Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Brutus and Libby "The Dog Whisperer"

Today was another doggy school day, and I had mentioned to Libby that I wanted to take a picture of her with Brutus for my blog, and she kindly obliged. Always the teacher, she decided she would work with Brutus on "watching her" for his treat instead of just standing there posing, so work away they did.

On a side note, Brutus did try his little escape trick again today when we were practicing "come", but today I was prepared. He was hooked up to a twenty foot leash, and I had directions from Libby to yell "NO" and then "Come", and reward him greatly if he listened, and he actually did. I definitely got a couple funny looks from the customers shopping in the store when I started yelling at him, but by the end of the half hour exercise, he had given up on trying to escape through those magic glass doors!

Next week is our last session for this class, but I think I will definitely be signing Brutus up for another session of some sort with Libby. He has started to learn a lot, but he still has a long way to go, and we have really enjoyed the camaraderie of the moms and dogs, and especially Libby! She is a gem. :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Brutus Thinks He Has Super Powers "LOL"

So I have been feeling really bad since Brutus escaped from doggy class and ran down the frontage road of a major freeway, and then tried to jump through the second story window of our bedroom. I took both incidents very personally, feeling like he just wasn't liking me enough to stick around. I mean seriously, you really have to want to get away if you try to jump through a closed second story window.

Then something happened that changed my perspective completely. I took Brutus downstairs to go to the bathroom, to the glass patio doors, and he tried to run right through them, and everything became very clear. We have been going to PetSmart at least once, and usually twice a week for the last two months, and the glass doors magically open every time he runs at them. How much do you want to bet that he just wanted to go outside, and expected the window, as well as the doors downstairs to just open? He's certainly had enough continual reinforcement to think that they should!

If nothing else, it makes me feel a whole lot better than thinking that he's just that desperate to get away from me. Whew. I'll have to get him a "Super Dog" cape!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

All Of The Immediate Family Has Been Met

The last sibling in the family waiting to meet Brutus was his big human brother Nick. Nick flew in from Columbus, Ohio, last Friday and has spent the week getting to know the big goof ball, and I think that with all of the kids being home at various times during the last two weeks, Brutus has been an extra big goof ball.

Nick has never been a big dog lover. It may stem all the way back to being bit in the back by a neighbor's dog when he was little, and it could just be that he was raised with a house full of cats, and us cat lovers can be a little different breed!! Some of the dogs that Nick has been around tend to be crotch sniffers and jumpers, and honestly, it gets annoying. We also are not fond of "yappers" in this house, so even though Brutus isn't typically any of those things, I was a little nervous about the two of them meeting, and getting along. Thankfully, I didn't need to be worried.

Brutus has a way of charming people, and he worked his magic on Nick. By the middle of Nick's visit, Brutus had convinced Nick that it would be in his best interest to take him for very long walks, to rub his belly, and to give him treats. It got to the point that if Nick was gone for the evening, Brutus would lay down on the rug and wait for him.

We have had a baby gate on Nick's bedroom door so the cats can have one room where they can go and get some sunshine without being afraid, so Brutus hasn't actually been able to get into Nick's room. This hasn't made him very happy. He would love nothing more than to jump up on his bed and snuggle up with him, but it isn't going to happen. One night during Nick's visit, Nick spent the night at his friend Jason's house. Jason was moving into a new home the next day, and Nick wanted to be there and ready to help him with the move. Brutus was a mess. He would go down and look in Nick's room, and he could see that his things were still there, but when he went to the entry way, his shoes would be gone. If you remember from previous posts, Brutus is fearful of the basement, but that night he slept downstairs on the futon waiting for Nick. I couldn't believe it. He woke me up at 5:30 in the morning, which he had never done, so I let him outside, but he went right back to the futon after doing is route to check to see if Nick was home. Again, I'm not sure what will happen after Nick leaves. This will be the last child to go home after spring breaks, and Brutus will be back to just me during the day. When I think back to the first time that Brutus was left with just me during the day, I have visions of a shredded pillow, and white fluff flying everywhere. Let's hope that he has moved beyond that!!

In the meantime, other than trying to run away from me during doggy school, and trying to jump out a closed second story window, I think he is doing pretty well! At this point in the paragraph, I have to insert a "laugh out loud" because if I put too much thought into it, I will cry. I tend to go to the dark side and think that he isn't happy being here, and would rather jump out a window than be with me, so I'm trying to not go there.

I know that dogs have a great sense of direction, so Nick, if he ends up at your door in Ohio, you know that he just loves you that much and you will need to become a dog person. ;)

I'm Starting To Get A Complex

I am starting to think that Brutus doesn't like me. It started with his great escape from doggy class. I'm not quite narcissistic enough to think that I was the reason he had chosen to dodge out the door to run with four lanes of busy traffic, but after last night I'm beginning to wonder.

