Wednesday, June 16, 2010


So the weirdest thing happened today. Breeze came prancing into the office like she does when she is really happy, but rather than coming right to me she circled through the room and went back out. She came back a couple seconds later and circled the room again paying particularly close attention to the corners. I realized something was a little off about 5 seconds too late, and that is when she hovered over the pile of blankets I have down as a bed for them and squatted. She obviously hadn’t been out since this morning because it took her a while to finish peeing.

I grabbed her when she started to take her outside, but there was no way she was going to stop mid-stream. I realized I was better off cleaning up a contained puddle on a pile of blankets than a trail across the floor, so let her finish. I wrapped up the blankets gave her a couple “no, bad dog”s and forced her to go outside. She stood at the door and just trembled trying to get around me to go back inside. Of course, I then realized I was just making her afraid of being outside and let her into the house. I put the blankets in the laundry and walked into the living room, she then exhibited her ‘I am afraid of this person’ behavior. Terrific, now she is afraid of me.

So I gave her some space before headed into the living room for some touch time. I sat on the floor next to her bed and massaged her ears, legs, neck and back. I know, I know, “don’t comfort your dog when they are afraid, you are reinforcing their bad behavior”. That may be true for 99% of the dogs. She is not one of them. (My friend Jamie, the dog trainer, says it is because of the way I do it. I am not coddling her, just giving her stability and strength. Thanks for the tips Jamie.) So we worked on me not being a threat for about half hour, a few minutes at a time separated by recouping time.

While working on gaining her trust again, I was puzzling through why she peed in the house; it is quite unusual. (Though she did pee on my bed once. I wasn’t home and my sister stopped by with her daughter, Alex, and Alex’s friend. Alex and the friend needed to use the bathroom and Breeze freaked out when they started walking through the house. She ran into the bedroom and jumped on the bed, cowering in the corner, the furthest spot in the room from the doorway. While Alex was in the bathroom, her friend waited in the hall, which was unfortunately right at the entrance to my bedroom. She was apparently making eye contact as well. So Breeze, recovering from an earlier trip to the vet that morning (a whole ‘nother story), trapped in a room with no escape and with someone staring her down, just peed on the bed. I couldn’t really fault her for that.)

Anyway back to today’s little event. I checked the dog door for any obstructions. Nope. Anything unusual in the back yard. Nope. Men working on a roof of one of the neighboring houses. Nope. Hmmmmm. Puzzling.

My working theory was that earlier in the day something outside had scared her so badly she would now not go out the door. Once we were on good terms again, it was time to test the theory. I opened the back door and started playing with all the girls. I led them on a merry game of chase around the house, through the kitchen, through the Arizona room and into the back yard. I got out there and realized there were suddenly only two dogs playing. Hmmmmm. Breeze was peering at me from inside the kitchen. I recognized the posture, something was freaking her out either in the Arizona room or outside and she was having none of it. We tried the game again with the same results.

OK, time for a different tactic. I got out the smelliest, tastiest snackies I have on hand and went for the enticing ploy. I started at the exterior door. No go. I came into the Arizona room and we met halfway on a straining reach. She didn’t take a step but she took the snackie. 10 minutes later, she was halfway into the room. Willow and Dru supervising the progress probably gained a pound on the snackies during that time frame alone.

It was now time to regroup for both of us. She hid in the corner bed, I called and cancelled the appointments I had this evening. There was no way I was leaving her in the house in this condition and if she wouldn’t go outside on her own. (Why don’t you just take her for a walk you ask – because if she is really freaked out she won’t go during a walk). With a few more sessions she was to the exterior door, but that was a far as she would go. She kept looking around like she was hearing something and trying to pinpoint the source. Neither of us could figure out what it was.

I realized I was going to need reinforcements. A soft voice with a lovely English accent answered the call.

“How are you today?”
“Excellent, thank you.”
“May I borrow your dog?”
“Of course, when would you like him?”
“Sooner, rather than later.”
“I am heading to a meeting in 45 minutes and will drop him off on the way.”

How incredible was that?

You see Breeze has crushes on 2 dogs, Charlie and Jovi, and follows them everywhere when we are at play dates. We were currently talking to Charlie’s Mom, Phyllis, she’s the closer of the two and we haven’t seen Charlie in a while. Plan C was set into motion.

I then started planning ahead for tomorrow, when I return to work (I was lucky I was off today). Pee pads. I need to run to the store before Phyllis arrived. When I returned from PetSmart, $30 dollars lighter and carting a tub of new snackies and a soft-sided bag of ‘it is OK if you pee in the house' blankets, and walked through the living room, my gaze settled in on the small portable fan I had brought in from storage this morning and set up in the corner. We have been hitting over 100 regularly and the heat really seems to be affecting them more this summer than previous ones. Last year the portable fan lived in that corner for 4 months.

Then it dawned on me. The way the fan was set up might be transmitting noise through the kitchen so she would hear it as she entered the Arizona room. I turned it off and decided to try testing the new theory. I got her outside with only moderate tempting with the new dried liver snackies and after a pause at the door to listen for her scary noise. Well crap, all this over a portable fan. She still needed to be coaxed though, so I was looking forward to Phyllis and Charlie's arrival.

We went inside to regroup and the girls heard Phyllis pull into the drive. After the pandemonium at the door, Charlie went straight through to the backyard. I figured Breeze would follow him right out. Wrong. She (and Dru and Willow) were too excited to see Phyllis. After that stretch of excitement calmed down, we all paraded to the back door. Breeze took one look at Charlie and went running outside. No hesitation, no tentative steps, just leaped out, clearing the patio in two strides and following him around the yard within 10 seconds. I was so grateful, I almost kissed Phyllis.

So Charlie has been here about 3 hours now and we have done many snackie treat forays into the back yard. So many in fact, Willow has almost learned ‘leave it’, Dru has perfected her ‘bow’, Breeze is going to be sick tomorrow with all that she has eaten today and Charlie is in 7th heaven after all the new snackies.

All in all a happy ending for the day. I think she will be fine and we are over this rough patch, on our last trip outside she roamed the yard by herself for a few minutes until she found the perfect pee spot. Sweet.

Charlie, hero for the day, needed to rest after all the snackies.

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