Friday, June 29, 2012

I wish I had a better picture to go with this, because Brea let me brush her teeth this morning.  She came downstairs to check out her food dish - she's had two walks today, and been fed after each one.  Her appetite has improved a lot since she first came to live here.  I started to offer her a treat with some toothpaste on it, and I thought, why not, give it a try - and she let me.  Maybe she was caught off guard, but she didn't try to escape when I was finished, and so she got her treat.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Brea still prefers to be left alone most of the time, although she is quicker to respond when I call her.  She's learning that when I call her, it's usually about going outside for a walk or for food.  Occasionally, she'll come into whatever room I'm in to see what I'm doing, and sometimes she'll lay down on the floor next to my chair for a few minutes.

Brea and squirrel checking each other out.
She's friendly with most of the dogs we've met on walks and seems interested and curious about cats and squirrels.  The only dog that seemed to frighten her was a much larger Weimaraner.  He was friendly but moved a little too fast for her.  I think he was trying to get her to play.

Friday, June 22, 2012

KSF, and a practice road trip

This morning, for the first time, Brea came downstairs to me when I called.

KSF - Kanawha State Forest - I saw that on one of those white oval car stickers.

Anyway, we went there this morning.  It took us about forty minutes to walk six tenths of a mile. Brea still seems deathly afraid of trash cans. And large boulders and park benches and single trees standing alone, but not forest-size groups of trees. I don't think she really enjoyed the walk. She picked up the pace when we got back in sight of the car.

I was hungry and wanted some coffee after that, so we went to Burger King. They didn't have chicken nuggets - too early - so I got Brea some hash rounds. She ate three and I ate the rest. She seems like a  pretty good (short distance) traveller. I hope I can take her to St. Louis sometime, but probably not this summer.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Brea's Surprise

I took Brea to Animal Care Associates this morning to be spayed and microchipped.  A couple hours later, Dr. Tackett called to tell me that after they had sedated her and shaved her belly, they discovered a spay scar.  So, one less thing to worry about. They did go ahead with the microchip. It's a relief to have both of those things behind us.

A fast moving thunderstorm came through the area while I was there, with some rain and thunder on the drive home. Brea whined a little and seemed anxious to get in the house.

She continued the whining and pacing once she was in the house, and I attributed it to the storm. After a few minutes, I went upstairs to check on her and discovered that she had peed on the floor in the upstairs hall. First time for everything. I'm blaming it on the storm and the lingering effects of the anesthesia. I took her back outside and she went some more. I hope that's the end of it.

Wouldn't you know, today was trash pickup day, and that includes picking up newspapers for recycling - newspapers I needed as part of my cleaning up dog urine on the carpet protocol. Oh, well.

The people at Animal Care thought that Brea seemed a little calmer than the last time they saw her.

I'm glad she didn't have to have surgery. Maybe tomorrow we can go on a hike, weather permitting.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Consistency and Routines

Last night and this morning Brea made up for the frustration I felt on Saturday.  Her favorite place is on the rug next to my bed.  Although she still doesn't come downstairs when I call her, she did come downstairs with me without trying to hide or escape three times in a row when I went upstairs to her and said, "Go outside, go potty?"  Each time, she got up and headed down the stairs and sat at the front door while I put her leash on her.  It feels good when that happens, like she's becoming familiar and comfortable with the routine, and more comfortable with me.

Also, three times in a row - and I have mixed feelings about this - she headed left down the street and down Pleasant Road, which is probably one of the steepest, darkest, buggiest streets on this hill.  (Good practice for the Overlook Rock Trail, Mary Thomas!) But it's working for Brea, so I'm not going to argue.  Neighbor cat accompanied us on the last two walks.

I found a website which looks helpful:, created by Debbie Jacobs, and I ordered a copy of her book, "A Guide to Living With & Training A Fearful Dog."

So today feels like one of those days when we've made a tiny little bit of progress.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kanawha State Forest

We went to the forest early this morning and walked for about forty-five minutes.  Brea did pretty well, about like she did on our walk yesterday.  Once she starts sniffing around in the weeds, she seems to forget some of her anxieties and relax a little.  She surprised me when she wanted to walk in the creek.

Some kind of locust tree, I think.

The only really bad time she had kind of surprised me - she was spooked by a trash can.  I don't know why.  I hadn't thrown anything in it or bumped it or come anywhere near it, but she just froze up, and I had a hard time getting her past it.  Most other dogs would be fascinated by the smells of a trash can at a picnic area.

