Saturday, January 30, 2010

Oh Happy Day

This weekend we are back at the lake, which I guess is the same as most weekends. The difference this time is that on Friday night Don and I had to go to the funeral of our dear friend Priscilla. Priscilla had battled ovarian cancer for years, and that in and of itself is a miracle. She is a woman who touched my life with the spirit that she had within her. I only knew her for a short time, and we didn't even spend that much time together, but there was just something amazing about her, and she will never be forgotten.

While we were at the funeral, Brutus had to be in his crate.....for five hours. Oh my gosh, was he sad when we got home. He walked around with his head hanging down, and made sure that we knew that we had hurt his feelings something fierce. Thankfully, after some good snuggling and a few smooches, we were back in his good graces. I'll be glad when and if the day comes that we can just trust him to not eat the house while we are gone. That would be lovely for all involved!

As for the "Oh Happy Day", today Brutus got to go to an ice fishing contest with Don. Actually, they are still there, so I can only assume that they are having a blast. I took a couple pictures before they left. One is just Brutus jumping with joy, and the other is Don all tangled up in the "umbilical" leash. It's a thirty foot leash that Don uses so Brutus can run around and play, but Don can call him to come back. We're hoping that it will help in teaching Brutus his boundaries.

Everyone hug the ones you love. Life is short, and we have to cherish the moments that make us who we are. When I look at Brutus jumping up in the air with excitement just because dad is taking him out for a big walk on his leash, it makes my heart melt with joy that a dog who was so close to death now has the ability to feel happiness.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Last night Princess and Brutus were on the bed together. Princess's normal sleeping spot is between Don's pillow and my pillow, and she hadn't been there for two weeks and I think that she had had it! So, she finally got brave and reclaimed her spot. Brutus was absolutely beside himself. At first he just stood by the bed and kind of fussed. Then he found things to chew on that he knew he shouldn't. Like a toddler, he was trying to get bad attention, which would be better than none!! Finally, he gave up and joined us on the bed. Princess crawled on my chest, and I thought he was going to have a meltdown again, but he lived, and they both sat together for a good hour. I had to take a picture so Ashley can see that her Princess girl is doing OK. Cohabitation with the cats and dog might work out after all. Whew!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Cat Teaching The Dog New Tricks

The funniest thing happened yesterday. I was in the living room with Brutus to go over some of the things that we are trying to teach him from his doggy classes. Basic commands like sit and stay, lay down, watch me, etc. I had his favorite peanut butter dog cookies in my hand, so he was raring to go. We started out with a couple rounds of sit and went directly to lay down.

Sophie, our youngest cat, has been really interested in Brutus the last couple days, and kind of shadowing him. Shortly after we started practicing the commands, she walked over and sat down right behind me. This was bugging Brutus a little, but we kept going. Pretty soon, every time I would say something to Brutus, Sophie would meow at him. Now she was bugging him, and the look on his face was so funny. It was a perfect "what the hell?". I gave him the lay down command, and Sophie laid down right next to him like she wanted a belly rub. At that point I had the giggles and gave up. Brutus got the rest of the peanut butter treats, and both the cat and dog got belly rubs. Too funny.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dogs Should Come With a Weather Disclaimer

We don't have a fenced in yard, which in and of itself isn't that big of a deal. Don and I both like to walk, and someday we hope to be able to let Brutus go off leash, but since we have had him, there have been very few "beautiful" days. Today would be one of those not so beautiful days. Four degrees to be exact. Did it bother Brutus?? NO!! Did it bother me?? YES!! As soon as I get out of bed and am done with breakfast, he stands by the door and waits. He has the routine down. Oh well, I was sweating by the time we got back.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Very Very Sad Puppy and a Dog

Don left the lake yesterday, leaving Brutus and I behind. I had my own car there, and I wanted to get some extra cleaning done that I hadn't gotten to. I have never seen Brutus look so sad in my life. When Don pulled out of the driveway, Brutus needed to get out on his leash, so I let him out. He just sat on the front step and looked out at the road for about fifteen minutes.

When he came in, he went down to Ashley's bedroom and grabbed this stuffed puppy that I probably should have taken away from him, but I just didn't have the heart. He doesn't really chew things anymore, and it was a toy that Ashley had told me to put in a garage sale, so I thought "what the heck". Well, I'm thinking that it was his fill in for Dad. The poor boy walked around with the stuffed puppy in his mouth for the rest of the day and night, slept with it, went potty with it, and rode home in the car today with it tucked under his chin. The puppy is in very bad shape. It went from being adorable, to missing both of it's eyes and more than a little of it's stuffing!

I have to say that it was a little embarrassing when I stopped at the rest stop to let Brutus go potty, and he needed to take the puppy with him. There was a man who was staring at us, and I just had to look at him and throw my hands up in the air.

