Friday, January 30, 2015

Run free, Darlin' girl, until we meet again.

It is with deep sadness and heartache that I write this update. Darlin' crossed over Rainbow Bridge Jan. 29, 2015 at 4:58 pm in our home. One of the the most painfully sad days of my life. My vet was there to assist her. I did not want her last half hour to be terrifying in the car. It was not how her story was suppose to end. Not in my mind anyway. In six weeks she would have lived with us for six years. I fed her six months on the streets before trapping her on March 11, 2009. One of the happiest days of my life. A day I will always cherish. Darlin' was estimated to be 9-11 years old. She has started showing her age. She's left all of her fears behind and she took with her all the love any dog could ever want, and then some. "You're my Darlin' girl." " I love you, Darlin' Girl" Those words made her happy. I will think on those words every time I think of my sweet girl. Thank you to Darlin's readers and followers. I'm going to honor her memory by finishing her story through this blog or in a book after I work through the pain. Most recent picture of Darlin, as beautiful as ever.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.... Author unknown...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Animal Behaviorist Appointment

We scheduled an appointment for a behaviorist to come to our home to evaluate Darlin'. He's a Professor at a widely recognized school of Veterinary medicine in Alabama with more than 35 years experience. He was here two hours last Saturday, however, he made a recommendation for Darlin' within seconds of entering our home.

I put the dogs outside, but left Toby, our broken coat Jack Russell, in the house so he wouldn't bark for me to let him in. Toby is a velcro dog and doesn't want to be away from me very long.

Darlin' doesn't usually bark when a stranger enters our home. I thought she would run and hide. Not this time. She barked her head off when I invited the behaviorist inside. She was loud and the hair stood up on her neck so I walked over and had her sit and told her to hush, which she did. He watched her out of the corner of his eye. Darlin' then ran to the couch and jumped up turning her body side-ways away from him. She sat quietly on the couch, she turned her head in avoidance and was trembling fiercely as I told him a little about her history with us. He remarked that she was probably born feral and probably didn't have any socialization with people. He was surprised when I let him know that she was spayed sometime before I trapped her. We agreed that given she was spayed and so afraid of people, she was probably on her own a long time and may have suffered some abuse. He handed me some papers to sign and we sat together at the kitchen table. Once he sat down at the kitchen table, Darlin' ran back to our bedroom.

I discussed our concerns about her barking at my husband and kids. If this is your first time reading this blog, Darlin' has become very attached to me, but she barks at my family. Her barking started about a year ago, after living in the house about 6 months. She doesn't only bark when they come home from school or work. She barks every time they move in the house. She barks when my son comes home from school, when he opens my office door, when he goes to the bathroom, when he fixes a snack, if he helps bring in groceries, or if he's downstairs and comes back up. Literally! It's like that for everyone in the house except me. It doesn't matter if they are home all day. If she hears or sees them she barks at them. Darlin' does not bark when she's in the backyard unless my husband or one of my children open the back door. I also told him about her body language when she's barking. She appears to be in an excited state; her tail is high and wagging back and forth. Sometimes her hair stands up the back of her neck. He told me not to worry about her body language unless her ears are straight up and tail is high and centered between her ears. I'm familiar with that posture from books on canine behavior. The dog may be aggressive or even dangerous. Darlin' does not show any aggressive behavior. I think if she were going to bite we would have seen this long ago. She did bite me during a fight with Bonnie, but I do not believe she knew she bit me. She's been living with us for 18 months. I just realized this last week that I have known Darlin' for two years!

I asked his opinion about the dog fights between Darlin' and Bonnie. I showed him the scars on my arm from the fight a few months ago. I felt like he brushed it off. He said he wishes he had only been bitten once in his life and that "you're going to have the fighting as long as you have a dog that is anxious."

He also viewed a few videos that I have on youtube and my computer. He was surprised when he watched a video on youtube where I pointed to Darlin' and told her to hush and sit outside. Darlin' listens to commands unless she is aroused. Usually I walk over to her and tell her "that's enough" and to "sit down" and she will. He ask me to continue to document her behavior using videos. He told us that most people need to see him twice --an initial appointment with a follow-up, but that we will probably need to see him more than that. That's when my husband told him about the extensive progress Darlin' has made since we brought her home.

He was surprised that I asked for a home visit. That was his secretary's idea after I told her how fearful Darlin' is and that she would probably cower under my chair at his office. I will take Darlin' for an office visit and follow-up in three to four months.

His diagnoses was that Darlin' is in a constant state of anxiety and his recommendation for Darlin' is anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs. The anti-anxiety medicine is actually another antidepressant. She is not in a constant state of anxiety. She is a very calm and well behaved dog when no one is around, but she shows a lot of anxiety when my family members are home. He mentioned several drugs, but we are going to try something mild to begin with per my request. I want her to calm down, but I do not want her to experience weight gain, dizziness, or any possible negative side effects. Of course we can wean her off of the medicine after a while. He will contact my vet so I'm sure I'll need to see him with Darlin' as well. Once I have the prescription I will update that we have started the drug therapy. The drugs are Wellbutrin or the generic form of Bupropion, and Elavil, also known as Amitriptyline.

