Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dairy Queen in Baldwin is Awesome!!

Brutus has a new favorite drive through restaurant. You're probably wondering why a dog would have a favorite restaurant in the first place. Well, usually by the time we get headed back home from the lake, it crosses meal time, and Don and I are hungry. We don't have the heart to sit there and eat in front of big old sad eyes, so we usually order him a plane hamburger, but today at the Dairy Queen in Baldwin, a very cute girl wondered if he could have a treat. We assumed she meant one of those cheap artificially colored dog treats, and of course we said "yes", but she came back with a cup of Dairy Queen soft serve, topped with a dog treat. Brutus was absolutely beside himself. We had to pull over and park so he could slurp up his doggy treat. We now know that he loves ice cream, and I'm sure that if he could talk, he and Don would be giving high fives on the pretty girl too. :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I wanted to say that I love hearing your comments and feedback. It's fun to know that there are friends out there keeping up with Brutus, and I also want to say that I am always open for advice. This is my first "dog owner" experience as an adult. When I was a little girl I had a wonderful dog named Oscar, but doggy lives were much different back then. We lived out in the country, and Oscar and I went everywhere together. There were no leashes, and no city rules. He was just a dog. I am always open to advice or suggestions that anyone has out there, as all of you dog owners have had a whole lot more experience in this department than I have.

Happy reading.

White Coat Syndrom Overboard

I am feeling so sad. Brutus had doggy class today, and part of the class was giving our dogs massage, and checking their teeth and ears. When I smelled Brutus's ears, they smelled kind of sour, so after class I ran him next door to his veterinarian. Now the last time he was there didn't go very well to say the least. He was very scared as soon as they closed the exam room door, so today I asked them to leave the door open until the exam started. I thought maybe that would keep him a little more calm. As it is, he is already labeled as a vicious dog on the charts because the last time they tried to take Brutus's temperature, he turned around and tried to bite the vet tech. Not cool.

Today was worse. After the vet tech was done taking down all of the basic information on the computer, she started putting the lube on the thermometer. I reminded her that he wasn't going to cooperate on that "end", so she suggested that she swab his ears first, and then we could muzzle him and take his temperature. She came toward him with a Q-tip (quite harmless) and he freaked out and started growling and probably would have bit her if she hadn't stepped back. She went in back and got a soft nylon muzzle and brought it to the room, and I put it on Brutus. He literally lets me do anything to him without hesitation. She went to swab his ears again, and he started growling and bucking like a bronco. At that point she thought it might be better to take him in back where she could have a couple people help her, and I wouldn't have to be involved in a negative action with him. About five minutes later she and the doctor came back to the room with Brutus, and they were both sort of out of breath. The good news.....the doctor said that Brutus's ears were a little red. Not infected, but I should clean them every couple days for the next week and see if it clears up the odor. The bad news.....she said that from now on, in order to examine him, they would need to sedate him. He literally tried to attack both of them even with his muzzle on. I was absolutely heart broken. Brutus is literally one of the most gentle and sweetest dogs I have ever met. There has to be something in his past that has happened at the veterinarian or a similar type situation that has him so petrified that he feels like he has to fight for his life. I was on the verge of tears.

Libby, our new dog trainer happened to be in her second doggy class of the day, and it was a puppy class that was learning to be weighed on the scale at the vet. She saw Brutus and I out in the waiting area. I told her what had happened, and she was absolutely shocked. Libby has a very confident personality, and she took Brutus by the leash and headed up to the desk and told the girls that Brutus would be coming over to visit every Wednesday morning after class, and they are to welcome him with lots of love and cookies. They said they would, but I don't think any of them are too excited about it. I can't blame them. If a dog tried to attack me, I wouldn't exactly want to love it up and give it a cookie either. Good thing he's up to date on everything until August. I just need to keep the big guy in good health, and keep Libby on his side!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

At The Lake With Grandma and Grandpa

Brutus just had his first visit with Grandpa and Grandma from Illinois (Don's parents). They made brownie points right off the bat by bringing a wonderful red and white rope ball for him to chew on and play fetch with. He loved it, and he loved them. I'm guessing that Grandpa was probably given instructions ahead of time that he wasn't supposed to feed Brutus any table scraps, but since he IS the grandparent, we may have looked the other way a couple times when a little piece of ham or cheese may have disappeared. :)

On Friday, Grandma Marge and I spent the day in town shopping, so Brutus spent the day pouting by the front door. He really hates it when I leave him home alone (with dad). He also isn't fond of going downstairs, at the lake or at home. It's hard to say what is behind this dislike of basements, but on Friday night when Dad and Grandpa went to the bar to meet up with our friends to play some pool, Brutus did come down and sit on the big chair with me and watch a movie. At one point he even went over and crawled up on the couch with Grandma. It was adorable. The other biggie for the day.....BRUTUS RANG HIS POOCHIE BELLS WHEN HE NEEDED TO GO OUTSIDE. We are so proud of him. Smart boy!!