Now that we're home, the puppy is still hanging out with us, but he's definitely more interested in his Dad. Very cool.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Snowstorm and a Playdate

What a fun morning. We were supposed to have a yucky weekend of freezing rain, but we woke up this morning to a beautiful fresh new snowfall. Long before I had even gotten out of bed, Don had let Brutus out to go potty (play in the snow) several times. He loves the snow. He loves to roll in it and eat it. He's like a big kid when it comes to the snow. I'm not sure if it snows in Missouri where he came from or not, but I can tell you that he is a boy of seasons! After I was up, Don took him out for a walk on his thirty foot leash, and Don said he was jumping in the snow banks and having a blast.

Our neighbor and Don's best bud Bennie comes over with his bobcat to plow out our driveway when we have a big snow. Our driveway is very very long, and shoveling is out of the question, and we had a lawn mower with a snow plow on it, but it broke this last year, so he always helps us out. He is a doll. He is also Mya's dad. Mya is a Belgian Mallinois, and a crazy bundle of energy. I was a little unsure about how she and Brutus would get along. Brutus is VERY laid back, and Mya never stops moving, but Mya came with Bennie this morning, and the two dogs had a lot of fun playing together in the snow. I threw some treats out, and they had to find them, which was no problem with the smellers they have on them!! They will have a blast this summer when they can swim and run around. I'm glad they can be friends.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

All Is Right With The Universe

So after Brutus's very bad day yesterday, I wasn't sure what to do. All I knew was that I didn't want a repeat, and I couldn't wait for Don to get to the lake. For the first time ever, I let Brutus out the door off leash to greet his Dad. He was so excited. He gave him lots of kisses, and then put his paws up onto the back of the open hatch of the Durango and started scoping out the truck. That little bugger was looking for his toy. I couldn't believe it. Don got a hold of it and threw it to Brutus, and he came bolting at the house like he had the biggest news ever. He ran in, jumped all over the place throwing his toy around and squeeking it like crazy. We're thinking that he maybe had a squeeky toy before he was thrown away, and maybe it gives him some sort of comfort. All I know is he was lovin life. Dad was home, the toy was home, mom had the carpet shampooer (thank God) and we could move forward. I think Sophie liked the pouty Brutus better. Instead of hanging out on the center island chairs, she headed back up on top of the refrigerator. He was acting like a crazy fool! I would get out of his way too.

On an even stranger note, Don got up during the night, and Brutus wasn't in his dog bed. This isn't a good feeling, being we don't trust him alone in the house yet. Where did he find him? On the green love seat that he had marked three times that day, which is also Sophie's favorite place to sleep. Can anyone say "competition"? Oy Vey!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Brutus's Very Big BAD Day!!

Today has not been a good day for Brutus, and therefore not a good day for me either. I can't tell if he's mad that his Dad isn't here, or that I forgot to bring with his favorite toy (really bad move) or if it's Sophie (the hide in the ceiling cat).

It started out with me walking in to the living room to notice that he had "marked" the side of my green love seat. At this point, I'm trying to decide if this is my fault for sleeping an hour too long, and it maybe looked like a nice big green shrub. I quickly put Brutus outside to go potty, and started cleaning. My carpet shampooer is in the cities, and all I could think to do was fill a bowl with hot sudsy water and run it through the fabric and let it drip through to an empty bowl. Then I squeeze dried it with towels. I was hoping that was the end of that.

I let Brutus in, and Sophie has been getting braver and standing on the kitchen center island chairs, and I noticed that every time I would go over and give her some love, Brutus would come over and head butt me. What is up with this?? I went in my bedroom to check my email, came back out to see Sophie sitting on the green love seat, and Brutus had marked it AGAIN! Now, this is not funny. Now we have two choices. This is a nice big green shrub, or he's pissed off at Sophie and marking his territory, which was technically hers first. I cleaned it up again after giving him a stern talking to and decided it was probably a good time for a walk.

We had a beautiful walk down the dirt road. It's a little over a mile down to our mail boxes, so we headed down there and back. He got to see lots of squirrels and smell a lot of deer tracks. There was one very uneducated chipmunk that decided to run across the road right in front of us. At that point I learned that Ugh boots are slippery even on dirt roads when you're being pulled by a sixty-five pound dog chasing a chippy. I got him back in control and on and went. It was gorgeous. I got back to the house with the certain feeling that things would be better. I went into my bedroom closet to grab my clothes before I showered, and Brutus brought me my favorite wool mitten, with a big chunk bitten out of it. He knew he had been naughty. When I looked at him and said "No Brutus, naughty", he laid down and put his paws over his eyes. Unbelievable.