The crate has been a life saver! All of the dogs enjoy napping in it. Now, instead of rotating Darlin' and Bonnie during the day using bedrooms, I ask one of them to go in the crate while I let the other outside. It took about two days to teach Bonnie and Darlin' to go in the crate. I will never use it as punishment because I do not want them to associate it with something negative. My dogs are good dogs. I can't remember having to "punish" them for anything. I correct them daily if they get loud or too rambunctious in the house. I try to rotate them in my office so that they each have time with me. I'm pretty certain that Darlin' has claimed my office as part of her territory. I bought another crate for my office because eventually I want to leave my office door open again and allow all of the dogs to be with me at once. Right now all of the dogs get along in my office as long as I remove Darlin' or Bonnie. One has to stay out to avoid conflict. I did put Darlin' in the office crate once and she whined because she couldn't see me! She also whines if I leave her in the crate in the living room and go in my office. She shows signs of anxiety when I am out of her sight. She's fine in the crate if I'm in the kitchen because she can see me. She's also been jumping at my bedroom door, barking and whining when I arrive home. She's fine when I leave though. The behaviorist said the separation anxiety will get worse so hopefully the medications will help that as well.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

That Barking Dog!

I’ve been more active in animal rescue over the last six months, which is why I haven’t been posting. I’ve been promising my family and my dogs that I would take a break. I had a rescue in June that nearly did me in emotionally. Check out our Dog Blog for Five Dogs for the story of Earl – coming soon.

Darlin’ has been living in our home almost 16 months. She seems like a normal dog when no one is around, but she still has many fear issues. We have two problems that must be corrected or I’m going to have to think of an alternative solution for her.

Fighting with Bonnie

Last year we had a terrible dog fight here between Darlin’ and Bonnie, our Jack Russell Terrier. I rotated them and kept them separated for several weeks. I introduced them slowly in the house, eventually allowing them time out in the yard together. Both dogs are dominant females, but they were back to sharing food and resting together so I thought we had everything worked out. Not so.

Bonnie and Darlin Photobucket

One afternoon in May I had the dogs out back. I was throwing the ball for Gizmo, a recent rescue and foster. Bonnie looked bored so I decided to throw the Frisbee for her and the ball for Gizmo. In this video you will hear me telling Gizmo, “No!” She was another dominant female, a senior that lived to play ball, but she wasn’t possessive. I knew if Gizmo grabbed the Frisbee, that Bonnie might start something. Bonnie and Gizmo got along fine, but they were not playmates. Darlin’ has some pushy behavior with a few of the dogs except with Bonnie. The dogs usually ignore her and look at me when Darlin’ pushes past them. She and Bonnie know that they are a threat to the other. Darlin’ treats Toby like her puppy. She doesn’t pay much attention to Chloe at all. Chloe usually runs after Darlin’ to mark Darlin’s spots out in the yard or vice versa. Darlin’ didn’t pay any attention to Gizmo. Gizmo seemed well respected within the pack.

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In the video below you’ll see that Darlin’ got pushy with Chloe. She has head-butted her before which was similar behavior that particular day. I stopped the video a second before a terrible fight broke out. I thought that Darlin’ head-butted Bonnie. I remember Bonnie looking stunned for a split second, and then they turned on each other. It was the following day that I realized I had what happened on video. I slowed the video down and saw that Darlin’ grabbed Bonnie by the neck and flipped her. If you hold the play button down and scroll through the last two seconds slowly, you will see what I mean.

When Bonnie landed on her feet she was stunned and the fight broke out. I managed to get Bonnie off the ground immediately, but Darlin’ continued to lunge for her in my arms! At one point Darlin’ grabbed Bonnie’s back leg and I heard her squeal. I had to hit her so she would let go! She acts like a wild dog during a fight! She doesn’t hear me or see me, all she cares about is getting to Bonnie! I grabbed the outdoor broom and used it to keep her away from me so I could get up the stairs and put Bonnie in the house! When I closed the door Darlin’ was there head-butting the door wanting inside!

I'll try the video tonight, it would not upload.

I kept them separated for two weeks, rotating them out in the yard and in different rooms in the house. Dr. Ian Dunbar says that most dogs will forget a fight right away. He was right in saying most and not all because Bonnie and Darlin’ do not forget. If my husband walks through the room carrying Bonnie and she sees Darlin’, she will growl and threaten, sometimes acting like a devil dog. If Darlin’ goes in the bedroom after Bonnie has been there, she smells everything like she is hunting. She does not do that when any of the other dogs have been in a room.