Saturday Don took Brutus for a big walk, and then we just hung around the house. Grandma plays a mean game of double solitaire, so we spent the afternoon doing that, and Dad and Grandpa had been working very hard on a 2000 piece puzzle. They didn't get too far on the puzzle, but they got a lot of sorting done, and spent some great quality time together. Brutus spent the day getting belly rubs and playing fetch and getting treats. Life is good. He tried to help me beat Grandma at solitaire by leaning on her arm for some lovin while we were playing, but it didn't work. She still beat me.

Today we're heading back home. Don's parents left earlier this morning. You'll notice in the top picture that it looks like Brutus is jumping on Grandpa Dick, but what he does is actually stand up very gently and gives a hug and a closed mouth kiss. Even though it's very very sweet, we're trying to discourage it because some people get downright scared if a dog does this, and he's also big enough to knock over a child. But, I gotta tell ya, it really is cute. Someone had to have loved him at some time. He has so many mannerisms of pure love about him, and he's so gentle.

Brutus seems to look for the kitties when we don't bring them to the lake. I haven't brought them with the last couple weekends. It seems like they kind of need a little break from him, and a chance to have the whole house to themselves, so as much as I miss my girls, I have left them home. Bernice (the one who has been hiding behind the furnace since Brutus came home) is getting a little better. Once Brutus and I are cozied in for the night, Don brings Bernice up from the basement (out of hiding) and brings her to the bedroom to say "hello" to Brutus. She acts very scared and fusses, but each day seems to get a little better. The last night that we did this, I held her on my chest, and Brutus was laying right next to me. She tried to run, but I just talked gently to her, and Brutus, and we stayed that way for at least three minutes, so it's progress. Sophie and Princess are doing much better with Brutus. If anything, they are sassy and need to mellow out a bit. I think they hurt the big guys feelings.

So anyway, I better get back to packing up, but it was a wonderful weekend for Brutus, and us! Brutus really loves it at the lake, and I can't wait until spring is here, and we can really work on his boundaries and try to teach him where our actual yard is. Thankfully he knows everyone in the neighborhood, so if he does get loose, they would know him. We just don't want to go there.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What A Night!

Brutus has had quite the night. It started out by being chased by our oldest cat Princess. You have to keep in mind that Princess is at least thirteen years old, and very laid back. She spends most of her time sleeping and acting like a "Princess". Well, she must have decided that she had had enough of this big funny looking furry thing tooling around the house. Brutus was running down the hallway, and at first Princess had poked her head out of the office, which is at the end of the hallway, but then she pulled her head back. But, as soon as Brutus got to the end of the hallway, she tore out of the office at full speed and chased him through our bedroom, through the bathroom and back out to the hallway. I don't think Brutus knew what had happened. He was just freaked out. Princess made it very clear that she was the leader of THIS pack, and things weren't going to be changing just because he was bigger. I think she did a good job of making her point.

I had to leave to do some grocery shopping, and apparently Brutus sat by the front door the whole time I was gone. He has a bit of separation anxiety when I leave, and it's something that isn't a good thing. I'm going to have to work on that, after I work on everything else. lol

When I got home from getting groceries, it was bath time. Brutus tried everything he could to escape, but we got him. He's very patient during his bath, the problem is just getting him there. Once he's there, he pretty much gives up. He had gotten quite stinky since his bath a little over a week ago, and there's nothing that smells worse than a stinky dog, and Grandma and Grandpa are coming tomorrow to meet him for the first time, so bath time it was! Now he smells lovely.

The last amazing thing that happened tonight in Brutus World was he rang the Poochie Bells for the first time. For those of you that don't remember what Poochie Bells are, they are bells that you hang on whatever door the dog uses the most to go to the bathroom, and the goal is to teach them to ring the bells when they need to go outside. We've been working on this for the last week, and I was sure that he would never get it. He has shown absolutely no interest. But, tonight I was sitting upstairs in the bedroom checking my email, and I heard the bells ring downstairs. At first I just ignored it figuring Don had taken him downstairs to go potty, but then it occurred to me that I didn't hear Don giving him the good old pep talk of "Brutus, do you need to go potty? Lets go buddy". So, I headed to the basement to check it out, and sure enough, there he stood by the door waiting to go outside. I was SO excited. I can't even tell you!! He is a dog that never barks, so his normal way of telling us that he needs to go potty is to just look at us and walk away. Not easy to read. Brutus got two treats when he came in tonight. :)

Brutus has had quite the night. Good thing he can sleep in tomorrow morning!

New Doggy Class

So, Brutus started his new Doggy Class today. This class is being taught at PetSmart in Eden Prairie by a woman named Libby. Libby has been teaching this class at this particular store for thirteen years, and she is a no nonsense woman. My son Andrew worked at this store through high school, and has fond memories of Libby, thank goodness! I was also glad to hear that Libby had fond memories of Andrew, otherwise this relationship could be a bit awkward.