Don and I were laying in bed watching the news after he had gotten home from work. Brutus had spent some time on the bed getting belly rubs and chewing on a bone, but all of a sudden he took a running leap and tried to jump out of the bedroom window. What the hell??? Thank goodness it was closed. He kind of bounced off from it and went back to lay down and continue what he had been doing before.

Now I am getting a bad complex about whether or not he actually wants to live with us. I know that if I was willing to jump out of a second story window to get away, it would tell a pretty big story, but are dog stories the same as people stories? Hmmmm.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cause to Drink Before Noon!

Today was doggy school day, and everything was going just fine. I have really been enjoying class. It's a lovely group of women, a great, diverse group of dogs, and Libby the teacher is awesome. I really wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary today. I was way beyond wrong!

Libby wanted to cover not only the importance of the command "come", but the different ways to teach it so that our dogs think that when we say it, we are totally worth coming back to. It's kind of ironic that that would be today's lesson, because Brutus failed miserably!

In order to do this exercise, we had to drop their leashes at the end of the aisle in the store, have them "wait", and then call them to come to us and give them great rewards (food based) and hugs and loving. Brutus had done it twice, and it was going fine. The third time when he was at the end of the aisle, he caught a glimpse of the front door, and in what seemed like seconds, I could see his doggy brain calculate that he was a fair distance from me, he could see the doors that he knew opened whenever he walked in front of them, and if he ran, he would be FREE! So, off he went. I ran after him yelling "come", Libby the teacher ran after me running after him yelling "Brutus COME", and a male worker at PetSmart did the same thing. By the time that I got out of the store and around the corner of the building, Brutus was over a city block away and headed toward the frontage road to the freeway, most likely heading to our home. He was running along the edge of the road, so cars were starting to slow down and stop in case he flew out into the road, so they wouldn't hit him. I was panicked. I turned around and ran back into the class room to grab my purse and keys to get in my car and go after him, and my class moms graciously offered to help too, but I just said that I needed to run. By the time that I got back out to the parking lot and was just going to get in my car, a little red sports car came around the corner of the road honking it's horn at me, and there was Brutus in the front seat. The relief that I felt was so incredibly overwhelming. He pulled up to me in his brand new little car with black leather seats (I'm dying at this point thinking about claw marks on his leather) and said that he had seen Brutus run from the parking lot and caught him heading down the frontage road. I was so thankful. I wanted to hug him to pieces, but I managed to keep my whits about me, thank him profusely and calm myself down a little bit once Brutus was back safely in my arms. At that point I was in such mixed emotions between being so upset and so relieved that I just wanted to get in my car and go home and "die", but I knew that I owed it to the wonderful women in class to go back in and let them know that Brutus was safe.

Libby said that she had actually looked up my address and was going to get in her car and head that way and take Lou's mom with her. Lou is a big poodle that is in class, and Brutus has a raging crush on his mom. Not the dog, but the mom. She is very pretty, and very sweet, and as soon as Brutus sees her he wants to hug her and give her kisses. He hasn't reacted that way with any other moms in the class, which is kind of funny. He's very drawn to her. Thankfully, the trip wasn't necessary. Everyone was very relieved that Brutus was safe and sound.

Brutus will be working on his "come" commands on a long leash from now on. I don't trust that little stinker as far as I can spit. He's too smart for his own good, and apparently likes to ditch class.

Nick is still home for spring break. When I got home from class I poured myself a cosmopolitan, made a mini pizza and ate some girl scout cookies. He remarked that I had probably covered all of my necessary comforts to take care of the stress that I had felt that morning. Now all I want is a nap!!

Monday, March 22, 2010


It has been one busy week in Brutus land. With Ashley here all week, it meant that Brutus got a lot of extra loving, but he also had to deal with being crated a lot more. The girls had shopping to do, and canine boys were not invited along!! There were some pretty sad faces made. It got to the point where if I was showering and getting dressed, he would start to get nervous, and if I asked him if he needed to go potty, when he came in he would run as fast as he could past his crate so he wouldn't get put in there. Definitely not a fan of the crate. At least when he's in there he seems to sit quietly after a few minutes. If he was crying and barking the whole time it would be a nightmare.

On Friday Nick flew in from Ohio, and I took Brutus with to the airport. Goofy idea on my part. He had never met Nick before, and he was way too exited. Poor Nick was covered with fur by the time we got home, but thankfully he was a good sport about it. Brutus has found another big brother that he adores. Nick has been working with him to "lay down", which is a command that we have been having a horrible time with, and Brutus is getting pretty good at it. I might have to pay him training fees. Nick normally walks a few miles a day, so I was pretty excited about having a walking break too, but the night before Nick came home for spring break he was hit by a car when he was walking to his apartment, and his ankle is pretty sore, so no break for Brutus's lazy mom!! On a bright note, Nick is OK. The driver took off, which is so scary. I really don't understand human nature. I guess that's why I'm such an animal lover.

Andrew and Karri also came home on Friday night to spend the weekend, and once again, Brutus was all over Karri. Karri is a very petite girl, so Brutus standing up to hug her can be overwhelming. Maybe it's that they're kindred red heads. Actually, I think it's probably because Karri is very pretty and smells good and Brutus just loves her. With all of the people around, Brutus was pretty wound up by the end of the night, so Andrew took him for a power run. Andrew would be the only person in the house that would think running is fun, and Brutus seemed to think it was pretty cool too. You will never ever ever see a post from me saying that I took Brutus for a run. The only way that would happen is if the leash was wrapped around me and he took off after a squirrel and he was dragging me after him!! Just not gonna happen!

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera out all weekend. I get around all of the kids, and don't take pictures. I am normally on the annoying level with my camera, so I will get some pictures of Nick with Brutus and get them posted on here. I took a picture of Andrew and Karri with Brutus when they were leaving. Brutus thought it might be a good idea to go home with them, but once they were gone he settled in and watched a movie with me. Nick went to a friends house for the night, and Brutus was very worried about him. It amazes me how smart dogs are. He would go down to Nick's bedroom and see that his things were still there, and then he would go to the entryway and smell for him and know that his shoes were gone, so he would lay down by the door and wait. He finally came to bed and stayed there, but when Nick opened the door this morning, he flew down those stairs so fast to greet him that I don't think his paws even touched the steps!!

Next week when it's back to just Don and I, Brutus is going to be a puddle on the floor. :(

Monday, March 15, 2010

Brutus Is In LOVE!

The day that we adopted Brutus, Ashley was with me when I went to pick him up at Joan's house. She was home for two more days, and then she had to leave to go back to college. Brutus was devastated when she left, to the point that before I had washed Ashley's bedding, Brutus got up on her bed, smelled her pillow and marked the wall above her pillow. He was basically saying "I know she was here, and she is mine"!!

Well, Ashley is home on spring break, and trust me, Brutus did NOT forget her. Ash drove to the lake, and Brutus was out on his tie when she got there. At first he just walked over to her car, but after she opened the door and said "hello", all hell broke loose! He literally jumped in her car, knocked her over so she was laying in the front seat and smooched her uncontrollably. I had heard Ashley pull in, so I went out and tried to call him off, and he did get out of her car for a minute, but it was like he just couldn't stand it. He turned around and jumped right back in and started kissing her all over again. It really was adorable. Ashley was sure that we still didn't have any control over him, but he was just that excited. Since then, she has seen how much he has calmed down over the last two months, and what a little cuddle bug he is.

The first night, we went to bed and Brutus didn't follow us. We couldn't believe it. He went down, plopped on Ashley's bed and that was where he was staying. We had brought all three cats along too so Ashley could have her snuggle time with them, but Brutus wasn't having it. If one of them got on the bed to be by Ashley, Brutus got closer to Ashley. He was acting like a jealous child. He slept with some body part draped over her all night.

On Saturday Brutus kind of followed her around and had lots of kisses, and needed lots of belly rubs. On Sunday morning, Ashley left at 7:00 AM to head back to the cities to have breakfast with a friend who was leaving town. Brutus saw her leave, and he spent the rest of the day, until 5:00 PM sitting on the front step of the lake house looking at her parking spot. It was really pathetic. He was heart broken.

Now we're all back together in the cities, and Brutus has calmed down a little bit and is sharing the love. He was back to sleeping with us last night, and Ashley got to snuggle up with her kitties. Brutus and I went for a nice big walk this morning, and we all get to enjoy Ashley for the rest of the week. We aren't even going to go to what it's going to be like when she leaves for Kansas again.

For now.......Life is GOOD!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thunder Anyone?

You know that crate that Brutus hates so much? Well today he couldn't get there fast enough. We woke up to rain and thunderstorms, and Brutus is definitely not a fan. There was one big boom, and he was off the bed and gone before I could say "good morning". I thought he probably had to go to the bathroom, so I went tearing after him down the stairs, but he was in his crate. Keep in mind that the last time he goes to the bathroom at night is around 9:30, and he usually gets up around 8:00 in the morning to go outside. Today he held it until almost 11:00. That can't be good for him.