So I get cleaned up, go out in the living room, and Brutus has peed on the side of the sofa AGAIN!!!! That is three times in less than five hours. I cleaned it up again, called Don to fuss and to tell him to put a move on it and bring the carpet shampooer, and decided that Brutus is having a bad day and will not be out of my sight for the rest of it, at least not until Don gets here. There is a reason that two parents are easier than one. I realize it isn't always possible, but in this case, I am SO glad that it's the way it is.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Awesome Collar and Tags at a Great Price

When we were trying to adopt Jackson, his foster mom Sandra had told me about a web site called Boomerang Tags. She said that if we ever needed a collar or tags to order them from here because not only do they last forever, but they are reasonably priced. So, as soon as Brutus was part of our family, I went to and placed my order. He now has a gorgeous blue collar, and I had two flat metal tags made that are right on the collar itself. They don't dangle, so there isn't any chance of them getting caught on something and coming off. One has our address in the cities on it with my phone number, and the other one has our lake address with the same phone number. Hopefully we'll never need to use them, but it sure is nice to know they are there. The even better part was that they arrived about four days after I ordered them. I also highly recommend this company. : )

We need a new Doggy School

As I noted in an earlier post, our first night at doggy school was a disaster. The nail gun that the construction guy was using sent Brutus into total shutdown mode. Well, this Tuesday was his second class, and we were hoping that he would have completely forgotten about that bad experience. I took the teachers advice and cut up his favorite treat (hot dogs) which are a rarity because they give him horrendous gas, and off we went. It's an hour drive to get to doggy school, so it's not only an investment financially, although a very modest one, but it's an investment of time. We got to the school and tried to stay very upbeat, and handed out a couple treats to Brutus on our way in the door. So far so good. We got into the big class room, and he was seeming a little off, but not too bad. I was doing some running with him on his leash and trying to distract him, hoping that he would just look at this as another whole new experience. What does he do??? He walks over to a folded, cloth covered table and pees all over it. Strike one. Don and I are frantically trying to clean it up before the other dogs and owners start to arrive. The instructor had suggested that we get there about fifteen minutes before everyone else so Brutus can try to get comfortable with the room before everyone else gets there. It would have helped if we wouldn't have had to spend ten minutes of it cleaning up pee!!

I thought things were going to be OK until the instructor walked in. Instant Brutus shutdown. I couldn't believe what happened to my boy. There is nothing Brutus loves more than hot dogs. The teacher comes over and says "hello" to Brutus, and offers him a treat, and his legs start to tremble and his eyes go blank. He won't look at me, and all he can try to do is find a door. He completely remembers the fact that it was her voice, her hand giving him a treat and the sound of the nail gun in that room that had scared him. He is done. He doesn't function for the whole hour. Actually, all he does is try to get out of the room. We stayed for the class so that I could watch what the other owners and dogs were learning and try to teach it to Brutus at home, but once we were in the car, Don and I almost at the same time said that we weren't going to put Brutus through that again. We have no idea what this guy has been through in his life. We only have a snap shot of the last five weeks, and it wasn't pretty.

So, we either need to find a new doggy school, or a new teacher to come to our house. In the meantime, I am going to attend the last two classes by myself without Brutus, which will be kind of embarrassing, but I really do learn a lot and it makes it easier to teach Brutus. Then I think I will get a hold of Sandra, Jackson's mom, and ask her for a name of a good trainer. She is a pro at training, and I'm sure she'll know someone. Even though we weren't able to adopt Jackson, I feel like I will always have a connection to Sandra, and that's a good thing.

First visit to the lake home

Brutus made his first trip to the lake home last weekend. I was a little worried that it was too soon to be going to yet another home for this big guy, but I figured that we would be there with him, so hopefully that would be enough security for him. It's about a two hour drive from our home in the cities, so we loaded up Brutus and the three cats and off we went. The trip itself went great. The cats were pretty quiet, and Brutus sat in his crate and didn't fuss at all. I actually felt kind of bad having him in the crate, but I knew he would be the most safe in there, especially with the three cats in the car too.

When we got to the lake, Don did the required trip around the interior of the house with Brutus to make sure he wouldn't "mark" any territories. So far so good. We had hooked a running line up to the front of the house a few weeks earlier when the dog named Jackson that we were hoping to adopt came to visit, so Don took Brutus outside and hooked him up so he could go potty. Brutus was just beside himself. He just looked around like he couldn't believe that he actually had all of this space and all of these smells (squirrels, deer, fox, etc.) to play in. He was literally jumping around. He was adorable. Don got out his red ball and threw it to him, and Brutus was jumping up in the air to catch it instead of letting it roll to a stop. This was one happy boy. Don was going up to the bar to meet our friends for the normal Friday night of pool and cocktails, but I stayed home with Brutus to get him cozied in. We had a good snugly night.