Anyway, class went just fine. Actually, it went good. We didn't really learn anything with the dogs today, but just spent the hour getting the dogs comfortable with each other, and with her, and learning about the different types of collars and leashes and how to use them. I have always felt very strongly against choke chain collars. They can do great damage to a dogs esophagus when they are yanked on. She actually uses one on her Great Dane, but not for training. She uses positive reinforcement for training, but she shows her Great Danes professionally, and apparently the chain is part of the "costume". The other chain she went over is the "prong chain". It has actual prongs on it that when tightened, put pressure on the whole neck. It looked more like a torture device, but she said they are actually safer than a choke chain because there is less chance of damaging the dogs esophagus. She still doesn't highly recommend them, but she said there are certain situations where they are necessary, and I guess that we had one of those situations in our class. There were only three dogs in the class. Brutus, London, a beautiful coon hound and grey hound looking mix, and then Riley, the dog that had on the prong collar who looked like a big goofy sweet stuffed animal. The problem was, this dog was rescued, and apparently after being rescued it got into a tiff with a small dog, and the dog took a chunk of fur out of it, and it's been having a really hard time with aggression since then. I don't blame it. It had already been through enough. It was having a really hard time settling down. This mom had had this dog in classes that only involved positive reinforcement since last June, and still couldn't get Riley to walk past a "strange" dog without growling, and Riley was also overly protective of her when it came to her husband and kids.

There is also the harness option, which goes around the chest cavity of the dog, and then the gentle leader which is clasped tightly around the head of the dog from under the chin to the top of the skull, and has a loose band that goes over the nose. It allows the dog to breathe and eat and bark, but if the leash is pulled back on, it will tighten up a little and pulls on the back of the head, thus directing the dog. The mom with the silly furry dog had tried every option, and the only thing she could use short of the choke collar, was the prong collar. The way she explained it was like this. She said that this dog was thrown away because it was untrained and out of control. She loved this dog, and wanted it to have the best life possible, but in order to do that, she had to get it trained to respect her and it's boundaries. In that type of situation, I can understand it. She was one of the kindest women I had met, and a very experienced dog owner, so I put my judgment out the window in this case.

Anyway, there are only the three of us, and Libby brought in her beautiful dog "Link" to say hello to each of our dogs. What a beauty. I can see why she shows her dogs professionally. This particular dog was so beautiful, and so well trained. I am actually looking forward to next weeks class.

After class, I took Brutus to PetCo, yeah, I said PetCo, to pick up a bunch of stuff. I figure I'm probably on video running from Brutus's peeing excursion at PetSmart, so I'm going to let my shopping trips there cool down for a couple weeks. This shopping trip he was still on his gentle leader, and the shopping experience was much different than the last one that we had. He did lift his leg once, but I said "no" right away, and he stopped immediately. Everything just went better. I definitely learned that he has to have his gentle leader on. He's just too immature to go anywhere in public without it.

After a big morning of doggy class and shopping, he is now crashed on the bed next to me. Now it's time for me to get busy. Grandma and Grandpa from Illinois are coming to visit us at the lake tomorrow, so it's time to start packing. Brutus will love them, and hopefully he'll be a good boy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Terrible Admission

This is a terrible thing to admit, but today I am tired of being the parent of an adolescent dog. I'm sure that the main reason is that my back is sore, so I don't feel like heading out on a two mile icy walk with Brutus, and his behavior is totally dependant on the amount of exercise that he gets. If I don't walk him in the early day at some point, he spends most of the rest of his day trying to figure out what he can get into that he shouldn't.

Since I didn't physically feel up to a walk this morning, I thought I would try to be a good mom and play catch with him in the back yard. His tie in the back yard is only twenty feet, so I took a long piece of rope and tied it to his collar, and I let out a good 45 feet. The end that I was hanging onto was wrapped around a plastic holder, kind of like if you were going to fly a huge kite, except the rope is really heavy duty. I threw the ball about four times, and it was going great. Then he decided that he wanted to check out the pine trees in the back of our yard. Could he just trot back there to check them out? Nope. Brutus needed to run around a tree trunk of a small tree, run around the base of a bird feeder and then head down to the trees. He was a complete tangled up mess. As I was getting him untangled, it didn't occur to me that I should be winding up the slack in the rope, so when I finally got him untangled, he bolted after a squirrel. I still had him by the rope, but he pulled so hard that he broke the holder that I had a hold of in half, so the rope was zipping through my gloved hand. I finally sat on my butt and got a firm grip on the rope and started winding it around my wrist, and got it wound up enough so he was within my reach, and then I took his regular tie and hooked it onto him while I wound up the rest of the rope and untied it from his collar. His fun time was over.

