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Monday, February 22, 2016

Amygdala, Medula and the Frontal Lobe (it's about a dog)

[Parts of the brain are important in this blog post.  I mean, not in the way we  read, understand and laugh, which is the usual way but in a more basic way.  To this end, please remember that the frontal lobe is part of the cerebral cortex involved in, among other things, making plans and judgments.]

In one way, my daughter is a chip off the old block.  Sure, she’s smarter and cuter and more motivated than I am, but she does have the same dark humor, so when she Face Booked this story about her dog, I asked her if she would guest post it for me.  I need to tell you that my darling girl is a neuroscientist.  (I mentioned she was smarter than me, right?)  Yes, she’s a clever thing, so while the amydala is the part of the brain linked to emotion, more importantly, it can conveniently morph into a FB handle.  This story is written by Amy G Dala or, as I like to call her, Dr. Smartie Pants.

So Amy G.'s family recently got a puppy that is the spit and image of the RCA Victor dog.  Anyone remember good ol' Nipper?  Being into Mom’s neuroscience stuff, the family. named their dog Medulla which is the part of the brain that controls heartbeat and breathing  It was an apt name as the puppy excels at these things; no training needed. They are training him for the harder things like sit and stay and off.  All training, though, is subject to mishaps, so let’s begin by saying the dog is okay.  The dog is fine.  The story goes like this.

My 6-month old puppy, Medulla, is still house-training.  I took him outside where he pulled away from me Sunday morning and ran straight into traffic on the highway, where he was instantly hit. Twice. By two different cars.
By the time I ran out onto the road, the man (car 2) who had hit him was standing over him crying, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry" and sobbing. Cars were whizzing by us and I realized we were going to get hit. I tried to lift my dog, but he fell out of my arms (me imagining torn organs, broken spine - collapsing and stressing and tearing), and I half dropped him.

 "Help me lift him, please" I gasped, and the flapping man did as asked (still babbling at me). We lowered Medulla onto the grass in front of my house. Blood was gushing from his mouth, his nose, everywhere, and he gurgled with every breath.  (I was imagining his lungs collapsing, throat crushed, jaw broken).  He lay there, breathing and gurgling, as the man flapped around "I'm SO sorry, I'm sorry."

This is his last breath, I thought, petting my dog. No, this one. ("I'm sorry" sobs the man, "gurgle gurgle" bubbles the dog). No, this one.

And then, know what? The dog raises his head, licks his face with his bloody tongue, and looks around with interest and tries to stand up.  I just   about   killed    him.


So we got away with a VERY broken femur in a hind leg, which meant a surgery, and broken toes all on his front leg, which means a cast, and a broken tooth and bruised mouth and his neuter stitches torn open, BUT - the dog is home. The dog is fine. The children are Thrilled. We are reeling but okay. 
My husband is absolutely right, though: we should have named him Frontal Lobe.
Medulla associated beginning to piddle 
in the house with getting hit by a car.  
He is now completely house-trained