2011 April

Arran, the bird-dog

by Geoff Johnson

Arran, a 5 years old entire male border collie, presented with arthritis of the thoracic spine and pelvis on 25/3/08, confirmed by radiography. The pelvis gave him great discomfort, demonstrated by pain on palpation and difficulty rising.

In the consulting room, he was lively, excitable, and starting at little movements and noises. He approached me and accepted a stroke and then returned to the owner, whom he licked and clung to slightly, pawing her leg and hiding behind her a bit. He was fearful and trembling on being examined and sought protection from the owner. He was very alert. “He is very watchful and has 360 degree senses.”

He was chosen by the owners from his litter-mates because they noticed that he was always exploring and on his own, "although he was not an outcast." He kept climbing up things and falling off. He is very intelligent. He will not let visitors approach initially but, given time, he will go to them. If someone really wants to be loved by him, however, he will not oblige - “he hates being over-smothered.” He has always had a nervous edge, which is worse with children because they “barge and crash and he slinks off.” He loves walking, particularly at the sea and in open spaces, like the moors, rather than in woodland.

He is excessively sensitive to feelings; if someone is crying, he comes, puts his head on their knees, and is very quiet. If they are laughing, he brings a toy and wants to be with them. Raised voices make him cower and freeze. He waits until he knows what you want him to do and then does it. He is very obedient and adores being trained but hates the lead. He has profuse slobbering because he pants so much in the car, being so excited by winding lanes “because they are walks and fun,” but settles and sleeps on the motorway. His favorite game is jumping in the air and catching things. When his back is bad, he becomes more jumpy, is averse to touch, and does not want a fuss. The physiotherapist says his muscles are frequently in spasm, especially the neck.

He hates bathing. He hates being cornered in any way and cowers or tries to get out but in a defensive way rather than an attacking way. He would never chase sheep; once another dog chased some sheep and Arran went, rounded up the other dog, and brought her back “because he knew I was concerned and intuitively he does my wishes.”

He is not top or bottom dog, and is not too concerned about hierarchy. He will, however, fight an aggressor. He is not over-sexed. He is a bit jealous and if the owner makes a fuss of another dog, he becomes “a sickening goody-two shoes”. He pushes between the owner and her partner when they cuddle. He behaves worse when the owner is with him at the physiotherapist's “because he feels he has to protect me.” He is not clairvoyant. He is sensitive to changes in atmosphere, which makes him sneeze. When a visitor unknown to him comes, he barks ferociously until he is told to stop, and then goes away to his bed. If the visitor is a friend, he is delighted and tries to get a game going.


Remember, it is important to listen to the exact words of the owner.
There are several themes running through the case:
1: tubercular energy – averse to being smothered, cornered, the lead; the desire for open spaces, winding roads cause excitement, the exploring and climbing as a small puppy. 2: Empathy – meaning an awareness and full comprehension of others’ feelings. This is different from sympathy, which does not suggest such understanding, and clairvoyance, which suggests knowledge but not necessarily with sympathy. Note that the snakes are clairvoyant, the spiders have a great sensitivity to others' feelings but cannot understand them, and mammals have compassion and the power to comfort.
3: Alertness

The kingdom is not as obvious here as in some cases but the alertness and 'aliveness' suggests an animal remedy, although some plant (e.g. Solanaceae) and mineral remedies (e.g. phosphorus compounds) can, of course, appear like this. It was more of a feeling that an animal remedy was required despite the fact that hierarchy was not an issue.

The degree of empathy or sympathy suggests a mammal or a bird remedy. The tubercular element suggests a bird, spider, or insect remedy. The fine tremor and great alertness together could suggest a bird – that feeling of holding a small bird in your hand. 360 degree vision suggests bird or insect remedy. I was considering a bird remedy after the first 10 minutes of consultation; the confirmation came through Arran's fears. “He is watchful with noise but not too bothered and is OK with fireworks and thunder. He is really twitchy in the morning with the dawn chorus and in the house, seems terrified by the calls of pheasants – he becomes twitchy and pants and rolls his eyes and clings to me, yet he will chase pheasants, when I let him out in the morning.”