In my head, I was thinking that he should be able to think about this like a human. Shouldn't he have known that this was a special treat to be able to have almost enough length to run the whole back yard to play catch? He should have been thanking me for the ability to run and prance in the snow and play. Yeah right. He was thinking like the two year old dog that he is. He smelled something, and he wanted to smell it better. After I pulled my shit together and realized that I was the one making the mistake, we played some fetch, but only on the short leash.

Tomorrow will be a new day, and hopefully a better day. I had days like this with my children all the time, and they could speak English, so this is a lesson to me and anyone else reading this blog. Check your anger, don't get physical, and try to look at the situation for what it really is. It's too easy to jump right to anger and hit the dog. I have seen it happen many many times, and I am so glad that I didn't go there. Is he sorry? Heck no. He was just being a two year old. I have often wondered what animals think when they get hit. It has to come as a horrible shock to them, especially if they're doing something that comes to them naturally. It's really very sad. What Brutus needs to learn is a good recall, and that's my responsibility. We're working on it, but it takes time.

I am also amazed at how he is blowing out his coat. When we first adopted Brutus, he didn't shed at all. He came from a relatively warm climate to a freezing cold climate, so it seems very strange to me that he would be losing fur. You'd think that he would be hanging on to every hair that he has. I watched him trot down the stairs today when I was in the laundry room, and I could just see the fur falling off of him. He isn't fond of being brushed, but I have managed to go over his coat a few times. It just doesn't seem to help. It could possibly be a change in his food. We have switched him gradually over to a better quality food. I don't know. I'm kind of throwing my arms up over this one.

Anyway, even though I don't want to be a doggy mom today, I still love him, and he is laying here by my legs snoring as I type this. It's actually kind of funny how just putting this down on "paper" makes me feel better.

Deep Cleansing Breath.....Ahhhh

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Super Duper Doggy Fun Weekend

Brutus had an amazing weekend! Friday we headed to the lake, and this time mom (me) stayed home and snuggled in and watched movies with him while dad went to the bar with our friends and played pool. I knew that I would be seeing all of our friends on Saturday night at the Valentine's Party, so it was snuggle night with Brutus!!

Saturday, my pal in crime Pam called to go for a walk, so we took Brutus for a three mile walk. I think he was actually tired out when we got back, which is rare for him. Pam and her husband Gary had to have a bunch of trees cut down along the road by the Department of Forestry, and I swear that the deer population tripled because of all of the tasty fresh tree tops lying around on the ground. Brutus could barely stay focused. At one point, six deer went running across the road in front of us. They were so beautiful. It was just a beautiful day in general.

After walking three miles, my legs were achy, and all I could see was my whirlpool tub waiting for me. Don needed to run into town to pick up a couple things, so he volunteered to take Brutus shopping with him so I could just kick back and relax in the tub. It was so nice for me, and awesome for Brutus. He loves to run errands, plus he gets to sit in the front seat when he's only with one parent. I know it isn't the safest thing in the world for anyone concerned, but he is one happy dog. Don got sucked into the whole "I'm taking my dog shopping" fun, and came out of the store with a yummy bone for him. He spent a good couple hours gnawing on that when he got home. And even better, Don brought me a sweetheart rose plant for Valentine's Day. He did good. I'm not sure if Brutus reminded him or not, but either way, I was happy.

My friend Sandra had told me about these dog toys called "KONG". They are super heavy duty rubber, so Brutus can't destroy them which is awesome, and some of them are hollow. She suggested that I put a mixture of peanut butter and kibble inside of the toy and freeze it so I can give it to Brutus to keep him entertained and a little happy when we leave him and have to put him in his crate. I did this on Saturday night, and it was a huge hit. The hole to get the food out of is relatively small, so he must have had to work pretty hard at it! He still wasn't happy to be in his crate, but at least he had some fun while he was in there. We got home from our party pretty late that night, but he sort of stretched out of his crate, went outside to go potty, and went right to bed. He was a very good boy.

Sunday morning we had to get up early and head back to the cities. Andrew and Karri were coming to lunch to celebrate Karri's birthday. This was going to be the first time that they would be meeting Brutus too. I kept asking Brutus if he was excited to meet one of his big brothers, and he would cock his head to the side and look at me like I was crazy. I'm sure by the tone in my voice he knew something good was coming, but he just didn't know what. As I expected, he loved Andrew and Karri, and if he could have gotten that boy to go outside and play fetch for a few hours, they would be the very best of friends!! Unfortunately, it was cold and snowy, so the fetch playing had to be done from the living room down the hallway. I still can't believe that I allow that. When my kids were little, I didn't even let them walk around in the living room. They had to play downstairs in the family room. Boy have I changed!! Good thing, or we would be one very miserable household!!

