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Current blog look inspired by and dedicated to Chance, Blaze, Fiona and Zappa who all kicked ass against cancer and liver disease.

Brut Quote

Brut Quote

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Memories-Snap! Silver the Photographer

Monday Memories-our little trip down memory lane.

  Whenever my husband's mom used to change a baby's diaper, she would baby talk, "Are you taking my picture?"
So since Silver sleeps on her back most of the time, my husband thinks she is taking everyone's picture. 

Silver snapping away at 7 weeks old

Lots of shots of the kids while she was nursing

Warming up the camera.

Smile!  You're on Silver Camera!!

Has anyone else heard of this phrase before?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Personal - Brut's Aggression Week

 I laid next to Brut with my head against his fur.  Just touching each other.  Not to be held or cuddled, just to be there.  I felt horrible.  I felt ashamed.  Brut understood.  More than any other dog in our packs, he knew better than anyone why I'd come to him.  
 I had lashed out at my husband.  It had nothing to do with him, but the pain of a situation I had no control over got to me and I threw my fear and frustration all over my him.  
 Brut and I stayed that way for some time.  I didn't have to utter a word as I drew from his forgiving strength.

One of the hardest things about Brut's aggression isn't the action itself, it is accepting him as he is.  While there is nothing more difficult than the fear of witnessing his assault on one of the other dogs, it doesn't compare to acknowledging, this is my dog.  More than once, Brut came to me afterwards with remorse.  Almost as if he couldn't understand why he reacted the way he did and would look to me for understanding.

 And as I laid there with Brut, in the comfort of his presence that was unshaken by my human flaws, I understood more and more why he had come into my life.  With the roles reversed, this beautiful, temperamental dog keeps teaching me the gift of accepting and understanding myself as well as each other.



Friday, April 27, 2012

Brut's Food Aggression

Yep!  I'm all attitude!
 Brut’s food protectiveness started before he came home with us.  The breeder told me that when he was weaning the puppies, they would all start growling and snarling when the food would get low. 

I didn’t know this in the beginning.

Brut's food aggression was the first sign we had of any aggression.  Never experiencing an aggressive dog before, I had no idea what it was, especially coming from a puppy.  I just thought he was being dominant.  The first thing we did was stop the free food buffet and began feeding on a schedule.  Then I separated Brut from the other dogs when he ate and I would pick up his food after 10 minutes finished or not.  (dominance theory)  This is what I had read to do.  .

Now since this aggressiveness was quite new to me, I had to swallow my fear,  walk in the room calm and collective while Brut hung his head low to his bowl and take his food away.  The instant I grabbed it, his entire demeanor would change back to that of a happy puppy.

I continued this scenario for some time, though, I quit timing him.  He still guarded his food if he hadn't finsihed and I still took it, but some of the edge was taken off.

Happy Feeding Frenzy
 When our litter of puppies were four weeks old, we slowly began the weaning process and something inside of me began to click.  I began to understand something I still can’t put into words.  I began to understand why Brut was the way he was.  TEN puppies all eating from one baking tray without a growl, snarl, snap, or bite.  There was no pushing, shoving, or fighting.  TEN puppies all happily eating off of one tray, getting their fill, and walking away in peace and contentment.  I had witnessing the exact opposite of what Brut experienced and the wheels in my head and heart were clicking as things began to make sense.  It was the nature of his survival. 

My rigid dominant approach is gone.  Brut is still separated, but when I walk in, if he isn’t finished, I ask him if he is done.  He will let me know if he is still hungry.  Sometimes he just wants company and I will sit and while he finishes his food.  One of the viable undercurrents of our relationship is respect.  I don’t like anyone touching my food and Brut has already proven to me that it is the same for him.  Why would I become his biggest threat to what he values most when I already know this is his nature.  So I began to work with it.  It took some time and rebuilding of trust but food time is much more relaxed now.  Brut doesn’t guard his food anymore when I walk in and he will signal when he is done, even if there is food left in the bowl he will walk away without any reservations..  And it works for us.

