Monday, April 26, 2010

A Dog Is A Dog Is A Dog

Last week my good friend Sandra told me to remember that any behavior that Brutus does is "normal" dog behavior. The behavior that I "want" Brutus to have is not necessarily normal dog behavior, but hopefully trainable dog behavior. Uh, yeah.

My conversation with Sandra came about because Brutus has become absolutely obsessed with chipmunks, literally to the point of hyperventilating. While I'm typing this, he's in his crate having a "time out" trying to catch his breath.

Last Thursday he had been outside literally all morning pacing and perched to get that darn chipmunk, and it was warm out, so I called him in to have a drink and cool down for a few minutes. Plus, we had walked in the morning, so he had had a pretty busy day. I was vacuuming the steps, and after about thirty seconds, he wanted out AGAIN. I told him to "wait". He looked at me, walked over and marked the corner of the love seat (that poor love seat) and walked back to the front door. I took this as typical toddler behavior, and NAUGHTY!! My friend Sandra tried to calm me down and tell me that maybe he had been outside for hours, but maybe he had been so caught up in watching the chipmunks that he hadn't gone to the bathroom, and really had to go. Hmmm. I'm still undecided on that one, but I can tell you that I am the most grateful for my Bissell carpet shampooer. I don't know what I would have done without that dark blue baby. Needless to say, Brutus went back outside, and I not only vacuumed, but I also had to clean the love seat. Ugh.

On with the "normal" dog behavior, and WARNING, this is not child appropriate. Anytime you adopt a dog, a prerequisite is that they have to be spayed or neutered, and I can guarantee that Brutus's little nuggets are gone. Since I (in my adult life) have not been a dog owner, I figured this meant no sex for Brutus, which I was perfectly good with! So, last night I was sitting in my room watching T.V., and I hear Brutus yelp. What's in my driveway, but Brutus and Kiera, the neighbors new American Bulldog, who just happens to be in heat, stuck butt to butt. My first thought was "what the hell", and my second thought was "how in the hell did they do that?". (I did figure that out later after some googling). I am claiming molestation on her part. Brutus was leashed in his driveway, probably looking for his chipmunks, and along came Kiera with her hot little behind, and before Brutus knew what was happening, he was "hooked". Every pun intended!!

While I'm out there trying to figure out what to do, I hear Bennie calling for Kiera. Oh, this is gonna be good. I yelled back that she was at my house stuck to my dog. "Yeah right" he yells back. He came around the corner and couldn't believe it either. "Isn't he fixed?" he asked. Same thing that I'm thinking. We all learned a lot last night. Just because a male dog is neutered doesn't mean they can't "do it". It's no different than humans. Apparently it should eliminate their desire to go looking for it, and as his mother, I can say that when you're tied in your driveway, you probably aren't out looking for it, but it sure in the heck doesn't eliminate any ability they may have to do the duty. So the poor things were stuck together for a good five minutes. From what I read, it could have been a lot worse. Apparently when actual mating is going on, it can last up to thirty minutes. And as for the butt to butt thing, once he was "done", he turned around to leave, but was stuck. No wonder he was yelping. Not exactly a normal position for things to happen. This is when I wish I spoke Yiddish or some other awesome language so I could end this paragraph with a really good chutzpah or something!!

The pictures today are of the damage to the (to be replaced) siding that Brutus dented trying to get to the chippies under the cement, the dirt exit whole on the other side of the front of the house that they have dug to escape from, and yet another nest that he just found today in the garage. The corner of the garage is blocked in with boards and insulation, but he found a nest, and sure enough, when I went over there to see what he was fussing about, a big chipmunk went running across the shelving that you see and behind the wall. He has a nose like nobody knows!! And, by the way, we really don't have that many containers of cat litter just hanging out in the garage!! They are just a great way to store grass seed and drive way salt, and all of those things that we don't want left out in a bag. :)

So, to my friend Sandra, if Brutus is just being a dog, and he probably is, I love you for completely understanding him and calming me down. To me, get him back to school, and proceed with caution if you hear him "yelp" when he is in the driveway. I saw way more than I ever want to see again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Have A Boy

I have a boy. Did any of you know that?? I'm sure that many of you are saying, "Sheri, you raised two boys", and all of those who are saying that know that they were full blooded, frogs and snails and puppy dog tail boys.

But this one is different. This one has taken me completely by surprise.