Two weeks after the fight and now rotating, I was in my office one afternoon with a couple of the dogs lying in their beds. Darlin’ was lying in the floor not far from the door. I had the door open because it gets stuffy with the door closed so much. My husband is supposed to let me know when Bonnie comes inside so that I can close my door. He forgot. I looked up from my desk and Bonnie was standing in the doorway shaking her little butt and wagging her tail. She did not cross the threshold. She was saying “Hi Mom.” I said Hello and then knew what was about to happen. I saw Bonnie look at Darlin’ lying in the floor. I could not see Darlin’ but I knew where she was. Bonnie turned to leave and turned back around. Bonnie and Darlin’ made eye contact, Darlin’ jumped up and charged at the door and Bonnie turned back because she won’t walk away when challenged. This happened in a second and I didn’t make it around my desk before there was another fight in my office doorway! Again I was able to get Bonnie off the floor, but Darlin’ kept lunging for her in my arms. I also had all of the other dogs at my feet, all wanting to take part in the fight! Misplaced aggression! I pushed them back, Darlin’ lunged, and somehow I got tripped up on a rug in the hallway and fell backwards. It was about the same time Darlin’ bit my arm! I dropped Bonnie and the fight was on! My husband came running to help me. He did exactly what you shouldn’t do! He held Bonnie’s jaws until she let go of Darlin’s lip and it took a while with Darlin’ whimpering. As soon as Bonnie let go, Darlin’ ran under my desk because she’s still afraid of my husband.

Darlin’ had bites on the side of her mouth, one that bled until late in the night. The side of her face was swollen for several days. I can’t believe she lived on her own and came to me without any scars on her face, but in my home she’s had several bite marks! She still has one scar that’s missing hair, but in time the hair should come back. Hopefully! Bonnie had bite marks on her legs and limped for a day or so, but no bleeding. They were puncture wounds.

Two terrible dog fights in two weeks! I’ve heard of people that have kept dogs separated for years because of fighting. I simply cannot live that way. In addition, I can’t put that kind of responsibility on my husband and children. It’s not fair to my family, who have already sacrificed so much because of my dogs.

Photobucket Photobucket

My arm hurt! It was swollen and infected over a week. My first and last bite wounds, I hope!


My husband and children cannot speak in the house without Darlin’ barking at them. I wrote a trainer and asked for help with Darlin’s issue of territorial barking. Her suggestion was to put Darlin’ away every time she barks. I can point my finger and tell her to “Go!” and she will run to our room, but seconds later she comes back growling and barking. I’ve closed the door, waited a minute and brought her back out – it’s the same every time. Yesterday I used a squirt bottle of water! The trainer said she is guarding her most valuable resource – me! She feels threatened by my husband and children. My kids are 17 and 21! They stay in their room when she is eating because she barks at them. When my daughter walks upstairs Darlin’ barks. When my son comes in from school at three o’clock she goes off. When my son opens his door to go to the bathroom she starts barking. If she hears my husband’s recliner downstairs she barks. She won’t bark if the mailman rings my doorbell, but let one of my family members make a noise and she barks her head off! It’s awful and no one should have to live in a home where they can’t speak because a dog is barking louder than they can talk!

Bark Off – As seen on TV

When I told my Dad about Darlin’s barking issue he sent me the link to Bark Off. I’ll try anything so I ordered it. I think we are the perfect household for testing this new method of stopping your dogs from barking. Does it work? Yes! Does it work for all of my dogs? No! I kept telling my husband that Chloe, our Eskie, is going deaf. Bark Off has proved me right! She doesn’t hear it. Bonnie (Jack Russell) never barks indoors so her barking was not an issue. Sam (blue heeler) is reactive to outside noise, but usually quiets down right away. Toby (Jack Russell) has dominance barking. He would bark when I came in the front door, jumping and barking all the way to the table until I put my groceries down. It’s his way of saying, “Pick me up, pick me up!” As soon as I reach for Toby he stops barking and melts in my arms. Toby also growls and barks during play with Bonnie or Darlin’. Not with the Bark Off on!

Sam stopped barking immediately. Bonnie doesn’t bark. Chloe continued to bark, she is usually first to start and last to finish. I still believe she is losing her hearing. Toby immediately quit barking. He still ran next to me, but not a sound out of his mouth! It actually scares him. I coughed one day and he jumped in my lap quivering. I knew then that Bark Off isn’t going to work if it scares one of my dogs. Toby has no phobias so I don’t want to give him any! Another day he quickly ran under the couch!

What about Darlin’? No! We think she is more afraid of my husband and kids than she is of the noise. If she would stop barking, we could live with Chloe’s barking because it isn’t nearly as loud as Darlin’.

My friend, also in rescue, offered me some advice. She suggested that I move Darlin’ to my husband’s side of the bed and that I rotate her (in a crate) in my kid’s bedrooms at night. She said to move her out of her comfort zone. My son is away for a few weeks so I will do this when he returns. My daughter is away as I type this, but we will try it in a week. Darlin’ will turn over and give my husband her belly every morning and she will take a treat, but only if she is on the couch or in her bed. She will not go to him. I have asked him not to give her a treat if she will not go to him. I’m constantly correcting him too, but he only does it because he’s trying to help her overcome her fear of him. If he sits too close to her she will shake and has anxiety with labored breathing.