Somewhere while watching our litter of puppies all joyously eating without a squabble, I grieved for Brut with a new understanding.  It was more than just an explanation, it was an insight into the essence of his being. One I have learned not to control or change, but harness and work with.  I relate so much of myself to my dogs, and since I wouldn’t tolerate someone walking in on me and snatching up my food, how could I expect my dog to?  I prefer to practice the harmony of a resolution that involves both parties working for the same goal.  Does it cure Brut of protecting his food?  No, but I can create an atmosphere where it isn’t necessary and to me that means a whole lot more.        

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brut's Aggression

I find it really difficult to narrow down five years of witnessing Brut's aggression without bringing in so many contributing factors, but I am going to try to break it down to the two that I believe are the most important and that I have witnessed repeatly:  the natural act of protection and an over-exaggerated hierarchy correction.    And while I am not a dog trainer, behaviorist, or expert on any kind on aggression, this is what I have observed in my own home with my aggressive dog Brut.

I talked about Brut's upbringing in the last post that created a prime example of Brut's need to protect himself and his valuables.  The most important of these has been himself and because of that Brut has built this circumference around himself that expands and contracts.  Sometimes slowly and other times, depending on the circumstances rather quickly.  This firewall around Brut is his own personal boundary line and any one crossing without permission or heeding that first or second warning will find themselves being corrected by Brut.

 A very rare moment of Zappa (l) and Brut (r) 
No one knows this better than Brut's son Zappa.  Zappa likes to test and push that boundary by challenging back, because Zappa almost always refuses to back down to Brut.  From about the time that Zappa was four months old, Brut and Zappa had these challenges almost regularly for the first year or so.  Most confrontations were quite minor and didn't always lead to a fight, but others were more intense and there was physical contact.

An example is when they are chasing squirrels.  Brut and Zappa have a little hunting festival around the wood shed at the sight of a squirrel.  As you can imagine the adrenaline can get quite high and intense.  At first Zappa will keep a safe distance and will stay out of Brut’s way while they circle and search.  As they come up empty-handed but haven’t given up the quest, Zappa merges closer as Brut begins to let his guard down. Zappa takes advantage of getting closer to top dog position and possibility of catching said prey.  If there is so much an inkling of the squirrel Brut will realize just how close Zappa is, which makes him a sudden threat to his claimed catch.  With half a heartbeat Brut gives a warning to Zappa.  Zappa ignores it because he's too caught up in the game, or more likely isn't to back down and lose the ground that he has gained being "equal" to his father.  Since Zappa doesn't back down to the warning, Brut’s radius flares out catching Zappa in it and Brut uses a more direct approach to get his message across.  And what may seem like an attack out of nowhere for no reason, was Zappa not giving into his dad’s orders and Brut correcting him. 

I have witnessed several version of this same scenario outside as well as smaller versions inside, although not every confrontation leads to a fight.  Depending on the severity of the line that is crossed or how valuable the possession is, the correction can be over in a couple of seconds or can be more severe lasting half a minute or more.  These are the fights that trigger off the deep seeded fear in Brut that a dog is trying to take something of precious value to him.  These are the ones that stem from those fears of abandonment and the fight for himself of never losing again what he lost.  And while these fights are more serious and take me to pull them apart, none of the dogs have had more than a bloody scratch at most, when you’d think they’d be more.  Amazing, isn’t it?

 Make one false move, cat...

For a long time I thought Brut was the cause of every fight, when really it is a two way street.  Ignoring a signal from Brut is probably far worse than actually answering it, but no response is still a response.  And more time than not it is the unheard answer that explodes into the deeper fear and pain of his puppy hood that I have watched Brut displayed so many times.  These are not the teeth of a killer, but a dog who suffered severe emotional pain and trauma and is just trying to hold onto what is his.

And really can you blame him?       

And one last personal note.  Have you ever witnessed or have had happen to you that a dog comes over and just seems to attack another/your dog for what looks like no reason?  I wonder if actions like this could be part of my hierarchy correction idea.  Like when a dog isn't even looking at the aggressive dog and it is still attacked.  Because I do believe any dog with aggression towards other dogs believes himself to be the alpha dog at every moment and expects an appropriate response to his actions and if that response doesn't suit him, he will attack to correct.  I wonder if any of you have experienced this and would agree or not.

Next post I'll delve into the Brut's touchy food aggression.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Memories-The Brut Beginning

Monday Memories-our little trip down memory lane.
This week I'm going to share some of my experiences about Brut and what is considered his aggression.
Today we are starting at the beginning and what happened from the moment we picked Brut out at 4 weeks old.  This is how Brut's life started.

 Has anyone seen my mommy?

To understand Brut, you have to go back to the beginning.  At four weeks old Brut and his siblings were taken from their mother and brought in to live with aggressive adult dogs in an environment that generate a constant state of survival.  This was how he learned his social skills and the discipline that was suppose to taught by his mother as he learned how to be a dog.  Instead of playing with his brothers and sisters to learn the ropes of what was acceptable dog behaviors between dogs, Brut was warding them off in protection for his food, toys and life.  Instead of a nurturing, loving environment where he was free to express and be properly corrected, Brut lived with the hostile mentality of 'every dog for themselves.'  At a time in his life when Brut should have been able to explore in innocence, he lived in the utmost fear and instinctively imitated what he saw from the other dogs in order to get through the day. At an age when he wasn't emotionally, nor mentally ready to cope.  All the while dealing with the abandonment from his mother who wasn't there to protect him and he had to learn far too early to do so himself.

 Ready to defend!!

When our litter reached that glorious four week old mark, I remembering looking at 10 bundles of innocence, full of trusting dependence on their mother and us and everything just clicked.  I finally had a grasp on why Brut was the way he was as all of the pieces of the puzzle came together. His physical size, how young he really was at that time, and his mental and emotional development stunted in fear. That was the age Brut was stripped of everything safe that he knew in his life, including his birth place.  And all of that fear was internalized into the external version of aggression.  He was taught that every dog is a threat because they wanted to take something from him, hence the fierce possessiveness of a puppy who had to fight for everything he had.  

We witnessed first hand the environment that Brut grew up in on more than one occasion.  I lived with the damage that was done on such a impressionable mind from the time we brought him home.  I saw the vast difference when our ten puppies reached that prime age of four weeks old and I have broke into many tears over that frightened little boy who fended for his life with the only tools he had just to be here.

That boy is one tough cookie!
 I finally made it.  HOME.
*4-12 weeks old in a puppies life are when the crucial bonding and social skills are built.  It is when a dog learns how to be dog.*

I hope you will join me for my next post where I will share my personal experience and observations about Brut and what is called his dog aggression.   

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blaze and the cats...Part Duex

I've been working with Blaze and her high Husky prey drive with the cats.  For safety reasons, Blaze is separated from the cats.  I've tried several different things and the one I had the most success with is in this post.  I hooked a leash to the wall, hooked Blaze to the leash, had lots of treats and a cat who stood at the doorway, but never crossed into her territory.  I have done this a couple more times since that post.  The last time I did it, I wore Blaze out with mental games and she actually laid down and looked at me, without paying any attention to the cat.  That was HUGE progress!!

Then a few weeks ago, I had this spur of the moment idea...

I needed to clean my disastrous computer desk.  Computer is in the cat's room.  (yes, for all you doggies I read all your post with the cats!)  I had the radio on in Chance and Blaze's room.  Both were sleeping.  I didn't want to close the door or I wouldn't be able to hear the music, so I thought, I'll leave it open and see how things play out.

It's open!

Chance paid no attention, he rarely does, But Blaze slowly woke up and stayed rather quiet, just watching as Boxer walked around his room and crossing in front of the doorway every so often.  The computer/cat's room is about the size of an over sized closet and easy to keep watch on my rolling desk chair.

Was that a feline?
Blaze watched for some time, we're talking a good 10-15 minutes, before she started creeping closer towards the door.   That alone was impressive.  She was relaxed with a playful demeanor, instead of her wild eyed "I want to taste you" look, when she stood at the doorway.  When her and Boxer finally met face to face I was right there as she went to pounce and I caught her in my arms, held her very gently and let her sit with lots of eye contact.  She was so excited and happy at being so close!  I can tell after 4 years her curiosity is starting to get the best of her.  Although any direct contact would've have sent her into prey drive mode.  So this was exciting!  I can't remember how long Boxer stayed in his room after that, but it was long enough that we practiced not letting one paw cross the cat's threshold.  It didn't take long after that to see the her body buzzing into overdrive as the adrenaline reached her eyes to know it was time to close the door.

