Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Bris-coe-ahhh?

Yes, I recently watched The Sound of Music, and who can keep those catchy, wonderful tunes out of one’s head? Who was hanging out in the living room with me while watching said classic film? My dog Briscoe. Briscoe is a sweet, fun and very cute dog. Briscoe also has separation anxiety. Significant separation anxiety, resulting in destroyed blinds, pulverized wicker baskets, chewed-upon door frames and the truly frightening broken window. So significant that for the past month I have not felt comfortable leaving him alone. Ever. This situation causes me some problems.

Daily doggie daycare and the kindness of friends & neighbors has helped keep him cared for and occupied while I go to work and occasionally have a social life, but these expensive, burdensome arrangements cannot go on forever. I have struggled – significantly – with this reality. My love of the rescued pet v. the possibility of having to be “one of those people” who seemingly gives up on an animal. I have had to face the possibility that perhaps my home is not the best one for Briscoe. This breaks my heart.

Separation distress is found naturally in canid species, especially social species like domestic dogs. Some trigger goes off in Briscoe’s brain and he instantly panics when faced with the possibility of being separated from a human. His main human is me. Me, Miss Independence, has a hyper-attached, co-dependent dog.

One natural purpose of separation anxiety is the importance of close contact and bonding between the family unit or pack. Briscoe’s family history is unknown as he was found with a wounded, paralyzed leg wandering the streets of Merced, CA, with no tags and no owner to claim him. Perhaps he was separated from his mother too young as a puppy? Maybe he lived with someone who used punitive rearing practices?

There are certain aspects of a dog’s history that may make him more susceptible to developing canine separation anxiety. The SPCA lists some of the following risk factors and I note if these apply to Briscoe:

• Dogs that are re-homed or adopted from an animal shelter [YES]

• Social isolation in general within first 4 months of life [DON’T KNOW]

• Significant change in daily routine or schedule [NO]

• Dogs who show acute awareness to owner’s every move [YES]

• Preexisting anxiety-based disorders (depression, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder) [POSSIBLY]

• Any traumatic event experienced by dog when he was alone [YES]

• Emotionally traumatic experience of any kind [UH, YES & PHYSICALLY TRAUMATIC]

• Cognitive dysfunction (geriatric disorder) [HEY, IT IS NOT THIS ONE!]

• Breeds that were bred to work closely and eagerly with their handler [SIGH, YES]

Over the last month I have attempted to find a suitable trainer for Briscoe (and me) to work with to build his confidence in the ever-scary world of being left home alone. This in and of itself was a challenge as I often came in contact with trainers whose own behavior could use some, ahem, improvement. Anyway, I meet tonight for the first time with someone who is hopefully the best trainer to get me & Briscoe on the path to confidence, calmness and lifelong togetherness. Wish us luck.

Monday, June 29, 2009


So I am updating this list from a very outdated post. I doubt anyone cares about this like I do, but that is why I have my own blog.

Thanks to my impending pay cut and current entertainment/travel spending freeze, I do not anticipate crossing any new stadiums off the list for 2009 (wah...wahh....wahhhhh....)

Arizona Diamondbacks – Chase Field – 2003
Atlanta Braves – Turner Field – 2008

Baltimore Orioles – Camden Yards – NOT YET
Boston Red Sox – Fenway Park – 2007
Chicago Cubs – Wrigley Field – most recent, September 2006
Chicago White Sox – US Cellular Field – 2006
Cincinnati Reds – Great American Ball Park – NOT YET
Cleveland Indians – Jacobs Field – 2008
Colorado Rockies – Coors Field – NOT YET
Detroit Tigers – Comerica Park – NOT YET
Florida Marlins – Dolphin Stadium – NOT YET
Houston Astros – Minute Maid Park – NOT YET
Kansas City Royals – Kauffman Stadium – 2004
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Angel Stadium – June 2009
Los Angeles Dodgers – Dodger Stadium – 2008 (raspberry sound)
Milwaukee Brewers – Miller Park – 2005
Minnesota Twins – Metrodome – 2004

New York Mets – CitiField – NOT YET*
New York Yankees – New Yankee Stadium – NOT YET**

Oakland Athletics – McAfee Coliseum – 2005
Philadelphia Phillies – Citizens Bank Park – 2005
Pittsburgh Pirates – PNC Park – NOT YET
San Diego Padres – Petco Park – most recent, June 2008
San Francisco Giants – AT&T Park – 2005

St. Louis Cardinals – (New) Busch Stadium – NOT YET***
Seattle Mariners – Safeco Field – NOT YET
Tampa Bay Devil Rays – Tropicana Field – NOT YET
Texas Rangers – Ameriquest Field – NOT YET

Toronto Blue Jays – Rogers Centre – 2006
Washington Nationals – RFK Stadium – NOT YET

*Shea Stadium – 2003
**Old Yankee Stadium – 2003
***Old Busch Stadium - 2004

Friday, April 10, 2009

Stupid Facebook

I never post here anymore!

