We know there is something mildly wrong with Nicki. The doggie ophthalmoligist has ruled out a vision problem; she obviously has no problems with hearing (when she wants to hear), and she has an appointment with a doggie neurologist November 13 to do an assessment.
This is the way that Ashley wrote up her description on the Petfinder.com web page:
Nikki is a special little girl. She has an undiagnosed neurological problem that we are still working with vets to figure out. She is a very happy puppy, but she has trouble seeing things, sometimes circles, and may have some trouble hearing too. These are not related to problems with her ears or eyes, but problems within her brain. Typically these things do not progress, and she will live a long and happy life. She just needs a home that understands she is a little special, and may be a bit harder to train. Nikki's mom is a small 10 lbs terrier mix, so she wont be too big, and her dad was probably a cocker mix but we do not know dad for sure. Nikki loves to play, and run around with the other dog in her foster home. She is a very sweet little puppy who just needs a little extra time.
But in the meantime, I have diagnosed her myself: she has doggie autism.
Now, I don't know if there even is such a thing as doggie autism (and yes, I know the difference between autism and Downs Syndrome, unlike, apparently, Senator McCain, who, in the debate this week, more than once referred to Sarah Palin's personal familiarity with autism). But I've been watching Nicki today and figured out that when you put it all together, it seems to fit.
First of all, she's the sweetest little puppy ever. Just look at that face. Can anybody resist that? She is also one of the easiest puppies we've had, if you discount the razor sharp teeth sinking into your toes if you forget to put on regular shoes and attempt to be, you know...comfortable around the house. (Haven't worn shoes so consistently since last winter!)
But she is just...different. She has absolutely no interest in anybody else...well, except for her mother, but Hannah has now moved to a new foster home to make the separation easier for Hannah herself. Nicki played with her, but doesn't seem to notice that she's not here any more.
She occasionally shows passing interest in Sheila or Lizzie,but not much...and mostly as something big to attack to play with, like our toes. More likely, she is along side one or the other of them, until she loses interest and wanders off.
Her favorite toy is Sheila's food bowl, which is stainless steel in which she can see her distorted reflection. She will spend a very long time attacking the bowl, carrying it around, barking at it, and seeming to invite it to play with her.
She does like to go after things hanging over her head--like the aprons hanging in the kitchen, or the low hanging leaves on the bushes on the patio.
But if you pick her up, she has none of the "bonding with humans" attitude. She has no concept of "cuddling" and only wants to get down immediately. Endures petting, but doesn't seek it or appear to enjoy it much--doesn't not enjoy it, but she's the least affectionate puppy we've ever had (which, considering that she is a chihuahua/cocker mix, both breeds very affectionate, is very strange).
She also eats her own poop, unless I catch her right away, and seems unaware when she's peed somewhere, unlike other puppies. She walks right through it without noticing.
But, as I said, she is basically a very easy dog. She seems to have a real "off" switch. She has her active time at night, when she races back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, in the house, out of the house, running in circles, chasing Sheila's food bowl, attacking the empty bag of dog food she discovered yesterday, which I have just left on the floor because she's having such fun with it. But when she works herself up to barking and barking and barking and I reach saturation, I just put her in the doggie cage and it's like as soon as she gets in the cage, all four legs collapse. She falls asleep instantly and sleeps until I wake her up 8 hours later.
Today I was trying to take this photo for Flickr and she was being very active and struggling to leap out of my lap. I took the teddy bear, moved it toward her, she laid her head down on it, and fell asleep instantly.
So I don't know what the deal is with the little doggie. I suspect she's going to make a very good pet for someone who can deal with her idiosyncracies. And, if nothing else, she certainly does keep us laughing at night.