she greets people. The tenant and I chatted for a few minutes, giving Glimmer time to calm down and take stock of the new environment. Then, he took us up to the home in which Glimmer would be working.
Upon entering, Glimmer immediately became anxious and unsure, and began to sniff at everything she could reach. This is normal behavior for her when she enters a new environment. I spoke with the tenant for a few minutes while Glimmer worked to familiarize herself with the unfamiliar sounds, sights, and smells around her. I informed him that our new team member, Christine, would be joining us to film the session. At approximately 11:25am, the tenant left, leaving Glimmer and I alone in the home. Before we began the session, Glimmer was taken outside to do her business.
For the next two hours, while waiting for Christine to arrive, I repeatedly took Glimmer through every accessible room and area of the home, using a voice recorder to document her behavior and responses. After each walk-through was completed, she was taken outside to do her business, and then given a rest period of approximately 10 minutes. During these breaks, the voice recorder was left running in the living room.
Glimmer was unusually nervous and anxious almost the entire time. During the first walk-through, in the spare room – reported by several friends of the homeowners to have unusual activity – she displayed a fear response so acute that it caused her to have an accident on the carpet. No visible or audible cause for this high level of anxiety could be found.
Near the end of the second hour, Glimmer finally did become calm. She laid down on the carpet in the living room, and dozed in a sunbeam. She remained alert, but the anxiety and stress she had been displaying finally dissipated. On two occasions spaced at least an hour apart, I offered her one of the treats the homeowners give their dogs. She was calm, and I wanted to reward that. Glimmer’s normal response after receiving a treat and then being told “no more” or “all gone” is to just walk away. However, in both instances, she displayed a completely opposite behavior, becoming vocal and demanding, barking at me – and once, even growling at me.
The entire testing session lasted just over three hours. Approximately half an hour before Christine arrived, I began filming with my camera. Christine arrived at approximately 1:15pm, and she took over filming until the session wrapped, at 2:35pm. Throughout the most of the session, Glimmer’s anxiety remained abnormally high. She also could not adjust to the surroundings. She exhibited excessive sniffing tendencies at everything from the carpets to knick-knacks and pictures on tables high enough that she had to lift her head to reach them, and on several occasions, she became completely still, her head slightly down, ears slightly forward and up, and tail either completely down, or partially down, as she stared intently at whatever she was seeing. Though we tried, we could not find any visible or audible causes for her unusual behavior.
Glimmer has only exhibited this high level of intense anxiety once before – at the Cat & Fiddle Pub. She has been taken to several areas over the past year prior to, and since her visit to the Pub, and she has not exhibited that high level of anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. She does present a normal level of excitement when first arriving at a location, but usually, within approximately 15 to 20 minutes – which is generally the time she needs to smell everything and familiarize herself with the terrain – she calms down and focuses on doing her job.
To show Christine just how unusual Glimmer’s behavior was, upon returning home, Christine was invited in for coffee and to start the video and audio analysis of the session. Fifteen minutes later, the treat bag was removed from the closet and Glimmer was called. Glimmer responded immediately, and went into a sit position. She was calm and relaxed, and her attention was focused on me. She was given a command, and when she performed the task and received the treat reward, she was told “no more” and “all gone.” Upon hearing those words, she calmly stood, turned around, and walked away. She did see the treat bag, and she did see that it was open, but she did not attempt to get to it, nor did she demand more. She just walked away and resumed whatever she had been doing before being called.
We presented our data to the homeowners the following day (Sept. 6). As one of them is a dog behaviorist, we were particularly interested in her response to the video footage. Having never met Glimmer in person, the homeowners had no way of knowing what Glimmer is normally like, but they did agree that she should have become calm and relaxed within the first hour of our visit. They also agreed that Glimmer exhibited an abnormally high level of anxiety, uncertainty, insecurity, and even fear each time she became still and stared at something neither Christine nor I could see.
Analysis of the audio recording has revealed the capture of some vocal anomalies I have not yet found an explanation for. Video analysis shows Glimmer physically reacting to something we could not see or hear. It is unknown at this time if she was responding to spirit activity or some kind of outdoor stimuli we did not see or hear, or if her high anxiety was the causes of her responses. Thus, I cannot state conclusively that Glimmer is sensitive to spirit activity, or that she responds to said activity. However, there is no denying that she did have reactions to something, and that whatever she was reacting to was strong enough to keep her in a state of high anxiety and nervousness for nearly three hours.
Based on these findings – and to determine whether or not Glimmer’s behavior was a result of the stimuli in the environment – further testing in the same location seems to be in order, in the hope that familiarity with the environment will generate a calmer state, and thus, more conclusive results.
We would like to extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the homeowners for granting us access to their home while they were at work, and for allowing me to bring Glimmer into their home. We also want to extend our thanks to them for their hospitality and kindness during the reveal the following day. We definitely look forward to working with them again in the near future.