Monday, June 29, 2009


A short update to say that Probert is doing well (as are the other dogs). His medication seems to be making a big difference already in his daily life and he is able to calm down much quicker in scary situations. He is really a great dog. The medication is making it so much easier for him to show it!

Tonight, some neighbors are lighting off fireworks, so Probert is trying out a shirt that the Brown Dog Dad brought home from work (a ladies cut shirt out of the damaged bin). He is reminding me a lot of Cornholio right now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy 101st!

For our 101st post (and the Brown Dog Mom's birthday - that's ME!), it's time to share some pictures that I have entitled "Big vs. Little" or "Wrigley and Addy Play Biteyface."


They are like two peas in a pod, let me tell you... :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

100th Post - Probert Problems

Wow, our 100th post! Well, funny that it is more of a serious post today. It is something that has been kicking around in my brain and our lives here for a while, though I haven't been sure how much of this I would share with the world because these kinds of decisions are often criticized by people, but here we go.

(In case people are jumping to conclusions already: no, I am not getting rid of any of my dogs.)

Probert came into our lives about 3 years ago now. He was a sweet, but skittish dog with a lot of issues stemming from his puppyhood. He had been severely abused by his previous family and was likely taken away from his mother and littermates too young. He never learned the right way to be a dog, how to interact with other dogs, and overreacted about mundane situations that he perceived as threatening.

For a few years, we were able to deal with his quirks, but in the past year he has gotten distinctively "worse." He is escaping his crate in a panic on a regular basis, becoming destructive in the crate (moving the crate to pull items in, destroying the crate itself), having obvious anxiety/panic attacks, and has attacked Wrigely and Addy with no provocation on seperate occasions. Something needed to be done.

So, a few weeks ago I called up a new vet and asked the receptionist if the doctor was OPEN to the idea of medication for these kinds of issues. I did not want to make the decision right off the bat that Probert needed to be medicated, but I at least wanted to speak to someone who considered it an option. I did not want to see a doctor who gave me the shoulder shrug and the explaination that "some dogs just don't like the crate." Our problems were bigger.

Our vet visit was on a weekday afternoon. Brown Dog Dad brought Probert and I took a late lunch at work to meet them there. We had a nice long meeting with the doctor who fully grasped the magnatude of our problems with Probert. She agreed that in order to teach Probert appropriate behavior, we needed to reduce his anxiety. A dog who is having an anxiety attack does not listen and can not learn to respond properly in any situation.

At that visit, the doctor determined that Probert likely has anxiety as a result of his experiences as a puppy. Having talked to a (human) friend who has similar anxiety about past abuse, I was surprised by how much she could relate to him. He senses something that triggers a memory about his past and he panics and disassociates. He loses all sense of his body and the present moment. Additionally, it is very likely that he was removed from his mother and littermates much too young as he doesn't know how to interact with the other dogs appropriately. He often seems to us like a "loner," when really he is not sure what the right interaction is. To add to all of that, he also shows signs of OCD, which we are trying to break (he will run around the house collecting every shoe he can find and pile them all up in the living room happily).

And so, after that vet visit and a 7-page questionnaire, we have been given our treatment program. On the surface, it is an 11-point program that involves medication, behavior modification, and lifestyle changes for Probert. We also have a big packet of papers that I have to tackle and follow their instructions. Probert started his medication this week. He is currently on a clomipramine, a medication for his anxiety that will not take full effect for 4-8 weeks and another sedative medication called lorazepam which is used during "scary" situations like storms or fireworks and is also used in the short term during those times that Probert is home without human supervision.

Some of the other items involved in the program are daily exercise and "pack walks" (walking with one of the other dogs to establish a sense of being in the pack), which are going extremely well. We will end up having to relocate Probert's crate once we determine a good location and need to work on a NILIF-type obedience program. Probert is also not allowed off-leash around the other dogs while on the lorazepam, as one of the potential side effects is "diminished inhibition" and he has a history of biting other dogs. Fortunately, we have the pack walks and he and Maizy do go out together in the morning and the evening when he hasn't taken his pill or it has worn off. Another feature, which an online friend has reported success with for her anxious dog, is that during anxiety attacks, Probert should be put in a tight tshirt to give him a feeling of his own skin as a reminder to come back to his body. We don't currently have any tshirts for him (need to shop for bully-body friendly shirts, any suggestions?), but do have the previously pictured hoodie and have been using it for now (luckily, the house is air conditioned).

Overall, I am confident that is a good prgram and is the best thing that we can do for Probert. I know that there are going to be some growing pains, but I am hopeful that we can get things under control and get our pack back in order. We are fortunate to have found a great and supportive vet and also to have loving friends and family who are wishing us the best. Thank you all so much for caring about my brown (and not-so-brown) dogs!!!

(We will make the 101th post a little more light hearted, I promise!)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Two Videos

Here are two short videos on the subject of "gimmie paw"-ing. First, Addy learning to transition her "gimmie paw" into a "high five." I think this is adorable.