Frustrating Day (Saturday)

That's the best way to describe most of my day with Brea today.  This morning, she wouldn't eat.  She would come into the kitchen and race back out again.  Sometimes she would turn around before coming into the room and run upstairs.  I'm trying to get her into the routine of eating when I feed her; I'm not going to leave a dish of food out for her to snack on at her leisure.  I don't want her avoiding me, eating only when I'm not looking or not in the room.  So I removed her food bowl after about thirty minut es.

This evening was almost a repeat of the morning, except that she finally got close enough to the food to smell the meat drippings I had put on it, from the steak I grilled for myself.  That, and I guess she was getting pretty hungry.

During the day I gave her a couple of Kongs filled with treats.  All of my other dogs have loved them and would spend hours working to get the treats out of them.  Sometimes I would tell Molly to wait in the kitchen while I hid several Kongs around the house.  When I said okay she would race around the house, searching for them, and she would take them all to her favorite place at the top of the stairs before settling down to get the treats out.  When she was finished, she would bring me an empty one and stare at me until I refilled them or she got tired of the game (or had her fill of treats).  Brea pushed them around with her nose a little, then ignored them.  She seemed not to know what to do with them.

On the plus side, we did have a pretty good walk this evening.  We walked down the hill to the bottom of Pleasant Road - her choice - and she spent a lot of time sniffing around in the weeds, acting less fearful and more like a normal dog for a change.  Back at the house, though, she ran back up to her corner in the bedroom, the place where she's farthest away from me.  Occasionally, she'll come around to where I'm sitting at the computer and sniff at my hands or my feet, but if I look at her she takes off.  I don't want her to be afraid of me.

The other frustration of the day was not related to Brea, but I'm going to mention it anyway.  I went downtown to the auction at Pro Art on Summers Street.  There wasn't as much stuff there as I'd expected - it already looked kind of picked over - and I saw only one drawing/drafting table, which was a flimsy looking thing.  There were lots of William Goebel prints, which I don't care for, but none of the painting of the whale eating the P.A. Denny. Wish I could remember who painted it. When I tried to register for the auction, they told me that they only accepted checks, no plastic.  Of course, I didn't have a checkbook with me.  Who carries checks around anymore?

Anyway, it was sad to see the end of a business that had been there for twenty-five years.  The people there were always friendly and helpful.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Baby Pictures

Thanks to Natalie for sharing some of Brea's baby pictures.

Brea's sister, London

Wish I could have seen her then.  Thanks again for the pictures, Natalie.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Some Background

Here's some background information on Brea from Natalie, her previous owner:

Hey.  I was reading your blogs.  They are awesome!  I feel I made the right choice with you being her daddy.  

A little history on her.  Brea was bought from a breeder in Columbus OH and was in a litter of lots of pups and took her home at 8 weeks. Mom and dad were HUGE but she never gained weight and has always been small and girlie.  She is the first puppy that I know could hold her bladder for HOURS.  Thought she had a problem but the doctor said she had the biggest bladder she ever felt before in a pup. She has ALWAYS been skittish around anyone.  She was not around men at all.  She is very smart and you can really see her think.   The scar on her face is from a tumor that started out small when she was a pup and grew as she got older.   We had it removed and it was just a cyst.  Most of her care was done at cross lanes vet if you need any information.  I visited London yesterday and she misses her however I know I you are her daddy now.  Thank you!  

Monday, June 11, 2012

First Checkup

First checkup with the doctor today. Brea is basically healthy, up to date with all her vaccinations, and tested negative for heartworm. The staff at Animal Care Associates all remembered her, and she seemed to remember them, except for the doctor; when Dr. Tackett came into the exam room, Brea hid under the bench where I was sitting.

That led to a discussion of her anxiety problems, and now Brea is going to be taking Prozac, as well as Trifexis for heartworm prevention.

Today started out as one of Brea's better days. She came up to me and let me put on her leash with minimal hesitation, and seemed ready to go into the garage to get into the car, when I accidentally kicked a mousetrap. When the trap clicked shut and flipped into the air, Brea hit the floor like a bomb had gone off. No way she was going to go into the garage after that, so I had to go back into the house and get the keys to the truck, which was parked in front of the house.

Still, she does seem to be getting better, very, very slowly. She doesn't always run out of the room when I look at her or talk to her, and seems to be pacing in and out of rooms a little less.