After that statement the only decision was 'which bird to use?' A materia medica search revealed that Ovi gallinae pellicula (the inner lining of hen's egg) has a strong affinity to the lumbo-sacral area and is generally worse for over-exertion. The difficulty with veterinary homeopathy is that you cannot take the animal verbally to level 5 (sensation or source level), as you do with human patients, who may well tell you reasonably accurately what sort of bird they need! Chicken did not seem ideal because hierarchy is very important to them; 'pecking order'. The extreme 'Carcinosin like' obedience of Arran, however, could suggest a domesticated bird. Obviously, pheasant could be considered but my dealings with them do not suggest great intelligence!

Prescription: Ovi gallinae pellicula 200c bid 2doses, taken on 28/3/08


A month later: his lameness and discomfort were very much worse the day after taking the remedy. He could hardly move, was continually changing position, and would not be touched for 24 hours. Then, for three days, he was three times as bad in his reaction to the pheasants’ calls and the dawn chorus; “As soon as they started, he was squeaking and running up the stairs to get to me.” He had become very jumpy in the thoracic area, if he was touched.

Two months late: he looks great, has shown steady improvement, and is happy to be stroked. He shows no stiffness and just climbed Mt Snowdon in the snow, where he fell all over the place, yet seemed fine the next day. He has stopped coming upstairs. He is generally cheerier, has become less clingy and is not scared of everything all the time. The physiotherapist said he was transformed and could not understand how such a change occured in him in only 4 weeks. He can now stretch his legs right back.

Birds in Homeopathy

General animal themes present: survival, one-upmanship, jealousy, ego, competition, dirty, smallness, attack and defense.
It has been suggested that the animal theme is not as obvious in birds as in other families but I have not observed this.

Bird Mind

Impartial detachment but also connection – the way a homeopath must be detached but also connected

Intuition/natural knowing

Drugged disorientated, out of it, not there

Spiritual and search for it

Empathy +/- family awareness – often in healing professions

Group or family relationships depending on whether flock or solitary

Responsibility and freedom


Connection to mountains and sea

Freedom, travel +/- sophisticated, cosmopolitan

Pride without haughtiness

The urge to do it right – not quite perfectionism – to protect, care, mother




Indifferent, cold, detached


Trapped, escape, hunt, chase, fly, soar, high, heavy, hooks, surprise attack from the blue, rip, tear, violence, murder, buoyant, horizon, travel, extension, separated, focus, speed, swoop, suffocated, claws, blood, torture, crushing, power, heavy, light, suffocation, vision acute/clear/far/bright, caged, cornered, oppressed, free, free-spirited, free-fall, empathy, flight, clarity, direction, order, balance, speed, horizon.

Photos: Wikimedia Commons
A black and white border collie; Johh Leslie
Border Collie
"Griff", taken on a hill top (about 2,700 feet) in the Southern Uplands of Scotland; Beth Loft

Keywords: averse to being smothered, desire open spaces, empathy, alertness, arthritis, pelvic stiffness
Remedies: Ovi gallinae pellicula


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Posts: 8
Reply #3 on : Wed July 06, 2011, 02:54:23
I appreciate your knowledge of the bird kingdom, it really gave me a beautiful picture of this kingdom that I didn't know.
Brilliant case on your part.
Thanks and keep them coming.

Posts: 8
Ovi gallinae pellicula
Reply #2 on : Thu March 31, 2011, 19:50:08
Wonderful case study. It is interesting how an animal case can illuminate our understanding of people cases. As a sensation practitioner I wonder if the "bird mind" and "words" come from your own experience. It seems you have a clarity about birds that I have missed and I appreciate your guidance in this subkingdom. Jolinda

Posts: 8
Ovi gallinae pellicula
Reply #1 on : Wed March 30, 2011, 22:40:29
Great case Geoff. Thanks.