The next day, I was still feeling pretty cruddy with this cold that I had had for about a week, so Don was on Brutus duty. I think they put in about ten miles on Saturday. Don had a thirty foot umbilical leash that he hooked Brutus up to, and off they went. They even went out and played on the lake. Don said that Brutus would run to a snow bank and stick his whole head in it like he was looking for a little animal, but then he'd pop out and roll around in the snow and play. This boy was in doggy heaven!! He came in with Don at about 3:00 that afternoon, had his dinner and literally crashed. I let him get a good nap in, but my mom and her boyfriend Carsten were coming for dinner, and Brutus smelled like a stinky wet dog, so it was shower time. We have a walk in shower, and I figured he would just follow me right in there. I figured wrong, so I pulled the old "grab half a hot dog" trick and lured him into the shower. He was such a good boy, and came out smelling wonderful. Other than standing up on my mom to give her a smooch, he was a very good boy and won over my mom's heart. He laid on her feet for a while, stretched out to have his belly rubbed, and while we were eating, he laid on the rug by the front door. You can't ask for much more than that. What a love.

Sunday we always buzz through the house and clean the toilets and vacuum and get everything tidied up so when we come back the next weekend it's clean, and once we were done with that and all packed up we decided to take Brutus for one more walk before we loaded up the kitties and headed back to the cities. When we got back to the house, I put Bernice in her kitty crate and went to get Sophie. I literally could not find her anywhere. Don and I looked for over a half an hour. Then it occurred to me that he had cut a hole in Ashley's bedroom closet ceiling last summer to do some electrical work, and I looked in the closet, and sure enough, there were little claw marks on the wall, and a tuft of fur laying on the floor. That little stinker was in the downstairs ceiling, and there was nothing we could do. We called for her, we stomped on the upstairs floor, we put food to the entrance of the ceiling, we tried everything we could think of. Finally, we unloaded Bernice and plunked ourselves down on the couch to wait it out. We figured that once she heard us making "normal" noise, she'd come down. They always hide as soon as they hear us get the kitty crates out. They hate traveling, even though they love to be at the lake where they can watch all of the birds and chipmunks. We waited four hours, and she didn't budge. Don even cut a hole in the ceiling of the family room, and because of the way our house is built, we couldn't even see her. We finally had to leave, and leave her behind. I was devastated. I left two big bowls of water and two big bowls of food, but I was so worried that she would finally come out and be scared. These animals are treated like children. Needless to say, I cried most of the way home. In my head I knew she would be OK, but in my heart, I knew she would be scared. Being it was a holiday weekend, it was Monday night, and I knew I could get back on Thursday afternoon, so really, she only had to be alone for about three and a half days. I knew that she had it better than a lot of kitties. She had a nice warm home, plenty of food and her choice of four comfy beds to curl up on. She would be fine.

So we loaded Bernice back up, found Princess and put her in the truck (she is so calm that we just let her sit on my lap) and got Brutus to put him in the truck. When we left to go to the lake in the first place, Brutus practically flew into the truck. Now he wouldn't budge. Did he know that we were leaving the lake? Obviously he did. Don had to lift him into the truck, and push his little butt into his crate. It was very sad. Then, on top of everything else, we had packed up his dishes and food way before we left, and we forgot to feed him dinner. So, here it was, about 6:30 on the way home, and he's starting to seem restless. Duh, he's starving. We only feed him twice a day, and it was way past his dinner time. Being the good parents that we are, lol, we stopped at A&W and bought him a plain hamburger. We were back in his good graces.

The rest of the ride was fine, and we know that he'll be very happy to go back to the lake next weekend. : )

The cutest thing ever

I have been sick with a sore throat, so unfortunately I have missed out on blogging some really awesome "firsts" with our boy Brutus, but Tuesday night he did the most adorable thing I have seen since my kids were little.

Brutus and I were sitting on my bed while I was working on my laptop. My bedroom window faces the street, and he saw Don's Durango turn the corner to come into the circle. How he knew this was "Dad" is beyond me, but he jumped off the bed and ran in to Ashley's bedroom. Ashley's window faces the driveway. Brutus stood with his paws up on the window while Don got out of his truck. I was standing there too, kind of in disbelief at what I was watching, so I knocked on the window, and Don came out and waved to Brutus. His little butt started to wiggle like he was going to get up on his hind legs and do a dance. Don headed for the door, and before he could even reach it, Brutus was running down the hall and down the stairs, and literally missed about three steps while jumping into Don's arms. You have to keep in mind that this is a sixty-five pound dog going at full speed. It was so fun to watch. True love!! Brutus knows, and loves his dad. How cool is that!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tuesday was a BIG day

It's been quite a week, so I haven't had the chance to get in here and update, but I needed to get to it before I forgot about our first Tuesday together. We had a big day, and I definitely learned a lot about our new big boy Brutus. I had thought about changing that name, Brutus, but the more his personality keeps coming out, the more I seem to think that it fits him. He is one big bundle of boy, and seems like a Brute on the outside, but is a big softy on the inside, thank goodness!!