When we started looking/talking about getting a dog, we were thinking that a girl dog would be nice. In our heads, we had girl dogs pegged as being a little milder, and we definitely knew they wouldn't be lifting their leg on the furniture. Then somehow, this boy found his way into our hearts, and it's just amazing how much testosterone he has (even though the little nuggets are gone). Now anyone out there with a girl dog can certainly correct me, or tell me that their behavior is no different. Actually, it might make me feel a little better. Not that I would trade Brutus for the world, because seriously, you'd have to kill me for him, but here is today's adventure.

It is to die for gorgeous outside, so this afternoon we went for our usual walk. About one mile into the walk, I'm regretting that I didn't have a bottle of water for me, and also for Brutus. I made a mental note that from now on, no matter what the temperature is, the sun is hot enough that a bottle of water is a must. So we're "tooting along" as his teacher Libby would say, and he is feeling the need to go into the banks where the long grass is to mark EVERYTHING. I could care less that he's peeing on things outside. All the better, but I know now that every time he walks into the tall grass, he's going to come out with at least five wood ticks, and I stated in an earlier post how I feel about wood ticks. NOT GOOD! You can be pretty sure that if I didn't think to bring with water, I certainly didn't pack my traveling tweezers! After his fourth time peeing, I decide that there is just no way that I can possibly wait until we get home to start taking the creepy crawlers off, so I have to start doing it by hand. If anyone was hiding in the woods watching me, I'm sure there were some "city girl" jokes made.

We finished out the two and a half miles, and a nice cool drink, and I decided I would take him down to let him swim again. I didn't take my camera with me because I had already taken pictures yesterday of him swimming, and didn't feel the need to cover that one again. Oops. We get down there, and his non-testosterone producing body decided to act like Al Bundy from Married with Children for the afternoon.

First he jumped in the water and took a nice swim, and I thought "great, he's cooling down". Then he gets out of the water, walks right to the edge of the dock, holds his butt so it's just over the dirt and poops. After he poops, he scratches his feet back in the dirt like "yep, I'm the man". Then he jumps back in, and right back out again. This time he runs up on the bank and rolls around in the dirt until he is literally covered from head to toe in dirt and pine needles. Again, more wood ticks. I'm dying. Back in the water, then up on the bank to pee and roll around some more. That's it. My girl power has had enough of this behavior. I don't care if he's having fun or not, I'm grossed out, and he's done. I pushed him in the lake to try to rinse off a little dirt, and back up to the drive-way we went. At this point I wasn't even sure what to do. I couldn't let him in the house like he was, so I either needed to let him dry out a little bit, or take the hose to him. Even I'm not mean enough to take an ice cold hose to a dog, so dry out it was.

Then it was bath time. He was mad. I called him in through the garage where I can corner him into the guest bathroom bath tub, and right away he knew what was going on. I actually had to lift all seventy five pounds of him into the tub. I was about to deflate all of his fun, and he knew it.

In the pictures above, you'll notice in one how dirty the bath water is, and in the other, hold on for this, it's the grime after he's out of the tub, and the little black dots are bugs. Yep, those creepy crawling little wood ticks. Anybody's skin crawling yet?

My boy now smells like vanilla and oatmeal, and he won't be going anywhere near the woods or tall grass until I am well awake and refreshed tomorrow, because this girl has had it for the day!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ah, Lovin The Lake

Don is back in the cities at work today, and this time when he left, he snuck out. Brutus looked everywhere for him, but there wasn't that traumatic crying like last Sunday night....and Monday morning and Monday afternoon, and you get the point. He isn't nearly as happy when his Dad isn't here because Don is outside all of the time and I'm not, but I guess if he doesn't actually see him leave, he can survive. Whew!

Now that the weekend is over, the weather couldn't be more beautiful. The sun is out, the wind has all but gone away, and the temperature is in the seventies. I had done some book work this morning to the point that my neck was hurting, so it was Brutus walking time. The best part was that I got a nice kick in the butt part way through my walk. I was going to cheat and do a little walk, but my friend Pam came home from work (early) and wanted to join us. She was going to go home and take a nap, so I guess we motivated each other. We get talking and actually forget that we're even exercising, and about two and a half miles later, we were feeling pretty good, but Brutus was looking a little over heated. I decided I would be a nice mom and let him take a little dip in the lake. It was awesome.