If you have read any prior posts, you'll remember that Brutus is not a fan of his crate. I have gone so far to say that it was probably used as a form of punishment. He will cry and fuss and howl, and basically run away if he even thinks he is headed that way. So, finding him tucked way in the back of his crate came as quite a surprise to me. It also got me thinking about a couple of things.

First, it was actually a good thing. It means that he feels safe within the confinement of his crate. We always leave the door open, so it's good to know that if he's uncomfortable, that's where he will go. We still have all of the spring and summer storms, as well as the fourth of July to get through, so I'm guessing there will be a few more visits.

Second, what in the heck has happened to this dog in his short life? We had to quit the first dog class we went to because a construction worker used a nail gun, and Brutus completely shut down. No matter what we did, he remembered the parking lot, the building and the instructor, and would shut down before the class would start even when the construction was over. Thank goodness we have found Libby!! She has been such a good teacher and confidence builder for both Brutus and myself as a dog owner. Where was she when I was trying to raise my children! Anyway, I regress. When something like this happens, like the thunder sending him into his crate, I just have to wonder. Did someone buy him as a pup with the intention of him being a hunting dog, which is very common for labs, and he failed? Was he in a situation where he was abused, or shot at?

My childhood dog Oscar had been shot and was laying in a ditch dying when my dad found him. He was always afraid of thunderstorms, and that was the only time my mom would let him in the house. He was only allowed to come in the entryway of the house, but I would grab my blanket and sleep with him to keep him calm. My heart broke for him then, and I was no older than four or five, so my curiosity and compassion for animals started at a very young age. Oscar was the best dog ever. He did everything with me, and I loved him like a very best friend. He went to his grave with all of my secrets whispered lovingly in his ear. He never told a soul. :)

So anyway, every now and then during the day today, Brutus would come out of his crate and come to me for reassurance, or to eat a little food or to go out to go potty, but for the most part, he wasn't a very happy boy today. To add insult to injury, he walks out through a screened in porch to the yard, and the rain on the top deck sounds like little B.B.s coming down. He didn't like that either.

Hopefully with love and trust, he will come around. If not, we will do our best to make him feel safe. Let's hope for a sunny day tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Don Is A Big Softie!

When we first brought Brutus home, it had been predetermined that he would be allowed to snuggle up with us for a little while on the bed, but then it was going to be "to the dog bed" for him. It went pretty well that first week. Actually, all I had to do was lay the little water bottle (which I've only used twice) on the end of the bed, and Brutus wouldn't even question it. He would curl up and go to sleep. Then we slowly started to be less tough about it, so we would say things like "oh, he had kind of a tough day, why don't we just let him sleep on the bed" kind of thing. Then, how do you do that one night, and threaten him with a water bottle the next? Talk about mixed messages, and really bad dog parenting on our part!!

So, here is Brutus's favorite place to sleep. Right next to his dad. I would prefer that he sleep next to me because I am always cold, and I miss having the kitties sleeping on the bed with me, but instead, he chooses to sleep next to Don who can't stand to have anything touch him while he's sleeping. Go figure. Funny thing is, Don has only fussed about it a little. What can he really say!

Friday, March 5, 2010

We Have A Third Cat?

Well, it's pretty apparent in this house that Brutus went to the lake with Dad for the weekend. It took about two hours of peace and quiet in the house, but one by one all of the girls came out. I have posted pictures on the blog before that have included our oldest girl Princess, and our youngest girl Sophie, but our middle girl Bernice has been hiding in the furnace room every day since Brutus moved in. The only time she comes out and roams the house is at night after Brutus goes to bed. Thankfully, Brutus loves to sleep, goes to bed early, and is a very heavy sleeper, so the cats can pretty much tool around the house at night without him wanting to join in the fun. I just miss them. They have always been my girls, and as much as I am in love with Brutus, I had no intention of replacing the love I have for the cats.

So, let me introduce you to Bernice. She is on my lap in this picture, so it's a little closer than I would have liked, but she was very snugly, and there was absolutely no way that I was going to move her. I hadn't gotten to snuggle with her in almost seven weeks. I was going to enjoy every single minute!

I will be very anxious to hear how Don's "boy" weekend goes. I am laughing a little just thinking about it. I'm not sure that Don realizes what a toddler he is, but we shall see!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Boy Can Tell Time

So Brutus has learned to tell time. Well, technically, not really, but I realized that for the first time since we adopted him almost two months ago, tonight was the first night that Don wasn't home within his normal time after work, and Brutus noticed big time. Don had a business meeting dinner to go to, and didn't get home until 9:00, which is a good three and a half hours past ear scratching, belly rubbing and walk around the neighborhood with dad time in Brutus world.