You said "No Paws!"
I was so excited it didn't take much to share it with Blaze as I smothered her with kisses and treats and told her how fantastic she had done.  It wasn't long before she was jumping at the cat's door with the same bound excitement that said, "Let's do it again.  Right now!!"  She was so great and I couldn't be more proud of her.  I didn't try again for a while as her interest in the cats peaked since trying and I was letting that thrill wane down a bit before trying again.

Then I tried again last night.  Same scenerio:  Blaze sleeping, leave door open, she slowly creeps towards the door.  For a while their were no cats, then my little Siamese, Princess Leia popped in and curious Blaze just observed without once crossing the door frame.  Just as I saw the little sparks start jumping in her eyes, I walked out, closing the door behind and praised her like crazy.  She was so calm and controlled.  It was simply awesome!!  It is so humbling to be part of this trusting foursome between Blaze, the two cats and myself in this little dance and simply more awesome than I can put into words.  Time is a wonderful thing.
Look at me!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When the universe seems out of sync,

full of heartache and pain, what is the one thing you do with your dog that helps everything fall into place?
Now what did you call this again?
My tears had finally caught up with me upon learning the news of Toby's passing at The (mis)Adventures of Sage while I tried to eat a bagel.  I felt a the presence of a muzzle next to me and turned to a drooling Chance at my side.  My tears fell harder as I shared my bagel with him until I was half smiling through them.  If there is anything that could tell me that the universe was OK, it was sharing food with Chance.

Having the luxury of the kitchen as his domain, he follows me every where I go in the kitchen, sits at the table when eating, hangs out by the stove when cooking, accompanies me to the fridge and is my side man when prepping at the counter.  Mealtimes are our favorite times.  There isn't nothing he won't try and I've come to love spending my meals with him.

Is it almost ready, Mom??  Can't wait!!

If there is one thing that gives me comfort, to know that everything is alright, it is sharing a meal with Chance.

What is that special time for you and your dog?

This post is dedicated and inspired by another soul who was lost from this Earth but is watching over his family with love.  Toby's passing reminded me of the little things that we do with our dogs each day that aren't so little and mean the most to us and to treasure every moment of our time here.  Our hearts and paws are with Sage and her family during their time of loss. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Memories-What Was Your First Pet?

Monday Memories-our little trip down memory lane

 This post is in special thanks to this little Red Squirrel, who wished to remain anonymous who reminded me that I have loved a few rodents in my day.

See, I don't care for rodents.  Of any sort.  They may look cute and fuzzy but to me they are a nuisance and who's only good is being prey for the dogs to chase and occasionally catch.  So yesterday while I was in one of my funky morning moods staring into nothing land I see this Red Squirrel racing through the pines, across the fence and up and down the post at lightning speed.  He caught my attention.  Now I can appreciate the agility and speed of squirrels, as they are the true acrobats of the trees in these parts and as I watched him race and jump with such fine balance, I became pretty awed.

 He sat up on the post flipping his tail at me as he wanted to know why I didn't like his kind.  Staring me down through the pane window and as I stared back, I told him, the disease you carry, the destruction, and that constant gnawing that never ends.  He turned tail and flew down the fence for more goodies.  After a few minutes he flew back up and sat at the top of the fence post to confront me.  Eye to eye he said with so many words, "Have you forgotten so soon?"  "What is THAT suppose to mean?" I quipped back.  "You once loved rodents too."  OMG!  My first pet!!.  I giggled as he wiggled his butt down to the stash of seeds in the grass.

My fifth birthday I received my very own guinea pig.  To this day I can not tell you his name.  No idea if it was a girl of boy, except that he was mine.  And although not the most active pet I'd ever owned.  He was mine to love and care for.  He was a long haired breed and I would comb him every night.  Clean his cage once a week and gave him carrots and lettuce as a treat.  He was the start of several pairs of hamster that would follow after his death.

Mr. Squirrel flew back to the top of his perch feverishly munching on his seeds that he held with both hands.  I giggled again with a smile as I remembered so vividly loving that part of my little rodents pets.  Standing on their hind legs with their little jaws nibbling at top notch speed while they stuffed the pocket inside their cheeks until they were full.  I remember how cute and exciting it was to witness this storage habit as they "hid" seeds for winter in the corner of their cages.  I didn't know what they were doing at the time, but I just loved watching them do it.  I also discovered they were smarter than one might think.  We were always trying to escape proof the cage and we weren't always so successful.  I remember coming home from a week vacation and having to search the house, only to find one of my hamsters in the couch but still alive and well even with two dogs in the house!