So Tuesday was Brutus's first visit to our family veterinarian. I was really anxious for this visit, not only to make sure that Brutus was healthy, but I wanted a better idea of how old he was. He just seemed too active to be any older than three, and he certainly wasn't five years old like the certificate from the shelter in Missouri said he was. So, we got up a little early that day, went for our two mile walk to tire him out a little bit and I got showered and ready to go. When I had picked Brutus up from Joan, he practically flew into my car, so I was expecting him to do the same on that day. We got out in the garage and I opened the car door, and he put his two front paws on the back seat and froze. He looked at me with his big sad eyes, and literally wouldn't move, so our day started out with me lifting his sixty pound butt into the car. This was strange. I couldn't figure out what the problem was. I thought he loved riding in the car. So, anyway, off to the vet we went. When we got there, he wouldn't get out. In my head, I'm sitting there thinking that he's thinking like a human. "Where are they taking me now?" "What have I done wrong?" It was breaking my heart for him all over again. I kept talking to him in a very upbeat tone, and giving him little treats. Once we got in the door, there were people and dogs, and he seemed a little more excited, but very uncontrollable. Of course, everyone fell in love with him. Impossible not to!

Time to get on the scale. My boy is afraid to get on the scale. His little legs started to shake. Again, not understanding this fear. We gave him another treat, praised him, and found out he is up to sixty five pounds. Go Brutus. I promise that he has had no table treats from us. We have been very good about only feeding him his required amount of kibble. Especially since he's getting so many little treats with his training.

The vet tech took us into a room (rather small room) and did all of the typical routine stuff, and let me ask a ton of questions. I am new at this being a doggy mom business, and there were things I needed to know. She was fabulous, but again, Brutus started to get very edgy. I could tell that being in an enclosed room made him nervous, so what did he do? He stood up, pushed down on the door handle and opened the door. Problem solved for him, but we had to high tail it to catch him before he headed out into the vet registration area and PetSmart, which is attached. Caught him. Long story short, she took him to the back room, updated his shots, trimmed one of his claws that was missed and brought him back to me with the vet. The vet said that he was in great health, and was nowhere near 3-5 years old. More like 1-2 years old. That would explain a LOT!! Such as chewing and playfulness. This boy is still a pup!! Anyway, all went well, and we are done for another three weeks until we head back for boosters.

After the vet, I needed to go to PetSmart to pick up a couple things. I have always thought it was so adorable how people shopped with their dogs, and being a cat owner, I have never gotten to do that, so I was kind of excited. I didn't really think about the consequences of having an untrained sixty-five pound dog, a purse, paper work, and a bag of medicine in my hands while I was trying to do it. First thing on the list, a cart. Even with a cart it was a chore, but I kind of had it under control. Basically, Brutus was pulling me around. I looked ridiculous. We had gone down a couple aisles, and I had picked up a couple more chew bones and toys to keep him entertained and away from MY things when all of a sudden he saw this strange orange looking toy, and he decided it was HIS! He had that thing off the rack, out of the package and in his mouth before I could say waaiiiit!! I got to the checkout, and bless the girls heart, she says to me "your dog has a toy in his mouth". I said 'yes, here's the tag from the package". Duh. I honestly wouldn't have stolen it, even though Brutus appears to be a kleptomaniac, I am not.

If you would have told me that a dog knows what they are looking for when they are shopping, I would have told you you were nuts. Since that was Tuesday, and this is Friday, I can tell you that Brutus doesn't let this toy out of his sight. He truly loves that toy, and apparently NEEDED it. It melts my heart that he has something that he loves so much. I know, big softy mom!!

After this exhausting experience, we went home and crashed for the afternoon. Puppy classes were coming up, and I needed a nap. We napped with the orange toy.

We were hanging out on the bed when Don got home at five o'clock, and even though Brutus had only been with us for four days at this point, he heard the garage door start to open, and his head flew like it was going to spin around in circles, and he was off the bed and flying down the stairs. Dad was home!! Yay!! Home, and we were off to class, which unfortunately would take us an hour to get to in the rush hour traffic. Again, Brutus didn't want to get in the car. I have to believe that he just doesn't trust that we aren't taking him to a bad place again. I'll be so glad when he knows that he is really a part of our family.

We were so excited to start obedience class. I am completely convinced that Brutus had a family that loved him up. He is just too sweet and snugly to have been completely neglected, and yet, they neglected him in the sense that they didn't teach him any manners or discipline, and therefore I am guessing they no longer liked having him around and threw him away. He is so smart, and I just know that he will be a fast learner. The kind of classes that we are doing are referred to as positive training classes. When they do what we want them to, they are rewarded, which enforces the good behavior and makes them want to do it again. The instructor was over talking to Brutus, and was just handing him a treat when a man working on the door frame in the next room shot off a nail gun. It startled Brutus, but we tried to distract him, and continue. She talked to him, and was going to reward him again, and just as she was handing him another treat, and gun went off again. This was a nightmare. Now he was associating her treats with a horrible noise. His legs started to shake and his tail went between his legs and he completely shut down. We actually had to take him out of the class room until the guy was done working on the door frame, and then when we did bring him back in, he could only sit and tremble. I was so upset. I just stood and watched what the instructor was teaching the rest of the dogs with the hope that I could teach Brutus at home during the week. What a bummer. On a bright note, I have been working with him every day, and without distractions, he can sit, lay down, and watch me (which is having eye contact for a few seconds). When I feed him, I have gotten him to sit and watch me to wait for his food. He is AWESOME!!