First Brutus sat in the entryway by the door to the garage. Then he would come up into the bedroom and look out the bedroom window. Then back to the entryway. After about an hour of this, he started going outside in the back to go potty about every half hour. I came to realize that he probably didn't really need to go to the bathroom, but dad might be hiding out in the back yard. Then it was back to repeating steps one and two.

When Don finally did get home, Brutus had so much loving for him. He needed Don to lay down on the bed so he could just lay his head in the crook of his arm and snuggle. Then they had to play a little tug of war before he settled in and went to sleep.

Don's going to the lake this weekend, and I'm staying home. We're having a very hard time trying to decide which parent should have Brutus. We both love having him, but he LOVES it at the lake. He'll have some separation anxiety either way. I guess we'll just have to see what happens. Stay tuned.........

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Peta?? Where?

Today after doggy class, we started our "therapy" sessions to conquer Brutus's fear of the vet. I'm not convinced that this is going to work, but Libby, Brutus's teacher is pretty confidant that there is hope, so I'm game. I can't even imagine what has happened in his past to make him so scared of the vet. It's crazy!

So anyway, we got done with doggy class, and Libby walked with me over to the veterinarian's main desk and told the girls that we were there to work on getting comfortable and to have some cookies. Sounded good to me. The receptionist told us which exam room was empty that we could use, so in we went. I think that Libby was a little surprised at the visceral reaction Brutus had. Besides fighting to NOT go into the exam room, he started to tremble. I felt so bad for him. Libby has a very calming, almost commanding voice with dogs, and she was able to get Brutus in the room, but she decided almost immediately that it would be best if none of the staff came in. She wanted me to sit on the floor and massage him and talk to him until he quit shaking and was willing to eat his chicken breast treats. Then we could go. She had the next puppy class waiting for her, so she had to go back to her class.

Brutus and I sat in that room for thirty minutes. He was so scared that he sat on my lap on the floor the whole time, shaking. Libby had put a shopping cart in front of the door so no one would come in, and we just sat, and I massaged him and talked softly to him. He finally calmed down, and when he was willing to take the treat willingly, I decided we could go home.

When I went to doggy class in the morning, I was wearing blue jeans and a medium blue sweat shirt. When I left the building, I think I was wearing more fur than Brutus. I had to chuckle a little because I got some very strange looks. I was literally covered in fur. At least we sped up the whole shedding his winter coat process. Oy vey! I'm glad Peta wasn't around the corner. I would have been wearing red paint.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's Beautiful Outside!

It is so gorgeous outside. You have to put things into perspective when I say that. We live in Minnesota, and it has been cold since......well, God knows when! Today when Brutus and I walked outside, I was actually able to wear a heavy sweatshirt and mittens instead of my heavy winter coat. It felt awesome! That means that it's above thirty degrees! I remember when Don and I were first married about twenty five years ago, we went to Florida for a few days to see his friend Richard. It was sixty degrees outside, and I sat out in the sun in my swimsuit. The Floridians had on winter coats and thought I was nuts. Like I said, you have to put things in to perspective.

Anyway, about two years ago, Bloomington finished off some really beautiful walking trails. Prior to having a dog, I hadn't really checked them out. I have slowly been expanding our morning walks and checking some of them out. They are incredible. I can't wait to see how pretty they are in the summer. They kind of wind around the back side of our neighborhood, along the highway, and through a nature center. You would never know that there's a highway along there. They did a really good job of putting up fencing and planting trees. It's nice to have something to look at other than houses.

Here's the issue. Neither Brutus or I have seen the new sites, so neither one of us is paying attention to where we're going. The pathways are plenty big, so you don't have to worry about running into any "thing". I just have to worry about running into Brutus! I had my head up in the air looking at a pond this morning, and he had his sites on a squirrel that was on the opposite side of me than I thought he was, and I walked right into him and fell on my behind. When I started falling I was sure that I would lose my grip on him, so I yelled "STOP", but he just looked at me like I was nuts, and went on looking for the squirrel that was chirping up in the tree. I sat there and assessed the situation, decided the only damage was a wet butt, and got up.

It's times like this that I picture all of the little forest creatures can talk like they did in the Disney movies. Can't you just hear Thumper's little voice, "look mama, that crazy lady fell over her dog!". Yeah, I know, there are times when my mind travels a little further than it should!

Other than feeling like an idiot, it was a great walk today, and I'm very glad that there weren't any humans out there to laugh at me!!