One interesting thing that came out of today's exam - the doctor pointed out a scar on the right side of Brea's face that I had not noticed. You can see it in the picture, a short vertical line to the left of her mouth. Up close, you can see the marks where there were sutures. Click on the picture for a bigger view. Brea's not talking about it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Clean Plate Club

Brea is getting better about eating all of her food at once, instead of grabbing a mouthful and running out of the room with it.  She has also figured out who fills her food bowl, and is starting to follow me around at mealtimes, going back and forth between her bowl and me, until I put something good in it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Before Brea

Before Brea, there was Molly.  I found Molly in December of 2001, tied up outside a rental house down the street, apparently abandoned.  Another dog walker told me about her, said that there were two dogs, and there didn't appear to be anyone living at the house for at least a week.

I found a puppy and an adult pit bull, both of them very hungry, with no food or water.  I took the puppy home, and brought the big dog some food and water, and called the police.  They tracked down the landlord, and animal control took the big dog.  Molly stayed with  me and my three other dogs.

She was kind of scrawny.

Dec. 10, 2001 - the day Molly came home with me.

Molly stayed with me for eleven years, until her death on March 22 of this year.  We had some good times together.


Going grey - March 14, 2012

Getting Crowded Under There

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fear and Anxiety

Brea had a rough day.  For no apparent reason, she wanted to hide, and whenever I came near her she began shaking all over.  The only time any of my other dogs did that was during a thunderstorm or fireworks.  I didn't know how to help her, and I felt a little guilty for cornering her and putting on her harness and leash and making her go outside, but she's been housebroken so far and I didn't want to lose that.  She had a long night inside by herself while I was at work.

I decided that even if she didn't want to follow me around the house, but preferred to hide and be left alone, she was going to have to at least be downstairs when I was downstairs, and upstairs only when I was upstairs.  I put the baby gate up so that it blocked her from going all the way upstairs.  She's going to have to be where she can see and hear me, even if we aren't interacting any more than that.

I'm trying to establish some routines here, like going outside for short walks and potty breaks, but she wasn't interested, and she couldn't be bribed with dog treats.

Later in the afternoon, at Kroger, I decided to go all out and try something really, really good:

That got her attention, and she went outside without any problem and actually followed me around the house for a little while, eventually lying down at my feet under the computer table.

So who's manipulating who in this scenario?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Escape Artist

Last night I had to go back to work.  I have a dog crate, a cage, but I wanted Brea to be able to move around a bit more without having access to the whole house on her first night alone.  So I put one of those baby gates across the doorway to the kitchen and stepped outside to see what Brea would do.  A few seconds after I closed the front door, she jumped over the gate.

I put her back in the kitchen, replaced the gate, and put one of those curtain tension rods across the doorway, above the gate.  Most of my other dogs respected those as boundaries and would not attempt to go over or under them.  Not Brea.  She jumped over it easily.

I put her back in the kitchen again, and put up two tension rods, creating a higher visual barricade.  She jumped again, knocking out the higher rod.  Clearly, she was not going to stay in the kitchen while I was gone.

I led her to the crate and she went in without a fuss and lay down, looking relaxed.  Apparently, she really is used to being in a crate.

Monday, June 4, 2012

On Wednesday, May 30, I found a voicemail on my phone from Davonda (sp?) at the kennel at Animal Care Associates.  They were boarding a dog there whose owners were splitting up and moving, and the dog needed a new home.  She said I was the first person she thought of calling.

I had Friday off, so I made arrangments to come up and take a look at the dog.  The dog was Brea, a beautiful brown ("champagne") and white pit bull, about a year and a half old.

I got permission to bring her home with me for a few hours on Saturday.  We walked around the park  and hung out at the house.  She explored the house while I took a nap.  The neighbor's cat hissed at her, but she didn't seem bothered.

On Sunday, I spoke on the phone with Natalie, Brea's owner, and told her I was still interested in having Brea come live with me.  She called the kennel and told them I would be coming to get her.  I was there in ten minutes.

We walked a lot Sunday afternoon and evening.  You can tell that Brea has spent a lot of time in a kennel or in a crate, because she can hold her bladder and bowels longer than any dog I've ever seen.  Maybe she was just being bashful, not wanting to go in front of me.  Sorry, Brea.

Brea is very timid, and easily startled.  I don't know a lot about her previous life, except that she lived with other more dominant dogs.  Natalie also told me that she didn't think that Brea had been around men before.  So we have a lot to do, getting to know each other.