We are still having no luck with the cat/dog relationship. Brutus wants so badly to be friends with the cats, and they will have nothing to do with him. They hiss, and he pouts, and poor Bernice is still behind the furnace. Every night I take food and water in to her, and give her hugs and kisses. I really miss snuggling with my girls. Everything I have read says that it will take weeks for that relationship to form, so I need to be patient.

Boy did we all sleep on Tuesday. That was one heck of a day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Note to self, Be More Direct When Wanting Help With Brutus

So as today, my first day alone with Brutus came to an end, I was REALLY looking forward to my husband Don getting home. I found myself saying to Brutus, "aren't you excited for daddy to get home?". I am right back to where I was when I had small human children. The wonderful thing was, I knew that as soon as Don got home, he and Brutus would be leaving for Brutus's second walk of the day, and I would have some wonderful peaceful time alone. It might only be forty minutes, but it would be great.

I made dinner and said "hello" to my cats. Bernice, the middle one was still behind the water heater. At least it's nice and warm there. I have been putting food and water in the furnace room too, just to be sure that they are nourished while they adjust to their new brother. Maybe it's the wrong thing to do. Maybe I should be starving them so they come out of hiding, but frankly, if I were their size, I would be hiding too!!

So we had a nice dinner. Brutus was a little tuckered and actually laid on the floor. During dinner I explained to Don that I was going to clean up the kitchen, shampoo an area of carpet where Brutus had had an accident and then take a nice relaxing bath. Sounded good to him. I was hoping that he would catch the little hint in there that he was also going to be on dog duty tonight. I cleaned up the kitchen, with Brutus, and then went down to shampoo the carpet. The carpet shampooer wasn't working right, and when I was done I explained the problem to Don, but told him NOT to look at it tonight because I wanted to take a bath. He could look at it tomorrow. So, I went into the bathroom, brushed my teeth while the tub was filling and got in. Aah, heaven. I opened my eyes, and there was Brutus. Being I don't really know him yet, I wasn't sure if he was worried about me, or bathing me, but I was licked from head to toe, and he tried to drink half of the water in the tub. I yelled for Don a few times, but guess where he was... ladies??? any ideas??? you got it. Fixing the carpet shampooer. Don't get me wrong. I love that he fixes everything that needs fixing, but it was the whole "I'm taking a bath tonight" clue that flew right over his head that bugged me.

Note to self. Be more direct when wanting help with Brutus!

Day One Home Alone With Mom and Things are Going Great

So Brutus and I are having a great day. I swear, all I did was go downstairs to throw in a load of laundry, and I came upstairs to this. Thankfully it was just a junky throw pillow, but none the less, he emptied it in two seconds! I was so shocked that I wasn't even sure what to do. Once I took his picture and quit laughing, I gave him a stern "NO", and let him sit in his crate while I cleaned it up. He had never been in his crate before, and I could tell it was a place he didn't want to go. I had to nudge him a bit, and he put his head down and pouted the whole time I was upstairs cleaning up pillow stuffing. Could have used some advice on this one!! I have this beautiful new boy who was so close to losing his life, and was tossed from place to place in the process of saving it, and now he doesn't want to be alone for a minute. Good thing it's only technically day three.

Brutus finds his FURever home!

So last summer we decided to start our search for our dog. We thought it would be easy, after all, there are over 300,000 homeless dogs listed on, how hard could this be. We only had two requirements. 1) they had to be a little cat savvy, after all, we didn't want our new friend to come home and look at our three cats as lunch. 2) biting was something we couldn't accept. We knew we were going to have to deal with training and some behavioral issues since we were adopting an adult dog, but we are very patient and willing to go to doggy (human) school, so most everything else could be dealt with.

The first dog we fell in love with was a beautiful collie named Buffy. She was nine years old and had been through many shelters and foster homes, and needed her "furever home". We knew we were the ones. We started in on application number one. Part way through the application, I wondered if I was adopting a dog, or a new baby from a foreign country. This was a big deal, but complete the application I did. The wonderful lady from the Midwest Collie Rescue Organization emailed me to let me know that my application was being reviewed, and I would be contacted soon. My three references that I had listed contacted me first. Wow, I didn't think they would actually call all of them!! They called my veterinarian too. Well, that's a good sign. They are very protective of their dogs, and want to make sure they go to a good home. OK. On we go. Next up was the home visit. By now we were going on week number two. A very nice woman came to our home to do the inspection, and when she arrived, she informed us that Buffy's foster parents had decided to keep her. We were happy for Buffy, but crushed. We weren't just looking for "A" dog, we wanted "that" dog. We spent the next few weeks being a little bruised, and looking through the dog listings.