I went and bought a crate for her yesterday. She was in it last night during the fireworks at a nearby park. The fireworks were too close to our home because I could see our back deck light up. The dogs were barking as though someone was beating on the door, but we managed to quiet them down. They were scared. Bonnie jumped in my husband’s lap, Toby and Chloe were next to me, Sam went to his dog bed next to Darlin’ in the crate. We put Darlin’ in the crate last night to allow us more freedom of movement in the house, without having to leash Bonnie and so she wouldn’t bark at my husband if he walked through the room. It was the first time in months that we sat in the same room completely relaxed! Darlin’ was shaking because she was separated from me. It took her several minutes before she calmed down and relaxed in the crate. She did stand up during the fireworks, but she did not bark.

Photobucket Photobucket

My friend also suggested I find a sanctuary for Darlin’ where she can live out her life. I started crying when she said that. Deep inside I know it is wrong for me to expect to live this was another 10-12 years. We haven’t taken vacation for over two years and I cannot be gone too long during the day because Darlin’ will not go outside to potty without me. I did seek rescue for her before I brought her home, but no one wanted her. I love her and she loves her life here so I want more than anything to get past the fighting and barking.

The crate may help Darlin’ get use to my family. If she barks in her crate, I don’t know what I will do next. It will also allow Bonnie and Darlin’ time together in the same room where they can learn that they are not a threat to each other. It also means that Darlin’ will not be right next to me, taking her out of her comfort zone and hopefully help her get use to living in our home without being so attached to me.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dogs that need us - with video

A year ago this coming week was when I made the decision to get Darlin’ off the streets. I couldn’t go on driving to feed her every night. It was getting old, especially for my family.

I sent out this email to Best Friends in Utah and to three local rescue groups in our area. My husband thought I had lost my mind wanting to bring another dog into our home so I did what I could to reach out for help.

One year before (2008) I lost my cat after we moved 650 miles. She ran out of our new home and I never found her. I grieved for a month, I hurt so badly. I ran ads, had signs everywhere, had her registered online, and we even set traps in our neighborhood.

Exactly a year later I was trying to trap a stray that I refused to turn away from. Again, I was crying out for help and crying is no exaggeration. I shed a lot of tears over this situation.

Dear Friend,

The last thing you need is another plea to take a dog, but please take a minute to read my email. I am heartbroken and don't know what I will do with a dog I feed that's been living on the streets and taking shelter in the woods.

I have been feeding a stray for 6 months. I drive 6 miles to her every evening at dark and take her food. This started late last summer or early fall. She came about an hour after dark, when the time changed she changed with it, crossing traffic at 6 pm!

She was very close to emaciated when this started. After eating every night that it doesn't rain (she doesn't come then) she looks like a healthy dog now. My intention was to keep her alive through winter which has worked, although it's amazing she hasn't been killed by a car as she crosses a major highway through my area every night.

I contacted Animal Control 2/9/2009, we have one Police Officer in our area. He has agreed to ask permission to work a night shift to observe and catch this stray dog for me. I can't go on doing what I'm doing. She will NOT come to me; she is very cautious and keeps her distance until I move away from the food I leave by a tree. This has become The Real Giving Tree as I taught her by repetition that there will be food at the tree when she comes to it! She waited for me 3 hours when I was delayed in December and it was freezing! I can't eat dinner when I know she crossed a highway and is waiting for me!

She looks over her shoulder with every bite of food, very cautious. I also started bringing her pig ears and other chews around Thanksgiving. You should have seen how happy she was the first time she found it there!! I sit in my car and watch her; I also watch her run back across the highway right in front of bumpers with her chew after she has eaten!

Six months is a long time to try and get a dog to come to you. Sometimes I wonder if she's deaf because when I talk to her she just stands back away from me with her head low, but it just could be how she protects herself from harm. Maybe she's not deaf either because she sometimes gets spooked by cars in the parking lot. She'll grab her chew before finishing her food, run back to wherever she hides out and comes back for the food later in the night. The Police Officer said she may have been abused in her life by some of her actions, but she shows no signs of aggression at all. She is a lovely 40-45 lb mixed breed dog (maybe some Australian shepherd), but I can't judge her age, although I don't think she is very young.

I have sat at my computer and cried over your dogs that have been waiting for years for a home! I want a farm so bad! My house is barely big enough for a family of 4 and 6 animals, probably why my husband doesn't want anymore. This situation has caused problems at home for me, from the feedings every night to trying to figure out what I will do with her when I catch her.

And I know it's costly and time consuming for you, I just don't know where to turn! Rescue groups are not responding to my emails and I need to know what to do.

Animal Control said he will help me catch her, but my husband won't allow me to even try to keep her. We already have 3 dogs and 3 cats, we have transported Rescues that I would have kept if I could have.