Brutus has been snoring since 6:00. A true sign of a great weekend. Happy Valentine's Day everyone, canine and human!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Going To The Lake

Brutus gets so excited when I start to pack the car to go to the lake that he needs to sit in the car to wait until we leave. He won't get out for anything. So, here is Brutus, waiting to go to the lake. At one point, he let out this huge yawn. I could just hear him saying "seriously guys, all we need is my food and leash, lets go".

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don Learned A Lesson

This was way too funny. Last night, Don and I and Brutus were laying on the bed watching T.V. Well, Don and I were trying to watch T.V., and Brutus was trying to play tug of war with his favorite "stolen" toy with Don. Neither one of them was going to give up, and I could just see what was going to happen when one of them finally did, so I moved over a little further toward the edge of the bed to get out of the way. About ten seconds later, Brutus just let go. It wasn't even like Don won, he just simply let go. The toy, along with Don's hand went flying into Don's eye. Don was so shocked that he dropped the toy to hold his wounded eye, and then Brutus jumped on his stomach to grab the toy, so it was like a one two punch. I haven't laughed that hard in weeks.

If Don doesn't have a black eye today, he certainly has a sore one. Oh my gosh that was funny!! I wonder if Brutus knew what would happen if he let go. Bwa ha ha ha !! The training is going so well. Just kidding!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Boy Did I Learn A Lesson

Ugh!! Did I ever make a mistake today. Brutus loves to go places with me, so if I'm just running to the post office, or better yet to PetSmart, I take him with me. Nine times out of ten, I put his walking harness on him in the car just in case he would escape. His leash is always attached to it, so it would give me something to grab during the great escape.

Anyway, he didn't try to escape today, but instead of putting his gentle leader on him, I just put his leash on him when I left to do errands. Everything went fine until we got to PetSmart. Oh....My...God!!! It was literally the trip from hell. I have been in there with him so many other times, but this time was bad. I needed cat litter, which is way in the back of the store, and the first thing he does when we get back there is pee on the display. I was mortified, and didn't know what to do, so being the horrible dog owner that I was at that moment, I pretended I didn't see him do it. Then we headed over to the dog food aisle. I needed a bag of dog food for Brutus, and the little butt head lifted his leg again. I couldn't believe it. I had walked him out in the parking lot to go potty right before we came in the store. How much urine can one dog have? Seriously!!

Now that his bladder was empty, he decided he would start pulling me through the store. I had the cart, with two 27 lb. containers of cat litter and a 25 lb. bag of dog food in it, so about the equivalent of Brutus, to push too. It didn't slow him down a bit. I needed about three other little things, and as he's dragging me along, there is a woman who has been at PetSmart as a trainer for years and years who happened to spot us. I was trying to keep "it" together, and introduced Brutus to Libby, the dog trainer. The first thing I always do is explain the short amount of time that we have had Brutus, and that he is a rescue dog. For some reason I seem to think that it will make his naughty behavior acceptable. Libby took Brutus's leash and said she was going to show me something. She held his leash in one hand, and stood on the rest of it with all of her body weight so his head was about a foot and a half off of the ground, and told me to ignore him. While we were ignoring him, I told her that my son Andrew had worked there through high school, and she remembered him. Thankfully, fondly. Brutus kept pulling on the leash, so she shortened the distance he had by about three inches and we waited. We did this for a good ten minutes. By the time he finally succumbed and laid down, his head was only about eight inches from the floor. She said that if I want to control him in public, I need to show him who's boss, and take control of his behavior by standing on his leash. She said it wouldn't take more than four times, and he would remember it, and lay down. She handed his leash to me while he was still on the floor, and he bolted, so I stood on his leash like she had, and after about five minutes, he laid down on the floor. Lesson learned. It's just a little tough to stand on his leash when you actually have to move through the store to shop!

She took me to the front of the store and we signed Brutus up for lessons. Hopefully this round of lessons will go better than the last. For one thing, this place is only five minutes from my house instead of forty-five, and Brutus has been there many times and never had a break down, so keep your fingers crossed.


I also met a nice woman who told me about a great dog park very close to my house that is totally fenced in where he can run and play fetch, so we will be going there very soon. He needs to burn off some energy. As for me, I am pooped!!

My Big Helper, Uh Yeah

So I spend every day now being shadowed by a big hairy dog. It used to be that the three cats were usually following me around, but since they haven't completely warmed up to Brutus yet, they are still keeping their distance.