In October, on the same organizations website, but posted off to the side as a "friends of M.W.C.R" was a listing for a beautiful boy named Jackson. He was part collie, and part lab, and he had a face that you just couldn't help but love! I emailed Jackson's foster mom immediately to see if we could meet him. It was a few days before I heard anything, but when she did call, we hit it off right away. In my head, I'm thinking "great, not only will we have an awesome dog, but I can be friends with his foster mom too". Life will be GOOD! I had to have some surgery the first week of November, so it was two weeks later that we finally got to go meet Jackson. He was a very shy boy, but an absolute doll. He was the dog of her best friend, who had unfortunately passed away the year before from an unexpected medical condition, and it had been traumatic not only for the foster mom, but for Jackson too. He lost his mom and gained three canine sisters and a feline sister all in one night. He had had a tough time. His foster mom spent a lot of time and effort helping him through that time, and her heart was invested. I knew in my gut that we were in trouble right away, and told her that I had that feeling, but she insisted that if Jackson could have a good life, she would let him go. November turned into December, and she couldn't make a decision. She needed to come and see my home. Understandable. In the middle of December I had her and Jackson come to my home and spend a night (she lives four hours away). We had a wonderful time, and Jackson was a love. For being a shy dog, he did a good job of opening up. He let me brush him and rub his belly, and go for a good walk. He even gave me kisses goodbye. I was hooked. When they left the next day, I could tell his foster mom was upset (in a sad way) and I felt sad because I was hooked, and I also knew it wasn't going to happen. December turned into January, and no dog.

Now we're into New Year's Eve. We show up at our friends party, and everyone is wondering about Jackson. I'm actually embarrassed to say that we don't have him yet. They are all shocked, and no matter how I try to explain it, I have a very personal understanding of Jackson and his foster mom's history and it just can't easily be explained.

The next day I decide the time has come to ask for an answer. We have been through over nine weeks of waiting, and our hearts are starting to hurt. No answer. In the meantime, as if fate is stepping in, I receive an email from the Midwest Animal Rescue Services saying that they have a big guy named Brutus who was in a shelter in Missouri where they put the dogs into a small room and gas them, and his time had come. The people working at the shelter liked him so much that they had contacted M.A.R.S. to see if they could save him. Save him they did. They went and picked Brutus up from Missouri and placed him in a foster home the second week in December. Unfortunately, his foster mom broke her ankle, and Brutus is a 60 lb. golden retriever/lab mix who is around two-three years old with no training, and she could no longer care for him, so off to another foster home he went. This time he landed with a very nice woman named Joan who ran a daycare center with 14 children. 14 children?? How gentle did this dog have to be to be allowed with that many small children?? We made the decision to go forward and meet him.

I contacted M.A.R.S. to say that we would love to meet Brutus, two days later Joan brought Brutus and two of her children to our house. What a love! He didn't jump on us or bark. He gave kisses, rolled over so we could rub his belly and was all around a sweetheart. At one point he sat and rubbed noses with his foster boy Cody. We were warned that he chews anything laying around, check, and that he counter surfs, check. Those were things we could work on with training. We would absolutely welcome him into our family. Joan and I both agreed to contact M.A.R.S. to arrange the adoption.

The next afternoon I signed the adoption papers and then picked up my daughter Ashley and headed to Joan's to pick up Brutus. It was absolutely amazing. Brutus took one look at Ashley, ran to her and sat on her feet. He was ready. Joan tried to put him outside to go potty, and Brutus would have nothing to do with it. Did he remember us? Did he know that he was going home? We said our goodbyes to Joan and started to head up the stairs to the front door, and Brutus beat us to the door. He couldn't wait. He practically dragged Ash all the way to the car, jumped right in the back seat and that was that. On the way home he kept giving us kisses, and at one point he tried to climb into Ashley's lap. One happy dog. This was making me nervous. Nothing could be this good!!

And so, life with Brutus has begun.

The first night with Brutus was a little rough. We didn't get home until 6:30, so he didn't have that long to play and get to know us before bedtime. We had bought him a nice dog bed, but he decided he was going to chew it up, so we had to take it away. He jumped up in bed with us, but kept digging and chewing at our blankets. It finally occurred to me that he probably wanted a blanket of his own to make into a bed, so I got him an old blanket. He started to shred it. OK, this could be his nerves. Then he started to bite me. Not cool. The woman at M.A.R.S. said to use a water bottle for any bad behaviors and say "NO". I felt horrible, but I did it, and he stopped. He spent the rest of the night in my arms, snoring like a bear. I was sure I was creating a monster, but when I thought of everything that this poor guy had been through, how could I possibly ban him to the floor. It just isn't in my heart to do that.