I smiled a thank you to Mr. Squirrel before he scurried away while he reminded me that he had a purpose too and it wasn't just to be bait for the dogs.  BOL!  Because of him I was able to reminisce about the my first pets that were all my own at such a young age and how and why I loved them.  Even they were rodents.   :)

So what was your first pet?  

Saturday, April 14, 2012


A dog doesn't have to be beaten, kicked, starved or set on fire, to not be loved.  How many of us have seen an a dog with their owner and just know that they are not loved.  The may be fed or walked or cared for but the dog is the only one giving the love that isn't being received.  The dog is just some status symbol or obligation to have.  Do you ever wonder about those dogs?

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Two Amigos

Zappa and Fiona at 4 months old

Some extra quality time with Zappa and Fiona is always a treat.  Everything about them is extra special.  Zappa and Fiona are the two puppies we kept from the litter and have been here since day one.  They are the two 'good' kids.  They are great walkers, calm and quiet in the car,and they will tolerate other dogs.  They are well mannered, calm and secure.  They are a perfect example of Brut and Silver’s best qualities. They are both a little smarter and a little wiser than the generation before.  Not that they don’t each have their own set of quirks and behavior issues, but on an overall basis, they are the dogs with the even temperament and disposition. 

When I set aside that special time for them, I am always so amazed.  They have taken everything that shines in their father and mother and created it to be theirs, in their own way, with their own personalities.  The biggest difference about Zappa and Fiona is something I’ve never witnessed in any dog I have ever met, being loved and kept from the time of conception and birth.  There is an inner calmness and security that centers from within them.  It is like nothing I have ever seen before.  There entire lives were based on love.  A love that is more than just absence from abuse and/or neglect, but a wholeness and oneness of themselves that radiates from their being.  I dare say it is phenomenal.  And that I really can’t explain it.  In a world of pain, hurt, and suffering of so many humans and animals, Zappa and Fiona show you that there is such a thing as true love.  Almost like touching heaven. 

When I had to devote most of my time to Chance and Blaze’s return (two pups from our own litter who were abused and brought back) they quietly waited for me.  In the throws of my own healing they helped me understand the love that existed in them and selflessly gave of it.  And while we only had moments were short, their true love glowed through all of it. 

I used to have such a hard time with the amount of contentment Zappa and Fiona had compared to the gratitude and energy Chance and Blaze had, slowly I am beginning to understand.  The amount of love they have always been given is greater than what all of the dogs and my husband and I have ever had all put together.  I know it is something I can not begin to fathom,  having a full lifetime of love.  It is almost unbelievable.  And  yet I am able to look into Zappa and Fiona's eyes everyday for the proof that such a love exist.


I think we did the right thing.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Born to Be

Mel over at No Dog About It Blog sparked this post with her post:  What do you find most beautiful in a dog?  Answering her own question with that she loves to watch dogs do what they were meant to do.    Having a family of almost Huskies lead me to answer her question with the natural ability our dogs have when they are doing what they were born to do, dog sled.

Which got my wheels turning about what exactly that means.

Brut's side of the family comes from racing lines.  That is all the info I have.  Before I even knew that much, the first time I saw Brut pull a sled, I knew instantly that something was different.  There was something more sophisticated in what I was witnessing, even though I didn't know what it was.  I 'd never seen a sled dog in action, but there was more to Brut than just a dog running with a sled behind him.

The lines in his body, his build, the structure of his bones and muscles were held in perfect alignment for his task, as if Brut and the sled were one unit.  It was if they were made for each other, like a key to lock.  Brut was the part that was missing from the sled and it's function.

As I dug further into this thought, my brain began exploding with light bulbs.  Their body, mind and spirit are specifically designed and tailored for sledding.  It isn't just the muscle or speed they can exert, it is a total engagement of their being.  They have been bred for thousands of years to be a well oiled and finely crafted machine with a heart and soul to match.

And Brut is only half Husky.  His children are three-quarter.  More specifically Blaze.