He said that even if she did get along with our dogs that we can't keep her. It breaks my heart because I feel like I'm looking for a home for my own dog, yet I've never even been able to touch her or pet her head. I've cried about my decision for two days because I don't know what to do! Animal Control said he wouldn't want to take her to our County Humane Society, I don't know how long they could keep her and I want her to have a good life.

Please advise me! I think that she has become wild, but if I didn't have all of these dogs I would be able to keep her and rehabilitate her myself. I think she just needs to learn that not all humans will hurt her. She needs to be shown kindness besides the food.

We will work at catching her soon, maybe this week, he's suppose to call me today, but I'm not sure I could even bring her home because of my dogs. I don't know how she would react, in captivity or with my dogs. My dogs are socialized, but they get overly excited when they see another dog which could freak her out!

If you take her or another rescue could take her I will pay her Vet bill, bed, food and make donations to insure she has a home. I have a Vet too. She needs heartworm testing, I'm sure. She needs room to roam; I don't think she would do well in a kennel after living on her own. And I do not agree that putting her down is better than living on the streets, I just can't after making it this long and doing so well. I have a hard head I'm sure, but a deep love for dogs and misfortunate dogs especially. She deserves a chance at a real home, with food everyday and a soft place to sleep.

Please advise, we will be trying to catch her after dark at a shopping center, maybe this week. Her pictures are attached. Not good ones because it's dark. We call her Darlin’ because that's what I say when I feed her, "Hello Darlin’.”

Everything turned out as it should have. Little did I know that part of my path in life was to love and rehabilitate Darlin’. We don’t get the dogs we want, we get the dogs we need. I truly believe that. And I would add; we get the dogs that need us.

One January morning. Darlin’ was the first one to come back inside. She knows to sit for her treats and she is good at it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I am my neighbor...

No, not my house, but every since I found this picture I wanted to use it!

I would have preferred to start off the New Year with an optimistic post title that summed up our Holidays. However, about two weeks before Christmas my neighbor and I had a heated argument – on my front porch! December 15, to be exact.

I wrote about my neighbor here when Bonnie and Darlin’ got into the fight. Darlin’ was tense about the commotion on my neighbors back deck when Bonnie acted dominant and buffed up to Darlin’ when I took her rock.

Bonnie’s rock obsession hasn’t gotten any better. Some days it’s worse than others. She finds a rock or digs one up, knocks it around and barks at it. If you go outside she will pick it up and run with it. I tell her to “drop it.” When she does I say “no rock” and I put it in my pocket. We stopped tossing them over the fence because that only intensified her excited state. I’ll throw her Frisbee or sometimes have her sit for cheese and then carry her upstairs.

On Dec. 15, 2009 I spent most of the day running errands and shopping. I called my son to see if he let the dogs out after school and he said he hadn’t, and that Bonnie was sleeping on his bed. I told him to leave her and I would let them out when I got home. I arrived home at 4:00 o’clock and let three of them out. I did not allow Darlin’ and Bonnie in the yard together without me and Toby waits for me when I take Darlin’ out.

My car was full of bags so I toted everything inside and began putting groceries away and making tea. I heard Bonnie bark at a rock. I know the difference in her barks, not just with Bonnie, but with all of the dogs.

I decided to run check my business email since I had been away from my computer most of the day. I heard her bark again, I looked out my window and she was pawing at a rock. It’s not a constant bark. She barks two or three times, stops and kicks the rock around, then barks again. I opened my window and told her to hush. She looked up at me so I sat back down at my desk. The weather was nice so I left my window up. I sat at my desk about five minutes. When she barked I called to her knowing my voice would distract her. Just as she starting barking again I went to put my Crocks on because we have a yard full of poop right now.

As soon as I slipped my shoes on to go get Bonnie someone rang my doorbell. I opened the door and there stood my neighbor. That was the first time in five years since I’ve owned Sam, our blue heeler, that he made a low growling sound at someone at the door. I told my neighbor that I would meet him outside and I put the dogs in my son’s room. The way he looked at me standing there are my porch made me angry and all of those feelings I’ve had when he throws rocks at my fence, or yelled “shut up” from his yard came rushing back to me.

I walked outside and the first words out of his mouth were, “Could you shut your dog up?” I said as I pointed to my feet, “I just put my shoes on to go get her.” Him – “That dog has barked all day long!” Me - “That’s a lie; I haven’t been home 15 minutes!” Neighbor – “And she’s barked every since, I can’t even hear my TV!” Me – My dogs don’t bark five minutes and you’re out there telling them to shut up! I respect my neighbors; my dogs aren’t outside early in the mornings or late at night. Him – “you’ve lived her two years and you’ve never respected your neighbors! I’ve already called the police, let’s not let this go any further!” Me – “Really? I’ve already called animal control because we can’t trust you! They brought me one of these dogs! Him - “I don’t care where they came from!” Me - “I’ll see what I can do to keep my dogs quiet so you can hear your TV.” Him – “Good!”