Secondly, Probert giving paw. You can see that he is a very distracted little guy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Three Years Already

I feel like I would be a bad dog mom if I let the whole week pass by without mentioning that it was 3 years ago this week that the Brown Dog Dad and I lost our littlest best friend, The Great Cornholio. He is much missed, though BDD is pretty well convinced that he is living on in our lives as Probert. The similarities between those two are too unreal to be missed. The pet psychic that I saw last summer with Maizy also told me that Cornholio is still hanging around our family, though I think she meant as a ghost, not as a crazy brown pit bull. Either way, we love the little guy and he is in our hearts, if nowhere else.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Gimmie Paw"

"Gimmie Paw" is one of my favorite dog tricks. It's relatively easy to teach (unless your dog is sketched out by having his paw touched like Probert and then it takes years), interactive, and cute. Maizy knows a cute variation of this trick called "gimmie brown" and "gimmie white" in which she will hand you either her white or brown paw. Wrigley knows "gimmie paw", "gimmie other paw", and "gimmie both" (something Maizy can't learn because of her arthritic knees). Probert has just gotten over the freak out factor of my touching his right paw and will "gimmie paw", but his left paw is still off-limits to me for now. It's coming, though.

The idea of teaching a three-legged dog to "give paw" was too cute to pass up and so I have been working on this with Addy. It has been a little tougher because there is a balance element when you are picking up your only front paw. I started off by luring her face up with a treat encouraging her to pick up the front paw. It worked well and yesterday we finally perfected this trick in time to share with her instructor, Rendy at Anything is Pawsible (I failed to mention this in the last post, but I cannot recommend Rendy enough - if you are in the Chicago are and looking for classes or private obedience work, go to her).

We got home and I took a video. I need both of my hands for this trick right now, so I put the camera on a box and well, cut off her head, but it will just have to do for now.

Addy Mae - "Gimmie Paw"

**Pomp and Circumstance**

Addy graduated basic obedience last night! I realize that all of the dogs graduate, but the whole thing was just so cute and Addy was such a good girl. We started up with a "warm up" and then a "sit, stay"-off. Addy was the first to break her sit and lay down because her front widdle weg gets tired sitting up like that for too long when she doesn't think it's necessary. Oh well. After that, we played a game where we could pick an "easy," "medium," or "hard" card from a pile with an instruction on it that your dog had to do. Addy did mostly "hard" cards and didn't mess up on any of them. In the end, she won the contest and got her first pick of toys (there was a big pile of toys in the middle of the room to choose from). She tried out all of the squeeks, but pounced with joy when she found a rope with (OMG!) tennis balls (OMG!) on it! She happily played with that toy all night. Afterwards, she got some "dog cake" and her certificate. Go Addy!
The advanced obedience class starting this month is full, but we are on the list for July, so I am looking forward to it. In the meantime, I am going to keep working with her on her skills and see what new ones we can learn. I love that little lady.
Here are some pictures:
Time to go to school!?
Heading out the door.
Pit bull driving hazard (we were stopped when I took this picture, but she did ride the whole way there like this).
Anything is Pawsible has this poster up in their entryway. Definitely part of their charm.
One widdle weg.
Tennis ball!!!!!

Dog cake, please?
P.S. I have a related video to share, too, but I will do it in another entry shortly!

Friday, June 12, 2009

*itch itch*

Little sensitive Wrigley is at it again: broken out in hives! He did this once a couple years ago when we switched the dogs to a food with fish as a (minor) ingredient. By the process of elimination, we figured out that he is allergic to fish, but as he hasn't had any fish in the past few days, we're not sure what's causing this breakout. I think I might have given him a strawberry the day before yesterday, but I don't remember if it was him or Probert, actually. So, maybe no more strawberries.

We gave him some antihistamine last night and this morning all of the hives on his lower half are gone and now he just has them right on top of his back (where he didn't have them yesterday), so I guess they are working their way up and out. Hopefully when I get home from work today he will be lump-free.

As you can see, being lumpy has not deterred him from being adorably happy and alternately beggy. He doesn't seem to be that bothered by the hives except for when you give him a scritch he practically melts into your hand. Poor itchy Wrigley Bean.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Something's Missing?

On Friday we took Addy and Probert for a walk around the neighborhood. A pre-teen boy bent down to pet Addy and said, "Awwwww... I feel so sorry for you!" to her. It was so sweet. I assured him that she didn't even notice that she was missing a leg.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Four Legs Good Two Legs Bad

A friend online sent this video over to me, thinking that I would enjoy it. Boy was she right! Share it with your companion animal loving friends!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pit Bull vs Broccoli 2

As previously evidenced, brown pit bulls love broccoli. I decided to experiment and see how black pit bulls with fwee widdle wegs feel about broccoli. Apparently they think it is a stinky fun toy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Two weeks ago Addy and I drove up to Michigan. We got in Saturday night where we slept on my uncle's couch and then spent Sunday visiting some of my old haunts (I grew up in suburban Detroit) and seeing some family.

My cousin, Lauren, Addy, and me.

Mom and Rich with their new furry granddaughter.