 When Blaze runs she looks like she is flying.  She becomes very streamline, yet with such strength, power and grace it will take your breath away.  Her design is expertly tailored for lightning speed, quick thinking and agile reflexes that are demanded of the position of a fantastic lead sled dog.  She just soars even when carrying more than twice her own weight with flawless effort.  It is exquisite just to part of such majesty.

The thought that struck me most flipping through my memory files is how it is the entirety of the whole dog that is encompassed in the breed.  Bloodhounds, don't just use their extreme scent glands to track, their entire body, mind and spirit is engaged during the process.  It is the same logic that I struggle so hard with the dogs not pulling on a walk, they were born to pull.  They are designed by all fathoms of their nature to pull.  And since I never taught them any different, they continue to be who they are.  Pull Dogs.  Simple.  I am fighting up against years and years of selective breeding and it never really occurred to me that this isn't just their bodies I'm wrestling with, but the entire nature of who they are.  Any other way is against the grain.

It certainly gives me a greater appreciation for purebred dogs.

Blaze is by far our most Husky-like dog, with Zappa and Brut following close behind.  And there has always been something about them when they are pulling that I could never put my finger on that just stood out so differently.  They were just being who they were born to be.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Krazy kitty vs. Silly dogs

In the war of cats vs. dogs, it is all about strategy, planning, and a dumb move made by the cat.  Little did Princess Leia know what she thought was a covert move dashing under the bed, became an opportunity for Fiona and Brut to practice their plot to dominate the world.  

And for all of you cat lovers out there, just look away.  

(editor's note:  no animals were harmed in making of this film,  just for some hurt pride:)
You'd think cornering the cat happens all the time around here, but surprisingly it is quite rare, which is why I couldn't resist to tape it.  :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Memories-Alex sitting on the dock of the bay

Monday Memories-our little trip down memory lane.

When Alex died, for some reason Otis Redding's, "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" started playing through my head and it became his song.

There's no significance or tie to Alex and the song, not even in hindsight, just that it was suddenly playing inside my heart when I lost him.

I had a few different ideas I planned to choose from to write for Monday Memories, when Otis started grooving again inside of me and all I could think of was Alex.

 Sing it Alex!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Draft Week-How do you talk to your dogs?

This week I'm posting some of my "drafted" post.  This post, written last summer got lost somewhere down the line, but still holds true to this day.  

I am rather quiet, shy, introvert.  I don't like crowds or being at large gathers and most of the time I prefer to stay in as I dislike shopping and I am nervous in restaurants. I am not a good communicator, I prefer to write than talk.  I have lived most of my life in silence which brought me to an understating of dogs at a different level than most at a very young age.  When I am out with my dogs, I tend to stick to places where we are primarily alone.  This private time is sacred to me.  While I love witnessing and experiencing the packs in their entirety, there is something precious about communing in the solitude with a beloved dog and soaking in the calm that surrounds.  Most of my communication with my dogs is through body language where I find myself most in tune with them and I use hand gestures and eye contact to convey what feel.  I do talk to the dogs, but we rarely have long, vocal conversations.    

There are times I have found myself feeling a little guilty not talking to dogs more, but when my husband is home he makes up for the silence in the house and then some.  He is a pretty gabby guy and carries on with the dogs like they are long, lost friends after a long day at work.  When he takes one or two for a car ride he engages them in lengthy conversations, mingle with cute talk.  He sings to them all of the time, making up songs about them and every night he sings "Rock-A-Bye-Baby" to each and every one.  He can not talk to them enough.

So which are you the silent communicator or the jabber jaw when it comes to talking with your dog?      

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Draft Week-Betrayal

I wanted to share a quick update about yesterday's post:  Chance's Slow Ride and to let you know that after I tried that experiment, Chance now rides much better in the van.  He was calmer and more secure.  All the dogs are a little leery about the truck, but just helping him through his fears a little made quite a difference riding in the van.  :)     


This week I'm posting some of my "drafted" post that I was either to scared to post or too emotionally close to at the time.  This post has been a constant theme between Brut and I even though it was originally written the first of Dec. 2011.

