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Pass Out Pooches

Pass Out Pooches

By Hannah Isom

Now here at the Null, we’re not ones to mock the afflicted (honest). But when you’re perusing the pages of a certain well-known online video community and you happen across a video entitled “Skeeter, the narcoleptic poodle”, temptation just gets the better of you.

It seems that poor little Skeeter is among a number of drowsy dogs with a condition known as narcolepsy, a disorder that causes uncontrollable attacks of sleeping during normal daytime hours. Every ‘waking’ moment for Skeeter, an 11-pound toy poodle from Chubbuck, Idaho, is a constant struggle with the sandman. He even finds it difficult to stay awake for his walkies, swaying and wobbling around like someone who’s enjoyed one too many sherries, until eventually he loses the battle and hits the deck.

To make matters worse, Skeeter’s condition gets even worse when he’s excited, and it is not unknown for him to fall asleep sitting up during meal times. And it seems that this pass out pooch is not alone. Rusty the narcoleptic dachshund, is also constantly dog tired and unable to stay on four feet.

And if you still haven’t had enough of animals with insane sleeping disorders (how could you ever have enough?) there’s also footage of a narcoleptic chick dropping off in perilous circumstances.

Narcolepsy is thought to affect around 3 million people worldwide; at any given moment there are a lot of people sleeping on the job. Other symptoms experienced by sufferers include sleep paralysis, hallucinations and cataplexy – a sort of temporary paralysis which leaves you glued to the spot. Currently the condition can only be treated with drugs that help alleviate the symptoms, such as stimulants.

The causes of this disease have baffled scientists. It affects many different species, from horses to mice, but it is the study of narcolepsy in dogs that has provided perhaps the greatest insights.

Researchers at the University of Stanford in the US have been studying paralysis-prone pooches for a number of years, and in 1999, they discovered the gene that they think may hold the key to understanding the condition. The gene, known as hypocretin receptor 2, makes a neurotransmitter called orexin, a tiny molecule that relays information between nerves. Narcoleptic dogs studied had lower than normal levels of orexin.

The discovery led to a mad scramble by scientists to find out whether human snoozers suffered a similar problem, and lo-and-behold, they did. So maybe we’re that bit closer to finding a cure for narcolepsy. Not that we want to get too close though - there’s more fun still to be had filming sleep disturbed poodles.

One day we might write an article on these fainting goats as well.

Hannah's written loads of great articles to keep you wide awake.  Have a look.

And here's a selection of other sleep related stuff:

- Spoof - The sleep retardant properties of my ex-girlfriend
- Straight - Judges sleeping on the job
- News - Night owls get depressed
- Strange -
Getting the kids to sleep

Image: Matteo Metalla

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09 Feb 2009
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