Since Brutus is constantly by my side, it means that he is also "helping" me with everything I do. If I am washing the kitchen floor, Brutus is running back and forth across the floor leaving footprints on it. If I am loading the dishwasher, he is trying to lick the dirty dishes and unload it. If I'm vacuuming, he lays just in front of the vacuum cleaner and moves with me. Yesterday I was changing the sheets on my bed. With animals in the house, and being I love to snuggle on the bed with those said animals, I wash all of our bedding once a week, bedspread included. It started with trying to strip the bed. Brutus plopped his big body right in the middle of the bed and thought it was a great game while I tried to get all of the bedding off of the bed. Then I grabbed the clean bedding. Every time I tried to put a sheet or blanket on, Brutus had to jump on and wrestle in it. At this point I realized something about myself. I am foolishly patient. The majority of people would have yelled at Brutus and gotten the job done. I allowed Brutus to make a half hour game out of it. It's no wonder that I never get anything done!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The New Leash

When we adopted Brutus four weeks ago, the woman at the Midwest Animal Rescue highly recommended that we purchase a "Easy Walk Harness". This type of harness goes around the dogs chest and under their front legs. It really did make a huge difference in controlling the walking behavior of Brutus, but the other thing it did was cause irritation under his "arms". The fur didn't wear away, but his skin seemed irritated. We would always leave the house with it adjusted correctly, but it never seemed to stay in place.

So, we decided to go to a "Gentle Leader" type of harness. This type of harness goes over the nose and snaps on the back of the head just behind the ears, kind of forming a V shape on their head. It doesn't choke them on their neck at all, which is important because the typical choke chain can do terrible damage to a dogs esophagus, and it also allows them to still breathe normally and move their mouth. It's also known to be very good for training, and of course, BRUTUS HATES IT!!

We started out trying to just get it on him. It took a few treats to sneak it by him. Then we figured that once it was on and we were out walking, he wouldn't even notice it. He loves walking almost more than food, so he would be fine. Well, the first walk was hilarious and sad all at the same time. For the first three blocks, he kept doing somersaults and nose dives trying to get the harness off of his face. The harness gave me more control over his movements, so when he couldn't get to everything he wanted to, he would get upset and buck like a bronco. I'm sure that anyone driving by on the road thought that I had a totally out of control dog. Walk number two went a little better, but it was still a bit of a struggle to get it on him. I guess the moral of the story for Brutus is that life is a trade off. He always gets something good in the end. He just might look silly in the process!

The Great Escape

Saturday mornings I get a break from walking Brutus in the morning. Don's an early riser, so he and Brutus usually head out to enjoy the peace and quiet at the lake, so last Saturday was no different. The big difference was, Don came home with Brutus, yelled in that he was going to a fishing contest for a while, and would come back and pick Brutus up later to take him out on the lake with him. So, I didn't take Brutus for an afternoon walk.

I actually probably made things worse by walking around all day saying things like "you get to go fishing with dad!!" or "daddy will be here pretty soon". I swear these dogs know English. His little butt would wiggle like crazy. Well, it got to be one o'clock, then two o'clock, then three o'clock and before we knew it, it was four o'clock. Brutus was obviously not going out on the lake to play with dad. I was a little angry. Keeping Brutus entertained in the house is a bit of a chore. He is a constant companion, and he also isn't completely trust worthy yet, so I have to make sure I know where he is at all times. If he were on the lake with Don, Sheri would have some FREEDOM!! Woot woot! Don't get me wrong, I love the big guy, but it has been very comparable to having a very young toddler in the house for the last four weeks. Training an adolescent dog is just as hard as training a puppy.

So, when Don finally did get home, Brutus was sitting out on the front step waiting for him. Don got a ball out and was playing fetch with him. Brutus loves to play fetch, and we had kind of talked about trying to play a little fetch with him off leash because we couldn't imagine that he wouldn't retrieve his toy. So of course, I made the suggestion. What happened next should have been predictable, but it was so amazing to watch unfold. Just let me say that dogs have the ability to make reasonable decisions.

Don had thrown the ball down the drive way for the third time, and Brutus brought it back to him. He set the toy down, looked at Don, looked down the hill at the lake, looked at the toy, looked at Don again and BOLTED. I have to say that I wasn't completely surprised, although I was a little surprised. I have never seen a dog run like that. He ran like he had never had the freedom to run before. Thankfully, Don had his boots on. He grabbed Brutus's favorite squeaky toy, and off he went. Obviously he wasn't going to catch him, but at least he could try to keep him in sight. I was watching from the back of the house. Brutus ran through our back yard, out onto the lake, back up through all of our neighbors yards in the circle, and through the woods across from us. That was when Don decided to get the four wheeler out. He took the four wheeler down to the dirt road that leads to our homes, and pretty soon Brutus was coming back through the woods with Don behind him coming toward the house. I opened the door, hoping that Brutus would run right in the front door, but he fooled both of us and ran right past the house again. This time he took a left and headed down to run through every neighbors yard on the other side of us. Don left on his four wheeler again and drove all the way down to the dead end road and found Brutus tooling around at our friends Gary and Pam's. At this point, Don had had it. He turned around and started heading home. Don looked over his shoulder, and Brutus was chasing him. Brutus followed him all the way home and right into the garage. He was so pleased with himself. It took everything Don had to not blow up at him. He sat down and tried to talk to him like a person. I was cracking up. Here's Brutus sitting in the garage by Don's four wheeler, and I hear Don saying "buddy, you just can't run away like that".