This is a call out to all of those that have reactive, aggressive, or dogs with serious behavior issues.  I am weary.  I feel like I just don't have it anymore.  The last 6-8 months with Brut being in a "remission" of sorts has felt like it has lead me down a road of false illusion.  And that all of that progress has been wiped clean.  Right about the time I feel that deep radiating love for him and that I am suddenly aware of what a fantastic and fascinating dog he is, I feel the knife drive into my back.  Again.  I come from an abusive childhood, I understand the cycle of healing.  I know how I have lashed out for reason unknown to me and taken my pain and anger out on those I love.  There is something not right.

I feel like I don't have the strength to go through this wave again.  And it is the worst time to lose a sense of hope.  I need to be strong and firm and I just don't want to go through this all over again.  My fear that was reconciled has sprung again.  I want to react rather than assert.  Brut triggering off, triggers me.  Our issues are so closely related, I don't know how to stop the chain reaction.  And I am too tired to do so.  Can anyone relate?  Can anyone be as tired as I am at doing this over and over with such a special needs dog?  Does anyone have the desire to hand their dog over to someone else for a while and let them take care of them?  Or better yet "fix" them?  The words of that trainer ring in my head at these down times like this, "I don't know what I am getting into."  There is a lot of truth to that.  And the extreme highs and lows don't help matters.  To be going along and witness and be apart of the progress only to watch it all explode in my face.  So many pieces I feel like I can't pick up.  And I wonder how long I will have to do this.  And how many times.  I can't bring myself to even begin again.  It hurts too much.  It feels like a betrayal.

 Letting my little white flag fly in the wind.

I wrote this about the time I asked help from fellow bloggers that I couldn't be more grateful for.  I'd run out of ideas, I felt like I had no where to turn when I finally just laid all my cards on the table.  From there sparked ideas and creativity that when I read this again I realize how painful this journey has been with Brut and how far we have really come.  While I still have moments when I feel like this, they are further apart then what they used to be.  My cry for help also helped me learn to assist my husband when Brut's temper would flare because it made me realize my husband couldn't do it alone.   Brut doesn't listen to him and I have been learning to back up everything my husband was telling Brut in order to reinforce what was being asked.  It has made a world of difference for all of us.  So while these words are in a continuous cycle as they once were, they still ring true every so often when it all gets the best of us.            

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Draft Week-Chance's Slow Ride

This week I'm posting some of my "drafted" post that I was either to scared to post or too emotionally close to at the time.  This post happened a couple months back.  The results blew me out of the water and I always wanted to try it again, but haven't yet.  Let me know what you think.  :)

The two most significant car rides Chance has taken (that I know of) was when he left our home at 9 weeks old and when his owners called for us to pick him up at almost a year old.  I don't think he had very much car experience with his previous owners and his anxiety is always high.   I've been wanting to try some good association with the vehicles and make it a better experience for him. All I was going to do was put him in the truck, let him calm down and take him back out.  I went with the flow of the moment and the results were utterly fascinating.

I grab some treats, his favorite comfort toy, and act like we were going for a ride.  Chance hops in the truck no problem.  We sit for about 10 minutes while he settles down.  He is alert, but relaxed and probably a bit confused.

I debate for a few minutes whether to go any further.  I put the key in.  No reaction.  So I start truck and leave it running.

Chance's anxiety starts to spike.  He sits taller and his breathing quickens.  He goes straight for his safety net, the window, except that it is closed and he begins turning in circles.  For the most part I let him work things out since I know we will not be moving and he doesn't seem to want my help.  Since we are taking this in slow motion and there hasn't been a the rapid build up, his anxiety is quite mild.  I give him a couple of treats when he seems to be settling down.

The boy is fogging up the windows, so I turn on the defroster.  No reaction.

For the next 10 minutes, I witness Chance settle rather comfortably into himself and he is solid.  He is looking around, studying, observing and doing great!  I am so proud of him.

I teeter whether to go further.  Finally, with direct but slow motions, I put on my seat belt, step on the brake, and put my hand on the gear shift.  No direct reactions from Chance, but I can tell he is very aware.

As soon as the truck is in gear, he is in a mild panic.  His body is taunt, ears slightly back, he is sitting, but he crouches low as if on guard.  He continually turns his head and darts his eyes back and forth as if waiting for the devil himself to pop out.

The truck is in gear for 15 seconds top.  Chance is gone.  Whatever this fear means to him, he is in it.  I turn off truck. 