I know, Animal Control, but it was the heat of the moment. It could have been worse. I could have mentioned that crazy woman on his deck singing with headphones on all summer from morning till after 10:00 o’clock at night! I’ve woken up to her obnoxious singing before. They play their music loud when they work in the yard or when they wash their cars. I never said a thing because I was so pissed off at the time that he had the nerve to come over here. I could have mentioned the blue lights flashing in front of his house and how it concerned us. I was so hoping his wife would leave him and he would have to move because he couldn’t afford the house on his own. No such luck, she came back.

Dogs bark all night around here, to the point that it hurts my spirit. I have prayed for a white tied-out shepherd several times this winter. I wonder how people sleep when their dog is barking all night in the yard. I think because of that it’s so important to me not to disturb my neighbors, but let’s be reasonable here, they are dogs and it was 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon! My dogs can’t chase each other and bark during playtime because of him!

Woodrow Wilson said, “If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” That’s the first thing I thought when Sam was uncomfortable with my neighbor at our door. He sensed something was up with that guy!

It’s almost 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon and she has just barked for the first time today, not at a rock, I’m watching her look up at the back door. I left my desk and let two of the dogs outside, but instead of them joining Bonnie in the yard, she came upstairs and came in the house. She sometimes barks a couple of times so that one of the dogs will come outside with her. Her barking at rocks started about the time the frogs left for winter.

This neighbor that does not like my dogs has a pond and we have a terrible frog issue because of it. In fact, he has a frog over there that croaks so loud it’s nearly as loud as a dog! She used to catch at least one frog a day from spring through summer. Now that the frogs are gone we think this could be the reason she’s kicking rocks around. I’m going to look into an exercise wheel for her, maybe a treadmill. It’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s become an issue because of the neighbor. Bonnie knows how to leave the rocks and come indoors. She handles us taking them and is easily distracted by Frisbee or food.
Darlin’ stepped out on the back deck at the same time that my neighbor stepped out of his garage door. She barked one time, one woof sound, when I heard him instantly say, “shut up.” I’m almost always with her so I was there too. She got scared and went right back inside so we waited until he left.

I don’t like living my life to accommodate this guy, but it’s not possible for us to move right now or this year, unless by some miracle some things change.

My dad said I shouldn’t have let him upset me. That I should have told him that his first mistake was ringing my doorbell. He said I should have asked what kind of TV he has and offer to buy him headphones. My daughter said maybe he can use the headphones that woman wears outside all summer!

Darlin’s Christmas…

What a blessing it’s been knowing Darlin’ is safe indoors this winter. She has made phenomenal progress recently! She stayed in my room while we opened gifts Christmas morning, but spent the afternoon in her bed by my feet as I struggled to keep my eyes open while watching TV.

Daddy petting her on the couch...

She and Bonnie have been fine together, however I have not allowed them in the yard together because I can’t handle all of the dogs alone should one of them instigate a fight. In the house I’ve had three issues, all were because of Darlin’!

One morning I let Bonnie out of her crate. She was being sweet with her tail down and wiggling her little butt wanting me to pet her. Darlin’ rushes over to us from her side of the bed and nips at Bonnie! She was like a bulldozer and bumped into Bonnie’s side head on. I quickly corrected Darlin’ when Bonnie went ballistic. I picked up Bonnie and put her outside and let Darlin’ calm down because she gets excited to see me upon waking in the mornings.
Two other times it happened in my office, which is a small bedroom. Darlin’ doesn’t mind any of the dogs in here, but since the fight I keep the door closed so that she and Bonnie are not too close. Besides I’m working and can’t watch them closely. I left the door open thinking Bonnie was downstairs with my husband. She was but he left the door open. Bonnie walks up to the threshold of the door when Darlin’ growled and charged at her, but it was dominance, not aggression. Bonnie got scared and withdrew to the hall, but then ran back inside like she was going to settle it. I snatched Bonnie up and removed her.

The other incident happened just a few days ago. I was leaving my office when Bonnie approached me at the doorway. Again she was sweet, her tail lowered, ears back, she had a little wiggle in her butt because I acknowledged her presence. Darlin’ jumped up and darted at Bonnie! I corrected Darlin and picked up Bonnie and removed her. So the only issue now seems to be territorial dominance for Darlin’. She charges and growls, but I think she’s claiming the space as her own to prevent Bonnie from entering. If she was aggressive we would have had a real dog fight, but we didn’t. Now if these were two powerful breeds, I probably couldn’t have stopped it the way that I did.
Darlin’ has become more confident. She’s pushy, often wanting her treat first and leans over the other dogs to get theirs. She pushes past them to come in the door from outside. At dinner she sits and waits patiently for her bowl to go down.

She’s been playing more, mostly with Toby, although she did give Sam a play bow in the yard last week. She’s not comfortable with the others yet. If they get to close she stops playing with Toby and becomes more guarded. She and Toby are needier and are always by my side whereas the other three are independent. I wonder if that’s why she’s bonded with Toby?