We had a couple friends over for dinner that night, and I can honestly say that Brutus was very calm (exhausted)!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Proud Mom

This will be nothing more than a bragging post. I am so in love with this big boy. He was outside playing in the snow a little while ago, and he is in such a habit of needing a treat after every time he goes outside to go potty. No problem here. If he'll go outside, I will treat. He had had a LOT of exercise today, so I decided to give him a whole chicken breast treat instead of a little piece of one. He knows he has to "sit" for his treat, and he actually sat there the whole time I got the camera ready and took the picture of him, looking at this big piece of chicken the whole time. He didn't budge, but his eyes were definitely bulging!! He was so excited.

After all of that playing, and having a big treat, we crawled onto the bed for some rest time for Brutus, and computer time for mom.

It's been a good day. :)

As The Book Title Says, Everybody Poops

We don't have a fenced in yard, and we don't trust that Brutus won't get outside and go running after the neighborhood squirrels, so he has to be hooked onto a thirty foot run to go to the "bathroom". He's actually really good about it. He's only barked a couple times, and one time I opened the door and said "no barking Brutus", so he stopped barking and just kind of stood around the corner of the screened in porch and whined. I couldn't figure out what the problem was, so I went across the porch, and of course the snow that had blown into the porch in my stocking feet, and he had gotten his leash wrapped around the garden hose holder and couldn't get any closer than right around the outside of the entrance door. I felt so bad. Here he was trying to "not bark", but he was stuck. Anyway, short story long, he doesn't get much running time in the back yard, so we really feel it's important to walk him every day.

Yesterday, for the first time, I was absolutely pooped (pardon the punn) and I didn't walk him in the morning. I couldn't believe the difference in his behavior. He was just edgier all day. Then when Don got home, he had conference calls all night and didn't get to walk Brutus either. Then Brutus was mad. He went downstairs and peed on the tile floor right by the door where he usually goes out. Whenever Don would come out of the office between phone calls, Brutus would grab a toy and throw it to him. Don would play for a couple minutes, and then go back into the office. So then Brutus decided he would "need" to go outside every twenty minutes. Needless to say, it wasn't a fun day or night, and my lesson was learned. I MUST walk Brutus.

So, off we went this morning. He was so excited that he could hardly stand it. He had already gone potty and pooped, so I felt I was probably safe to not have to pick anything up along the trip, but I always take a plastic bag with anyway. I think that there have only been two times that I have had to pick anything up, and it has been nice and firm and not a big deal. Well, today Brutus got even for me not walking him yesterday. OH MY GOD!! We had barely gone two blocks, and he had the biggest yuckiest not firm poop that I have ever seen. If I wasn't conscientious, I would have covered it with a little snow and ran, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I was gagging as I picked it up, and then I had to carry it for forty-five more minutes. I raised three children and changed a lot of really bad diapers, and I think I would have taken all of those diapers back over this.

If Brutus was trying to get even with me for missing a day of walking, he certainly did. Brutus one, Sheri zero!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Finally Met My Sleep Mate

For those of you reading this that know me, you know that I love and NEED my sleep. A good 9-10 hours, and I'm very easy to live with. Less than that, and I start to drag. I know what you're thinking. Believe me, I know!

Well, when we first got Brutus, we were sure that he was going to need to get up to go potty right when Don got out of bed at 6:00 in the morning. To our surprise, he didn't move. Actually, he wouldn't move. At first, Don would pull him off of the bed to take him out, and Brutus would go down to the door and just stand there. Don figured he was saying "are you kidding me, it's cold out there". It was a "no go".

So, Don started waiting until 6:30 when he was done with his shower. Still no luck. Brutus was usually snoring, and had no intention of being pulled out of his slumber to pee. So then Don decided he would wait until 6:45 when he opened the garage door. That would usually stir Brutus, and he figured he could get him to go outside then. It worked for a couple days, and then Brutus got used to Don's work schedule, and didn't really care that he was leaving FOR work, coming home from work mattered to him much more. So Don gave up. What we have found is that Brutus also needs a good 9-10 hours of sleep. We both go to sleep at 10:00 PM, and we're both content to wake up at 8:00 AM. Now the only battle is who gets to pee first. I know, too much information!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is It Elephants or Dogs That Have The Greatest Memory?