At first I don't think that he thought I was for real. It's usually Dad that does these fun things, but I headed down there with a toy, the long leash, a bottle of water for me and my camera, and plopped my butt on the deck and let him play. I didn't really think the toy thing through. He played with it for a while, and than his ADDD (attention doggy deficit disorder) clicked in and he saw some chipmunks running around on the shore, and the toy floated away. Oh well. I guess it was worth the fun time he had. Note to self, only take toys down that have strings attached. Now I see the point in the new water toys that Don brought last weekend, and why he needed to tie ropes onto them. My "aha" moment.

One other tidbit. Brutus's ears (on the inside) are covered with gnat bites. Here's a hint that I got from a neighbor, which seems to actually work, and is user friendly for the dog. Tuck a dryer sheet in the back of their collar. There is something in the dryer sheet that seems to repel the gnats. I feel so bad for Brutus. I cleaned his ears with ear cleaner after he was in the lake, which is a must for the lab breed because their ears fold over and don't dry out well on their own, and then I put some hydrocortisone cream with aloe on his bites. He isn't scratching at them quite as much.

Have a great doggy day!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How Many Ways Can We Say "Naughty"

I had to wait a day to write this entry, mainly to compose myself and leave out the many many swear words that would have taken up space in many of the lines. Brutus was very naughty yesterday morning, there are just no two ways about it.

It started, admittedly, with an error on my part. Brutus woke up a little earlier than usual, and I got up to let him out to go to the bathroom. When I hooked him up to his outdoor tie, I hooked it onto the ring that holds his rabies and city tags instead of the heavy duty ring on his collar. My mistake, and a big one at that. After I hooked him up and let him out the door, I went downstairs to feed the cats. While I was feeding the cats, I heard this loud bang and a sliding noise. At first it startled me, but I figured it was just Brutus jumping off the steps upstairs, or brushing against the outside of the door.

After feeding the cats, I came back up to the kitchen to get Brutus's breakfast. I looked out the front door to check on him, and all I saw was his tie stuck on the corner of the steps, his tags laying in the driveway, and NO DOG. My heart sank. I was still in my jammies, but I threw on my slippers and headed out the door. He was gone. I grabbed some treats and his squeaky toy and started running. I went all around the house and down by the lake, but he was no where. I went back up to the house figuring I would have a much better view because it's up on a hill. When I got to the front door, I saw him go running through the neighbors yard across the street. I yelled for him to "COME" which only made him run away faster. Son of a "gun". What was I going to do? In my heart, I pretty much knew he would come home. The only reason that had me thinking he might not was his reaction to Don leaving the lake on Sunday night, which consisted of a day and a half of whining from the front step. Would the goof ball try to go home to Minnesota? Oh Dear God. Get that thought out of my head. Let's go back to thinking that he will come home.

When I saw him across the street, and running toward the woods in that direction, I figured I better get in my car just to make sure he didn't decide to run down the road that we normally walk (or the road that dad drove down). I drove back and forth on the road, but no sign of him. I also drove up the road the other way past all of my neighbors, and no sign of him there either. Now I was getting panicky. So, back to the house with the high vantage point.

I got to the living room patio doors, and where do I see him?? Swimming. Yep, Brutus is in the lake swimming about two neighbors down. This is not cool. I really don't trust him to not swim across the lake. This is a boy who loves to swim. So, I head back down to the dock with a bag of chicken strips. They are the ultimate treat to him, but you know what? Swimming means more. He saw me, and started to swim further away, so I went back up to the house, calling him for treats. Nope. Not gonna happen. Grrrr. This is where you could insert some of those swear words. Some time has gone by now, and I am getting pissed. I see him come out of the lake, and go running back toward the road, so I get back in the car. As I'm driving down the road, I pass our neighbor Bennie. Bennie says that he hasn't seen him, but he will give a look along the lake before he heads back to work. Bennie is Don's best buddy, and he is amazing! He looked for a good twenty minutes, and had no luck either, and finally had to leave.

I had had it, and made the decision to just wait it out in the house. I was so frustrated. I posted myself by the living room window, and I would see him swim by, and every now and then he would go running past. I would try to call him, but he would just take off faster. Apparently he had some energy to burn off.

After two hours, the "sweetie" finally knocked on the front door. I wish that I would have had my whits about me to take his picture. He was covered in mud from head to toe, and unfortunately, wood ticks. For any of you who know me, I don't do wood ticks. When I was younger, I took off a large hunk of skin out of my knee screaming and swiping at my leg to remove a wood tick. Now I was faced with a dirty hairy dog full of them. Oh....My.....God!