Our first full day with Brutus was a day of trial and ERRORS. Do we feed him upstairs in the kitchen, or downstairs in private. How do we know when he has to go outside? He wasn't giving us any hints, so we just kept putting him out every couple hours. We knew he hadn't really been walked good for a few weeks, so we decided two good walks a day was in order. I don't know if his bowels were this active before, but boy did they start working now. Four big poops in one day. We were all a little jealous, and a little overwhelmed at the thought of scooping up those big boys. It made the five litter boxes look like a piece of cake!

And then there were the cats. They had all been under Ashley's bed since Brutus came into the house. It was time to get them out and see what happened. First there was Princess. She's the oldest and definitely the pack leader of the cats. She snarled and hissed at him, and Brutus sat down and looked so hurt and offended that we couldn't help but laugh. He has these eyebrows that literally speak for him. OK, that didn't go so well, but at least we don't think he'll eat them. Than came Sophie. Her reaction is visceral. Back under the bed for her. My little Bernice is a lost cause. She is very skiddish about everything anyway, so she is going to take some time.

By the end of the day, Brutus's very unexperienced parents had given him lots of "good boys" followed by little treats, two big walks, gone to the store twice for different kinds of chew toys that he "maybe" wouldn't destroy, and were definitely ready to drop into bed. I was all geared up for another night of having a sixty pound dog sleeping on me, but he wouldn't even get up on the bed. Did he remember the water in the face?? He went to his dog bed, laid down and started snoring. That was that until the next morning. Oh my gosh, could this be true? On to day two.

Day number two with Brutus was just Don and I because Ashley had to work her last full day before going back to Kansas to school. If we were a little scared to go from three people to two, just imagine how I am feeling today as I am writing this. Don decided that the cats needed some place other than under the beds to live, so he ran to Target to get a couple baby gates. We have litter boxes in the furnace room and laundry room, and food in the laundry room, so we put baby gates on both doors, and left just enough room under the gates for the cats to go flying under if need be. For some reason, Brutus won't cross that boundary. He could push them over with his nose, but he won't go up to them. At some point he must have had boundaries. He hasn't had any training as far as manners go, but it's obvious that he was shown love at some point. It makes it all the harder to understand how someone could get rid of this guy. Especially just dump him at the pound. I guess I will never fully understand that concept. I guess it's better than throwing them out in a ditch. By evening, Sophie is the only one who has figured out that Brutus can see her, but not get to her through the gate. She is a bit of a toddler herself, and is liking this concept.

The day goes along pretty unevenful until Ashley gets home from work. You would have thought that the meat market guy had just decided to make a visit. Brutus is in love with Ashley. He has never jumped on any of us, and I wouldn't really call what he did "jumping". I would call it more of a "hug". He put his paws around her very gently and nuzzled her. He was so excited. He followed her everywhere from the minute she got in the door until he was so tired that he was begging us to go to bed. If we didn't think he was smart, we were wrong. He has a knuckle bone that has peanut butter deep in the middle. Some of the pieces that he was breaking off were very sharp, and we were getting a lttle worried about his gums getting hurt, or even breaking a tooth the way he was chewing on that thing. A couple shards had broken off, and Don reached over and picked them up. Brutus gave him a bit of an annoyed look, picked up his bone, walked around the center island in the kitchen to avoid going any closer to Don and moved away and started chewing again. Don thought it was just a fluke, so when another piece snapped off, he reached over and picked it up. This time Brutus picked up his bone and walked about five feet further away. We couldn't believe it. He wasn't mean, but certainly made his point. About 9:00 he kept walking up to Don and kind of looking into his face, and then walking down the hall to our bedroom. We couldn't figure out what he wanted, but we finally realized he wanted to go to bed, and didn't want to be alone. He finally gave up and crawled into his bed. He hadn't really napped at all during the day, so I'm sure he was pooped.

And that brings us to today. I am alone with a sixty pound baby. I am actually nervous. He is a love, but this guy needs to be watched all of the time. We don't start doggy classes until tomorrow, so I feel like I need to not only watch him, but entertain him to keep him out of trouble. Don gets up at 6:00, so thankfully he lets him outside in the morning and feeds him, and bless his heart, he went back to bed until I woke up at 8:00. Woot woot!! I started typing this blog, and everything was going fine, bone chewing was going good, until I noticed pillows coming upstairs. Boredom had set in. It was time to go for a walk. Now what you have to keep in mind is that I haven't walked in about two months, and prior to this not walking phase, I had been walking on a treadmill, so when Brutus and I headed out for our jaunt this morning, the last thing I expected was to run into a bunch of dead ends that had snow banks that were too big to get over. My intended one mile walk turned into a good two and a half mile walk, the majority of which was up hill. I am aching already. I think I will name him Brutus the body builder. Oy Vey!! This might be a good way to take off the Christmas seven that I gained. I'll keep you posted.