This morning I had to take Brutus in to get his booster shots. I figured it would be a quick in and out appointment, so I didn't even take my coat off. We checked in with the receptionist and headed to the doggy scale. Brutus wouldn't budge. I thought that was strange the first time we went to the vet, but "whatever". I lifted his butt up on the scale. He's only gained one pound since we've had him, and the vet was very pleased with that. Then we were off to the exam room. Brutus laid down and played dead. I mean seriously dead. It took the vet tech and myself to drag him, literally, into the exam room. It was the same vet tech from our last visit, and she remembered Brutus, WELL. Hmmm. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

Anyway, we got him into the room, and she tried to give him a treat to loosen him up a little bit, but he wasn't opening his mouth for anything. We are talking total two year old behavior here. This is a boy who would eat a piece of paper if you let him! So, after answering a few questions that I had, it was temperature taking time. I still had my coat on, thinking that a quick temperature and three shots shouldn't take more than five minutes. She came at Brutus with the thermometer, lifted his tail, barely, and Brutus had a melt down. He started bucking like a bronco and flipping out. I had been holding him really tight, and he even got away from me, and she hadn't even gotten near his butt yet. This was not good. She decided to go get the vet to see what the plan would be.

The vet comes in "trying" to be very cheery and sweet, but I could tell that she was a little apprehensive, which means Brutus could certainly tell. The doctor got down on the floor and played with him a little bit, and kept trying to pet him closer and closer to his bottom. Brutus started to growl at her. This was not good. Off came the coat. I offered to get on the floor with them, because frankly, at this point I was covered in fur anyway, but she thought it might be best to take him in back and do his shots. She was going to forgo the temperature for today so that he wouldn't be completely traumatized and never be willing to come back. Can anyone say "too late"??

The tech brought him back about three minutes later, shots done, or so I thought, and said that they needed to muzzle him, but then he calmed right down. Then she actually said the following words to me. "We were out of one of the boosters, but the delivery should be here in about an hour. Can you bring him back after lunch?". OH......MY......God!!! Was she kidding me? Nope. She wasn't. So now I am sitting here looking at Brutus wondering how I'm ever going to get him through that door again, on the same day. Ugh. If only he could just forget.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Brutus's Foster Family

Today, Joan, Brutus's Foster Mom, sent me some pictures that she had taken during the time that Brutus was being fostered at her home. They are so fun. I have to say that in an earlier post, I had Kobie's name wrong. I called him Cody. I am horrible with names, and I am sure that with all of the excitement of Brutus's first visit to our home, I didn't hear correctly either, so I am sorry Kobie!!

I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Joan, and all of the wonderful people out there that are willing to foster these wonderful animals. Some of the dogs and cats are ready to go into homes when they are rescued, but many of them have behavior and security issues that need some work before they are "adoptable". Otherwise, the chance of them going right back to the shelter is pretty great. Brutus is a very mild mannered and loving guy, so he didn't need much work, but I have heard of animals that have come from puppy mills that have had literally no human contact, and there are foster parents out there that will spend months working with them to teach them how to accept love. What's even more amazing is that after they spend all of that time working with the animal, they are able to let them go, and then they start all over again with another animal in need. I would be a huge foster failure. I could love the animals to pieces, but I would never be able to let them go. I wouldn't be able to make that disconnect, so my hat goes off to all of you wonderful people out there!!

So anyway, in the pictures are Brutus and Eva, his human foster sister, Brutus and Sophie, his canine foster sister, and Brutus and Kobie, his human foster brother. Brutus and Kobie had quite the little bond going. Kobie was very brave the day that we came to pick Brutus up. I was so proud of him. Brutus went tearing out to our car, and really didn't give Kobie a fair chance to say goodbye, so we made sure that Kobie was able to come over to the car and give him one last big hug before we left, and we keep in touch with the foster family. The foster mom, Joan, also runs a daycare center with fourteen children. That in and of itself told me that Brutus must be a very gentle soul. And he is!!

Thank you again Joan. The pictures are great, and so are you!!

Come Back Up

Last night, Princess decided again that she was going to sleep on the bed. I'm so thrilled by this. She is older, and a little fragile, and has every reason to be scared of a sixty-five pound love bug, but she has made her statement and is sticking to it.

This morning, she was laying on my stomach snoozing, and Brutus was laying by my side. He had slept in his dog bed last night without even being told to (Yay!!) but the minute Don gets out of bed in the morning, Brutus snuggles right up by my side ON the bed. So, the two of them were sleeping with me. At some point, Brutus decided that he wanted to lay his head closer to Princess. I was watching this whole process happening, and thought it was very sweet. He would move his paws forward a little, and then inch his body along until his head was closer to her. By this time, Princess was awake, and for the most part she was taking it. Their heads were almost touching when Brutus decided to do his "you gotta love me and rub my belly" roll, not realizing that for one thing, Princess doesn't have big hands to rub his belly, and for another, in the process of rolling over, he laid his head on her. She jumped off the bed, he jumped up in surprise, and I sat there laughing.

Princess was on the floor looking at him like "what in the hell was that?", and he was on the bed looking down at her like "awe, come on back up, I didn't mean it".

As I type this, Brutus is back sleeping on my left side, and Princess is sleeping on my lap. Someday she will love him. He's trying so hard.