The first thing I did was lie to him and tell him what a good boy he was, and gave him a treat. Some people would have yelled at him and hit him. I try to understand that dogs don't have the capacity to reason like humans. Is he going to think "gosh, she's hurting me because I was naughty and ran away", or is he going to think "wow, I came home, she must be mad". Nope, I will praise him for coming home. I would like him to do it again. Then I hooked him up to the correct ring on his collar so I could get the guest bath (which is the only bathroom that doesn't require crossing carpet) ready, along with yucky towels, ear cleaner and the tweezers.

Once everything was ready, I took him through the garage and into the tub. The water instantly turned brown. And here's the grossest part. Some ticks were floating, and one started crawling up the tub wall. This was so absolutely disgusting. Brutus was pouting big time, and I really really didn't care!!! It took about forty five minutes, but I got my handsome boy back. And you know what? The minute he was all cleaned up he was right back at the front door wanting to go back outside.

I let him, but I didn't take my eye off him. Like I said in an earlier post, he may have gotten his graduation certificate at doggy school, but I think he needs to retake the class a couple times, and I definitely need to spend more time working with him. In the cities, he does pretty good, but I get him here at the lake, and it's like he's on drugs. There are so many distractions outside that he doesn't hear a thing I say to him. I think I need to rename each of his commands to the name of an animal. Maybe then he would listen. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Met Some Friends On Our Walk

Yesterday I took Brutus on a walk down the dirt road by our house, and we ran into three friends. It always freaks me out a little bit when I come across deer hanging out in the road when I'm walking. There was one time two summers ago when it was apparently mating season, and there was a male there with three females, and none of them felt like moving out of the road. They all just stood there staring at me. I think I stood in the same spot on that road for a solid five minutes before they decided to walk off. My pulse was a little fast that day!!

The three deer yesterday weren't too interested in having a chat with us. It probably didn't help that Brutus was along, and quite interested in checking them out. He didn't bark, but he pulled really really hard on the leash to get closer to them, which I had no intention of letting him do. One lesson that I have at least imagined I learned as a little girl is to not mess with wild animals.

So instead, I took my camera out of my pocket and took their picture.

Enjoy. :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010


This was Brutus's first weekend at the lake with no ice. I truly believe that he thinks he was made just to be at the lake. Every time he comes in the house, he turns around and wants to go right back outside. I have been very tempted to let him "off leash", but after watching him with Don this morning, I'm sure he would run right down to the lake and jump in. It's true, labs are made for swimming.

Brutus and Don went for a couple walks yesterday, and on one of the walks Don took a trail by our neighbors house that ran along the lake. Brutus walked right in. Don couldn't tell if he thought he was just walking out on the ice like he always had, or if he actually knew it was water. With Brutus, you just never know. Anyway, he walked right in, stood there for a second and came buzzing right back out. I'm thinking the water is probably pretty cold. Later in the day when they were in the back yard, Don thought he was getting thirsty. They had been out there a long time, so he took him down to the lake for a quick drink. Again, Brutus walked right in. This time he came out sputtering. Hmmmm.

Today it seemed to all come together in his head. The two of them were out on the dock checking things out. I was up at the house, so I grabbed my camera and tried to zoom in the best I could from that far away. I could just SEE his brain working. It was the same way it was when we were in dog class and he went tearing out the door. It's almost like it ticks when he is calculating his decision.

They were on the dock looking at the beautiful lake, and then Brutus jumped in. At least now we know that he knows how to swim, which I never actually doubted. Now he is enamored with the water. His friend Mia, the neighbor dog has come over often and wanted to play, and I really think that Mia would be a good teacher for helping Brutus to stay in his boundaries, but now that he's had a taste of the water, I'm thinking I would probably find Brutus swimming across the lake, and I can honestly say, I have no desire at this point in the season to go swimming after him, so on his leash he will stay!! Sorry Brute.

He has the kind of personality where he would swim across the lake to the bar, charm someone for some treats (or beer), and swim back. Probably not a habit we should start. ;)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Busy Week

Brutus has had a whirlwind of a week. I find myself blogging less and less the more accustomed that we get to having Brutus in our family, but I guess that that's a good thing. It probably means that he's settling down, and each and every thing he does freaks me out a little less each time. :)

Last Thursday we went to Kansas to get our daughter moved in to her first apartment. Brutus, of course, couldn't come with, and I was torn on what to do. Joan, Brutus's foster mom had said that we could always call her to take care of Brutus, and that was high on my list, but we had been attending classes at PetSmart for seven weeks at that point, and his class room is attached to the Pet Hotel, and I knew that he was pretty comfortable going there. Also, his teacher was going to be in her office two out of the four days we were gone, and she said she would go in and see how he was doing, and he knows Libby and really likes her. It was a hard decision to make, but we decided on the Pet Hotel. I was able to sign him up for "Doggy Day Camp" during the day, so he had a full day of playing with the other dogs and tearing around for the day, and I also got to sign up for him to receive a doggy ice cream treat each day, which I knew would make him very happy! When the day came to drop him off at the hotel, I couldn't do it, so Don had to. He took with his bed from home, and a shirt that I had slept in so he would have something with my smell on it, which is supposed to give him comfort, and a bag with all of his meals in it, a couple of his favorite toys, and a new bone. When Don got back he said that Brutus had growled at the girl when she tried to put the Pet Hotel collar on him, which didn't make me feel very comfortable, but then he realized that he had to take him through the veterinary clinic entrance because the actual PetSmart store wasn't open yet, and that definitely could have set his nerves on edge.

Three hours into our trip, I just couldn't stand it anymore, and I had to call and check on him. It really didn't make me feel any better. The girl said that she had taken over Brutus's care from the first girl because of the growling incident, and he had been a sweetie ever since, so that was good, but he was in the doggy day camp, and he was being very shy and skittish about getting friendly with the other dogs. Great....I probably had the biggest dog there, and also the biggest scaredy cat! I decided I wouldn't call again. If anything terrible was happening, they would call me.

When we got home on Sunday evening and picked him up, he was pulling so hard on the leash to get down the hall to see us that the girl finally gave up and just let go. He had big kisses for both of us, and honestly, I'm surprised he didn't wet the floor. He was so excited. That felt good! Once we were home, he couldn't keep his eyes open. It was pretty obvious that he had played hard all four days. When he's super tired he snores like a bear, and he was definitely snoring away. When he woke up the next day, he was just not tired enough to remember that Don had taken him to the Pet Hotel, and he was just a little pissed off about that, and decided to give Don the cold shoulder for a couple days. It has been absolutely hilarious. Don would sit down by him on the floor, and Brutus would get up and walk about three feet away from him. Same thing with sleeping on the bed. Brutus is practically on top of me so he can make his point. Last night he finally let Don give him a good belly rub, but it has been a slow warm up. What a booger.

Today was also his last day of his intermediate dog class. He wasn't scared at all to go to class, which is next to the Hotel, so again, that's a good sign. He actually got his little graduation certificate and had his picture taken in his graduation cap (we tried anyway). The picture will be mailed to our house, and depending on how it turns out, I will post it when it comes. He was way too interested in the treat on the teachers head that she had up there to get the dogs to look her way during the pictures! I thought he should retake this same class, but the teacher thinks he should move on to the next level. I've decided to work with him for a month or so, and then sign up for the next level. In all honesty, I've been pretty busy and haven't spent enough time just practicing what we've learned, so there is more work to be done.

We also went to our first outdoor dog park today, and it was amazing. We went with Brutus's friend London from class, and they played and romped and ran in the wind for a good forty five minutes. It was so good for Brutus. The two dogs had the whole park to themselves for the first half hour, and it was great. By the time a half dozen other dogs had shown up, and things were getting a little iffy, Brutus was tired and ready to go home. He panted for a good twenty minutes. This was the first time that he was "legally" able to just run to his hearts content, and it was beautiful. I still have to learn how to tell when dogs are just playing or actually fighting. London would bite at him and bark at him to run, and Brutus didn't seem to get it at first. I didn't either. I thought London, who is usually very docile was being kind of mean, but she wasn't. She was merely saying "come on pal, lets go"!! He eventually figured it out and they had a great time. I wish more than anything that he knew his boundaries so he could play fetch with us outside, and get his running in, but I doubt I will ever trust him off leash. I guess only time will tell.

So, as you can see, it's been a very busy week for Brutus, as well as his mom and dad. Soon, it's off to the lake again. The last time Brutus was at the lake it was frozen. I think he would be in for quite a surprise if he tried to run on it this time!! Hope the big guy can swim!