We sit in silence while I observed him gain his surroundings and ground himself.  I sense he doesn't want to be touched or comforted and when I gently call his name, he isn't able to give me any eye contact.  Wherever he is at, I know he is still with me and I can tell he feels safe.  He acts like he wants to work this out for himself.  It takes about 20 minutes for him to be almost back in his skin again.

As we got out of the truck to take a walk (his reward) we found ourselves a bit disoriented and out of sorts that I cut it rather short.  When I went back to grab my purse out of the truck, Chance jumped right in when I opened the door, which I thought was a great sign.  We stay in the cab for a few minutes with his head in my lap and just held each other.  Then we got out and joined Blaze for a good romp outside.

Our entire "outing" was about 45 minutes long.  Slowing the process down gave him time to process what was happening while letting me gauge his reaction more precisely.  I was able to understand the intensity of each action and how they built up so rapidly.

About 15 minutes after the panic started and I was following Chance's eyes, something clicked inside me.  I found myself speaking out loud, about knowing how scary it is out there in the world and what it was like to never have a loving home and when you finally find one, you never want to leave it.  Ever.

I heard Chance's head gently drop with relief on the back of seat the minute I started speaking, as if I'd finally got what he was trying to tell me.  He knew all too well about never wanting to leave home. And without a doubt, no matter how crazy he can be in the car, he always curls up and lays in peace when we are heading home.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Memories-A memory about a memory

Monday Memories-our weekly trip down memory lane.
Geesh!!  The little piggies won't even let me lay down!!
My husband and I watched this awesome video this past month of Silver feeding the puppies who were about 4 weeks old at the time.  We wanted to share it with all of you, but we were unable to copy it as our DVR is broken and all of our puppy footage is on analog.

My husband went movie crazy with the puppies, mostly for the fact he wasn't able to be around much due to the double time at work that suddenly happened not 24 hours after the little guys were born.  So he was quite a insane about getting everything on tape.  He used to drive me crazy.

Four years later as we are watching this video segment, I feel like I'm seeing it for the first time, through my husband eyes, who is also seeing it for the first time.  It was one of many feeding sessions, Silver walks in the whelping box and the puppies bombard her. She does everything to dodge them and avoid stepping on them.  She is standing and they are on their back legs standing up all fighting over those precious teats.  Somehow some way Silver slips in a quick move and quickly lies down, the puppies attack her in a crazy fury.  Fussy, yipping, and in a constant chaos as everyone fights to grab on for that furious suckling time.

1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4  All there!
Watching every move of this feeding frenzy after Silver is down,  I step in the box to count the pups to make sure she isn't lying on any of them..  1-2-3 (Husky-looking pups), 1-2-3 (black and white pups), 1-2-3-4 (white pups).  Every time Silver was in the box, I was counting.  Every time the pups left, were in another room, outside, I was counting.  I never left their sides, except for my own necessities and always made sure they were all there.  I never thought once about it or that I was doing anything special, it was just part of taking care of our grandkids.

As we watched the video, my husband had this loving smile on his face and said, "and there's you, right in the middle of it.  You just got right inside Silver and her puppies from day one and became part of them."  As I sat there mesmerized by 10 little tails on the screen all wiggling at attention as their bellies were being filled and watched what became a pivotal point in our lives, his words struck me, and I smiled back and said, "I did, didn't I?"  I begun to realize how completely enmeshed I was in this world of our litter of pups that we refer to the "Power of Ten."  I told my husband as we continued to be swept away by this feeding video, "This is only an example of ONE aspect of the puppies that was a continuous cycle flowing through our home for almost twelve weeks."  And I remember being so stunned as I relived just a piece of that time period.  The sounds, the smells and the touch that reverberated through our home of love as we live and breathed these new lives that surrounded us.  During that time period I was so wrapped up in it, I barely had a moment to realize the miracle that had taken over our home, until my husband's words attacked my heart and soul with such a fierceness as we watched with new eyes and the swelling blessings of the never ending miracle of ten puppies.

             The Amazing "Power of Ten"
(p.s. hopefully before long we will be able to transfer tape to computer.  Stay tuned!)
We'd like to send out a special crossed 24 Paws of Love for Houndgirl.  Our hearts are with you.