I’m going to work on introducing Darlin’ and Bonnie to my office together this month. December was extremely busy for me that maintaining balance and preventing issues between the dogs was more important than teaching. I’d like to get back to the point when all of the dogs could come and go from my office without any dominance or territorial behavior. For the time being I have rotated Darlin’ and Bonnie, sometimes allowing Bonnie time in here to sleep at my feet and other times Darlin’ gets the office. Toby is always with me and sometimes Sam is here too. Our cat, Baby, has recently decided the office is where she wants to be too.

I have a cat, Lilith, a small black female shorthair that was feral and still behaves a like a feral cat. It's took me almost four years to get her to come to me. She usually sleeps downstairs or in the garage. Recently she’s started coming upstairs more and sleeps in a pet bed in the dining room. Lilith is the cat that always gets scared and growls at the dogs when they see her. Darlin’ has become intrigued with Lilith in the last two weeks. She has to check her out in the dining room when she sees her there. It could be that Lilith’s growling stimulates her curiosity, I’m not sure, but I don’t want her to start bothering the cats so I'm keeping a close eye on her.

She’s been drinking from the community water bowl! I guess it helped that I threw out the old pool because she got most of her water outside until recently.
She played with toys one night! She just decided to play on her own and started chewing on the stuffed toys.

In her bed - it was fun watching her get comfortable and scratch herself.
She is taking food from my husband and son now! She will bark at my husband and grumble as she eats her treat. Someone train my husband, please. I asked him not to give her a treat if she's barking at him. We don't want to reward the barking.
Eating a chew next to Sam. It was great seeing her lie in the floor like a dog!
Four minutes outside without me! I don't always go to the yard with her unless she waits for me at the top step. I was standing on the deck and snuck back in the house. Four minutes is great! I was keeping time!
The only picture I have at the moment with her by the tree.

I love this one. She and Toby had been playing, but she stopped to see what Sam was up to when he sniffed her. The look on Toby's face is priceless! You can click on images to enlarge, then Click your Back button to return to this blog.

The videos are taking a long time to upload. I'll be back within a week to upload more.

This video was taken when I vacuumed. She use to hide and tremble in fear. I guess if you live in a house where someone vacuums once or twice a week, you'll get use to it rather quickly.

I hope everyone had a great Holiday. Best wishes for a healthy happy New Year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Darlin’s first picture and Christmas story.

I’m posting this on both blogs because it seems appropriate.

A year ago today I took Darlin’s first picture. If I had taken her picture when I first started feeding her it would have made some people cry. She was so skinny that she looked hunched over with her stomach pulled up inside of her. She didn’t have her winter coat when we met, as a result her hair was thin and closer to her body. I thought she was some kind of hound dog. I was in such a hurry to feed her on schedule that taking her picture never crossed my mind. As soon as darkness fell I would watch the clock until it was time for me to leave the house.

So why Dec. 6th, 2008?

A local breeder had been shut down by the ASPCA. There were about 50 dogs that they had to surrender. The Humane Society took several, some went to rescues, and 16 were transported to a Michigan rescue. The ASPCA asked the breeder to pay for the gas needed to transport the dogs out of state. She said she wouldn’t do it because she didn’t want to give them up. When I heard about the gas, I made the donation because those dogs were not going to be delayed a chance at freedom if I had anything to do with it.

My husband and I met with the breeder’s husband at 8:00 in the morning at a grocery store parking lot. The same one that Darlin’ would be eating at once it turned dark. He was supposed to be bringing three Jack Russell’s going to Russell Rescue in Tennessee. They were not Jack Russell’s, they were Rat Terriers, but that’s okay, Russell Rescue wouldn’t turn them away. I had my camera along so that I could email the pictures to everyone involved in their rescue.

I asked the breeders husband for their names and any information he had. When he handed over the male he called JR, he said that JR had never been used for anything other than making puppies. They were frightened. In fact JR was in the back of the crate when we arrived at rescue and I didn’t realize it at the time, but he had to use the bathroom.

My daughter’s great grandmother (89 yrs at the time) lives in Tennessee so we stopped to visit with her that afternoon. Granny had a stroke in 2007 and moved into an assisted living home. We always take her out to lunch when we visit. It’s usually getting dark by the time we head home so I had Darlin’s food with me so that I could feed her on the way to our house. That day I had my camera too. It was hard getting Darlin’s picture because the camera I used isn’t good for taking pictures at night. Darlin’ was fearful too therefore I kept my distance as she ate over at her tree.

Yesterday we went to visit Granny in a North Alabama Rehab because she broke her hip in November and still isn’t able to walk. Darlin’ had been alone all afternoon and was really missing me. She cries, whines, barks, and gets overly-excited when I come in the door. All of are dogs are excited to see Mom and Dad even though the kids were home, but Darlin’ is different - and special. She usually hides in my room while I’m away. I’m sure she feels abandoned by me when I’m gone.