Let's see in the last few months I have:

Bought a new TV and upgraded to all things HD (thanks Katy!)
Completed introductory obedience classes with Briscoe
Visited Las Vegas
Visited Urgent Care in Las Vegas (not an alcohol-related injury!)
Visited Phoenix for Spring Training
Saw the Cubs beat the White Sox (yay!)
Saw the Rangers beat the Royals (non emotional, but the stadium had delicious beer)
Saw the Padres beat the Dodgers (super yay! Yes, I am still bitter about the Dodger game for NLDS 3)
Finally got my taxes done & anxiously await my refund
Make plans to get my Iowa City condo on the market
Reconnected with many people I haven't talked to/seen/thought of in nearly 20 years...via Facebook.

Facebook is online social networking, time-spending/wasting and very amusing. You can divulge as much or as little information as you like. I have not worn tired of it yet. I still love to find out that someone I know in another time zone just ate a burrito, which 5 albums a certain person cannot live without and see photos of friends' or friends' of friends' cute little babies...or their children graduating from high school. Crazy!

Damn you Facebook! I love you Facebook!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Trip to Best Friends - Part Four & Final

I planned on visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to volunteer with the animals and enjoy some fun with my friend Bonnie. One thing I didn't plan on (really!!) was bringing home another critter. And I wouldn't have if it weren't for a poor doggie that had been

I was admiring said shot doggie as she was hanging out in the Dog Headquarters and being office-fostered with some of the staff. I was telling her how beautiful she was when this smaller, black dog came hobbling from the packed office with its right front leg near his chest, paralyzed & with an open wound. If not for that one moment, I would have never noticed said doggie (and I also wouldn't need to be buying new blinds...but more on that later.)

The dog I met had been named Inky. He was first called Mr.Stinky when he was rescued from the Merced, CA animal shelter where he had been found by one of the Best Friends dog trainers while she was visiting her family in central California. She brought him back to Best Friends knowing the odds were against him in that high-kill shelter. Mr. Stinky has a bit of a negative connotation, so she went with Inky.

During the rest of my visit, I kept stopping by that office to see Inky and spend some time with him. He could not have cared less about me. He was attached to his rescuer/foster mom. I was there when his new foster mom (the one he would spend the next month with) came to pick him up and take him home. He was scheduled to be neutered and have the right leg amputated on Christmas Eve Eve.

Long story short, I kept thinking about him (and my dream of one day having a 3-legged dog) and kept in touch with not only his rescuer and foster mom, but also one of the adoption counselors. How could I resist? I put in my application for him and since he never was in a dog run or online, I don't think I had any competition...and he was mine!

His surgery went well and his foster mom said he was only down one day - the day of the surgery - and after that he was back on his 3 legs and causing mayhem (remember the line about the need to replace blinds?) He could not go to his new home until he was at least 2 weeks post-surgery. Once he got the green light from a Best Friends vet, I made arrangements to meet his convoy in Las Vegas. Best Friends works with adoptive families all over the country and they drive many animals to the LV airport to fly them to their new homes. I opted to drive there, pick him up, and drive him back home. It was quite an adventure, and very fun (except for the dust storms and stupid Las Vegas construction, but who cares about that now?)

I re-named the dog once known as Mr. Stinky/Inky - BRISCOE. I named him in loving memory of one of my favorite TV characters Detective Lennie Briscoe of the 27th precinct on Law & Order.

Briscoe's hair is growing back and the incision is almost completely healed. He bonded to me very quickly. I have had him home one month and he is settling in well. I recently allowed him access to the kitties he at first wanted to chase, but they fortunately gave him some proper hisses and he has learned his place in the pecking order. Toby gets along fine with the new dog as long as Briscoe doesn't jump on or into Toby, or nails him with his Dr. Seuss character-like tail.

Briscoe is adjusting to his crate (though he prefers the pillow-filled end of the couch), has visited & run around the fenced dog park, made new doggie friends and has begun obedience class which he seems to be taking to with the pep and vigor expected from a spaniel mix. Oh yeah, he is allegedly two years old. And the blinds he destroyed needed to be replaced anyway. Some photos to enjoy: