Gandalf the Dog:

The Story of Gandalf: An Australian Shepherd:

gandalf11a.jpgThis is also a story of Reactive Attachment Disorder, and the brain maps, in our experience, are uncannily similar to those of children of drug or alcohol addicted parents from our own country, or adopted from abroad. Here, the model with an animal is remarkably free of the human complications that would be equivalent.

After our old Aussie (Australian Sheep Dog) Moondog died (of spinal injuries possible strokes and old age) (See also the Animals Powerpoint with images of moondog before and after LENS treatment.) Stephen and Robin Larsen decided, in 2005 to adopt a Hurricane Katrina refugee dog if possible. But we wanted an Aussie (ranked as the most intelligent of dogs, in a recent article in National Geographic (March 2008), along with their cousins Border Collies. Gandalf, from Eastern Connnecticut, a little over a year old was who Aussie Rescue came up with.

The Family who bought Gandalf from a pet store were not ready for the “proactivity,” nor the temperament of an Aussie. So Gandalf was locked in a crate for almost the first year of life. He was also neglected, so he lay often in his own urine and feces, and food and water was provided erratically. When we got him, he had incessant fear barking, sudden random biting, incontinence, anxiety and hysteria, combined with couch climbing and counter surfing. (He was quite a handful for a couple of sixty year olds.)

We had an ulterior motive, beside wanting to save the neglected animals of the world. We wanted to see how much help the LENS treatment could offer for a seriously damaged animal–thus also deriving some insight in how best to help our similarly neglected or abused human patients.

Our results were amazingly positive, but it must be admitted that we cannot disentangle the independent variable of the LENS treatment from lots of TLC, feeding and nurturing of the dog–we also made sure that he got a lot of exercise, swimming after thrown frisbees in our pond.

Gandalf Map 1Gandalf Map 2Gandalf Map 3

The maps are about three months apart, and the difference between the first and the third is truly enormous. If the same cortical topography as in humans transfers to dogs, the first map shows the creature terrified about the world and his own uncontrollable reactions to it. Some neurotherapy wisdom places the “picture of the world” in the right parietal and the “image of the self in the left.” (It looks almost identical to a psychiatrist colleague’s case with a young child from a Russian orphanage.)

On the bottom graph, based on frequency versus amplitude, there is also a “hot spot” at Pz in the central parietal that may be associated with this dog’s hypervigilance. The second graph shows that frequency bullseye expanding and changing, and the third shows it shrunken to a shadow of its former self. Nonetheless it is there, and in no wise have we cured Gandalf of being an Australian Shepherd. He still herds children, horses, Volkswagens, and family members with the annoying habit of being distressed if they gravitate toward separate places, rather than staying in a clump.


The right hand map shows “all quiet on the western front,” except for that annoying little elevation at PZ. We’ve decided that this is where, in a sense, his sheepdog personality dwells; that is so very attentive to everything in his environment. But he is one great watchdog, and as long as he has a job–taking in horses that are in the wrong pasture, or chasing a frisbee that has been thrown into a pond, he is a very happy dog.