Jelly has been known to fake an injury or two...

Is Jelly Injured or Just Being Dramatic? Why She Pretends to Be Hurt

Hi, I’m Allison. Read my introduction to learn more about me and my three mixed-breed dogs from Thailand, Jelly, Lorraina, and Manic.

When you were a kid, did you ever fake an illness to get out of school? Holding the thermometer in a glass of hot water to show a dangerously (and deadly) high temp of 125.4°F will surely get you out of that history test. Or perhaps you could cling to your stomach and moan in pain. After all, it is hard to prove a stomachache.

If you ever did this as a kid, you know when to turn on the symptoms of an illness or injury and when to turn them off. But does a dog know how to do this? I believe Jelly knows how to fake an injury when she wants attention.

An “Injured” Back Leg

When we were living in Thailand, there was a neighborhood dog that did not get along with Jelly. It was a shame, really. They were good fur-friends when they were puppies. However, when Bob (yes…that was her name) got a bit older, she started being slightly aggressive towards Jelly. Bob had about 25 pounds on Jelly, so she never tried to start a fight with Bob. When Bob did get aggressive, Jelly would give a low growl and retreat back to the house.

But one day, Jelly decided not to back down. Bob was no stranger to a fight and started to approach Jelly. Realizing that she would win this, Jelly retreated—but not fast enough. Bob nipped her back leg before I shooed her away from my baby girl. Jelly cried out in pain and ran into the house.

My poor innocent baby! My heart hurt seeing my Jellybean hurt. I quickly went to check her leg. No blood. Not even a wet spot where Bob’s mouth had been, thank goodness. Jelly was going to be okay. But she had an expression on her face like she had witnessed corpses coming out of their graves. Plus, she limped a bit. My sweet little Bean. She was probably just scared by the encounter. I gave her a few treats, as you would a child who had to get a shot at the doctor’s office. She will be fine by the evening, I told myself.

Nope. The limping continued. For days. Sometimes, I would catch her walking around normally, but then as soon as she caught my eye, the limping commenced. And, being the soft-hearted dog mother that I am, I treated her “wounds” with turkey jerky.

Jelly sleeping on the bed
Jelly in “recovery”

The Fake Heart Attack

Eventually, Jelly did walk as if she had never been injured. I do not want to reject my dog’s notion of pain (I was not the one who got nipped, after all) but I did not see any blood, bite marks, or bruising. So why did she limp for so long? And only when I caught her eye. Occasionally, she would get into a “rumble” with Bob and the same thing would happen: no visible injuries but exaggerated limping and the prolonged look-at-how-much-pain-I-am-in expression. And I coddled her every chance I got.

But could she be faking the extent of her injuries for attention and snacks? Would she take advantage of my good nature like this? Nah. Not my little princess.

However, a few years later, another incident happened. I came home from dinner with my husband and was greeted by Jelly, Lorraina, Manic, and a new neighborhood dog, Kai. Manic had only recently joined the family a few months ago. But he was already bigger than Jelly, and often pushed her out of the way to compete for our attention. Kai, who lived a few houses down, idolized Manic and copied his every action—which included shoving past Jelly so he could be one of the first to greet us whenever we got home.

With two rowdy male dogs plus Lorraina vying for pets and scruffs when we came home, Jelly decided she had had enough. As we were petting the other three dogs, Jelly, who was standing a few feet away from them, let out a yelp and collapsed to the ground. My husband rushed to her side as I cried, “Jelly! Are you okay!?”

As soon as she had the two of us nearby and worried sick, she got to her feet and wagged her tail. Even though it was dark, she seemed to have a look of smug triumph. She had our undivided attention. Her fake heart attack worked. Even though she was fine, I vowed never to greet the other dogs before her. Experiencing that again would give me an actual heart attack.

Jelly, Lorraina, Manic, and Kai
Jelly, Lorraina, Manic, and Kai

Is Jelly Being Dramatic? Maybe, Maybe Not

While there have been times when I have doubted Jelly’s injuries, there have also been times when she was genuinely hurt. I can handle the occasional dramatics, as it is all a part of her personality. I would never forgive myself if I ignored a real illness or injury.

But I wish I knew where she picked up that behavior. Definitely not from me! I think…

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