Last night I stood outside as Darlin’ went potty before bed. She still won’t stay in the yard without me and most times she will not go down unless I do. It was freezing cold and the ground was covered in frost. I wore my oversized coat with the hood over my head and I was still freezing, yet the night reminded me that it wasn’t quite as cold as some of the nights that Darlin’ spent alone outside last winter. As I stood there shivering waiting on the dogs, I was thankful that my mind is at peace this month.

Standing out in the cold last night took me back to last winter and winters past. It was December when my daughter asked what my intentions were concerning Darlin’. That’s when I told my family with tears on my eyes that I only intended to keep Darlin’ alive through winter by feeding her and the rest was in Gods hands. I didn’t want her, I had three dogs already. Besides, she didn’t want me, she wouldn’t come near me.

I knew my family was tiring of me not wanting to go places or do anything that might interfere with feeding Darlin’. I understood what was going on with them; they had to help me too. The questions hurt because it put what I had been doing into perspective. I knew that I was neglecting some of my own responsibilities because of Darlin’. How long was I going to continue with her feeding routine? How long could I keep doing it? I had to drive six miles every night. That’s not very far, but it was inconvenient. I couldn’t abandon her, especially not after three months. I couldn’t skip a feeding, not after establishing a routine. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing that I was capable of feeding her and without me she would be hungry. What if I ever missed a meal, would she wait for me? It was hard enough knowing she was hiding in the cold somewhere. December was an emotional time for me.

It was Dec. 13th when we went to see Trans Siberian Orchestra in concert. The concert started about the same time I would be feeding Darlin’. Afterwards we went to dinner. The concert was wonderful, but Darlin’ weighed heavy on my mind because I would be so late getting to her. We took my husband’s car that night therefore I knew I would have to ask him to stop so that I could buy food on the way home. There was more food than we could eat at dinner. I asked everyone to pass their plates and I scraped everything together in a carryout container for Darlin’. We pulled into the parking lot at the grocery store on our way home when I thought I saw something by her tree. As we got closer she lifted her head and I realized it was Darlin’ lying there napping and waiting for me! She waited over three hours!

It was raining and the wind blew hard for three days the week of Christmas. I knew Darlin’ wouldn’t come out in the rain, but I left her food anyway by putting a bowl out with a stick on top to keep the rain out. I figured if the rain slowed down she would come to eat. At that point I hadn’t seen her for two nights and I was getting worried. The food was gone, but I couldn’t be sure that Darlin’ was the one who ate it. On Christmas Eve we put her food out early so that I wouldn’t have to leave the house later. My husband bought a large basted bone for her as a Christmas gift and we left that too. She didn’t show up.

As we drove home I recalled the year before we were living in Missouri. Our cat Abbey had been bit by something and it tore a large piece of skin off of her that required stitches. Abbey had to go outside, she ran to every door in the house and begged to go out. She loved to lie around on the porch and play with our neighbor’s cat, but they also had one that was mean and attacked her. Going through my photos I found the picture of her wound was taken and emailed to my husband on Dec. 6, 2008. He had transferred and was already working at his new job in Alabama while I stayed in Missouri with the children so they could finish out the first semester at school before we relocated them.

I didn’t know until I wrote this post that Abbeys picture and Darlin’ pictures were taken at the same time a year apart. It seems significant to me because there is so much synchronicity in my life when it comes to animals. I will write more on this subject in the future.

My husband came home for Christmas in 2007. We were sitting in the living room on Christmas Eve when I spotted something that looked like eyes in our tree. It was Abbey lying in the branches! I pulled her out and noticed her stitches broke open and the wound was infected and oozing. We called an emergency vet and drove Abbey over right away. Two Christmas Eves a year apart we were out at night because of an animal.

We gathered around the tree a little earlier than usual last year. The kids open one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas morning. Since it was still early and the house was quite I thought about making a second trip to check on Darlin’. The rain and wind had slowed so my thoughts turned to Darlin’ and whether she might show up. I asked my husband if he would mind if I drove over to check the food to see if Darlin’ was around. He said that he would drive me. It was at that moment when he offered to drive me that I didn’t feel bad about asking. When we arrived the bowls were empty, but the Christmas bone was still there. I had to believe that she had eaten and would come back for her bone later.

This year Darlin’ will spend Christmas next to me on the couch. Her head will be dry, her belly will be full, and this will be the first of many Christmases to come for her in a real home.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dog Adoption Interview

I've just completed an interview with Happy Tails Books - Lost Souls Found!
Please stop by and check it out. You'll learn a little more about me too.

While you are there, if you have a rescue or adoption story that you would like to share, Happy Tails accepts stories for publishing!

You can buy Happy Tails - Lost Souls Found! breed specific books as well. A significant portion of sales will go to help dogs in need.

These books would make a great gift for the dog lover you know or for someone that loves dogs, but seems to have everything else. Books last forever, unlike your computer, and they make great coffee table conversation. Once you read these stories, you'll want to share the joy with your friends! In addition to Happy Tails books, the website posts up-to-date information on dogs and animal advocacy news.

I'll be back soon with an update on my Darlin'.