Friday, April 26, 2013

I do believe in fairies, I do! I do!

...and pixies, and ghosts.
I believe Bruce has a guardian angel,

Nothing short of  divine intervention, 
so I am giving thanks.

Not long after Bruce returned from doggy boot camp,
 he got into a fight.

Dog owners will nod at this: 
You've been there.
Your dog gets into a fight in a park and it's a disaster. 
Owner screaming, hitting, 
people watching and your dog is in big trouble. 
Little chewed dog was not hurt at all, 
but owner was after blood.
 Local council gets a dog attack report
 and Bruce gets a visit from the rangers.
  I'd missed all his signs trying to tell me he was anxious

I realised Bruce was having panic attacks. 
Suddenly his reactive behaviour fell into place. 
He isn't aggressive with other dogs - he is terrified!

Living with panic attacks myself for over ten years, 
I felt awful that I was pushing Bruce beyond his comfort zone
 and not making his environment safe. 
It was like saying to a person who is afraid of spiders
 to touch one and be cured. As if!

When I called  the doggy specialitsts
I expected to wait weeks. 
The lady could fit me in that day
 due to a cancellation.
Off Mr Bruce went to a doggy shrink.

And the best dog shrink in town: Sydney Animal Behaviourists
Human shrinks are a third of the price,
but Bruce had the full deal.
We ruled out  medical things with a blood test and physical.

 We learned how to help him feel safer and
 calm until his medication kicks in. 
Yes. Doggy Prozac.

 I want Bruce to enjoy being outside,
 not be terrified of what's about to come round
 the corner at any minute. 
Thank you to great blogs like fearfuldogs blog 
 for helping me understand.

 Back to the big scrape  and our embarrassing incident.

  Now here's where good stuff begins:
When the rangers arrived, one was Chilean. 
Two good friends have just 
returned a three month stay there. 
Even though my charm button was turned on all the way,
 I wasn't going to say, 
"Hey I have two friends from Chile, you might know them."
 It felt lame, so I shut up.
The other ranger's name was 'Denise'.
 My name. 
She petted and played with Bruce the entire interview.
 So far so good.

yep - missed these signs as well.
 If I'd have read them, he'd never have been pushed
 into too close quarters with another dog.

Australia takes dog attacks seriously.
 All a dog has to do is look scary 
and it can be interpreted as a "dog attack" here.
Knowing Bruce already had a his rap sheet 
we took pre-emptive action. 
Maybe this was where I was finally listening to Bruce. 
We got help.

Dog shrink recommended the best trainers 
for anxious dogs in Sydney, again up to six weeks wait.
"I'll give them a call in any case," she says.

When the lovely Dr Caroline calls,
 they ask what type of dog Bruce was.
 "Oh, she said, I have a special place in my heart for Am Staffs. 
We can fit him in this Saturday."
So Bruce got help fast.

our trainers gave us a series of gentle exercises
 to boost Bruce's confidence and keep him calm
 till the doggy prozac allows the white noise in his head
 to settle down enough 
to learn some new ways of dealing with stress.

 Now every night I roll up special doggy canapes
 with his meds - cream cheese balls  rolled in chicken jerky crumbs. Yummy.

All this pre emptive work was in place BEFORE the rangers arrived. 
We could demonstrate how we were handling Bruce
and that was a major relief. There was a fine - $550.

 That would have been the end, 
had it not been for our Chilean friends.
 A picnic in the park the next week with lots of friends 
and dogs running about brought a ranger van
 rolling across the park towards us.
 Who should pop out, but the same ranger.
On goes the charm button chemically enhanced by two glasses of bubbly,
 but my friend had already spotted him. 
Not only did they know each other from Chile, 
 they grew up in the same neighbourhood
 and knew each other's families well.


Chilean ranger stayed and chatted in Spanish,
 and let me know Bruce's $550 fine may not come for a while.
I have a feeling Bruce's fairies will be helping on that one too.


  1. Oh Denise I am so glad Bruce has such a loving advocate in you guys. This is a lovely story with a happy ending - and lots of great info re dog behavior. Thanks!

  2. OOOooohhh.... I have a friend with panic attacks too and I'm claustrophobic so can vaguely understand.
    I love Bruce. Please kiss his nose for me and give him a big cuddle too. He's Superman really.

  3. What a difficult time, but it definitely looks like things are on the up and Bruce is so lucky that you believe in him and he is getting the help he needs for a calmer life! I'm going to read up too because I think my Alfie can be quite nervy of other dogs, but his way of dealing with it is brazen it out and to go into full-on, in-your-face play mode which can rile other dogs at times!


    1. Yup, Dotty,
      Worth looking inot. When I beagn to read Bruce's body language through the help of the trainer, I could see so many small doggy signs.. heaps of U tube videos to watch there...

  4. Buster and I send lots of love to Bruce who maybe had an unhappy childhood.
    You seem to be doing all the right things to make him feel better.

    So glad the little dog was not injured because that would be really upsetting.

    My favorite childhood dog loved his family but hated white poodles.....
    this story does not have a happy ending because they did not have dog shrinks back then.

    Loved seeing pictures of Bruce too!
    Hooray for Prozac which helped me ages ago!


  5. I experienced panic attacks all through my 20's. Poor Bruce I'm so pleased he's getting help. Don't stop believing ... the faeries appreciate it .... Sarah x

  6. Gosh thank goodness all appears to be going to plan - for you both - and gawd bless them angels!

  7. What an interesting post. And I love that the Chileans knew each other. I have a new artist friend and she and I realized that almost twenty years ago we both lived in Orlando Florida on the same street at exactly the same time. She was only about 4 houses down from me. I love that. It's like we missed our chance to meet then, so the world brought us together now.
    So glad you love your Bruce and have help for him. He's adorable.

  8. it's hard being a dog in a whirled full of people.
    you guys and Bruce are so lucky to have each other. thinking the fairies had a hand in that, too

  9. Interesting and helpful post! we are struggling with the same issues with our bullie rescue and have a wonderful trainer who specializes in helping to understand and treat aggressive dog behaviour. It all makes perfect sense once you understand the signs...glad you have been able to help bruce become more comfortable in his surroundings. dogs are the best....we just need to learn what they are telling us!

  10. What a great story and what a wonderful new header! Love it!

  11. Gosh, D' and Bruce have had a ROUGH week of it!

    He's so lucky he has you: someone else might not have taken the time to realize he was actually scared! (B/c, he's a big boy + his breed, etc...)

    My sis-in-law has a little guy-a TORTURED 'rescue' (read, swiped by a concerned person.) He would attack EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.
    Then she took him to a dif vet who suggested the doggy Prozac, and it's been A-MAZ-ING.
    Completely different dog. People respond to him differently, too.

    Anyway, hugs to you both.
    Thank you for post on this-it was very interesting-looking forward to happy updates. :-)

    XOXOXO Treena

  12. I, too, believe in fairies. And I love when answers come. A good story, Bruce landing with you, just where he needed to be. xo

  13. Great story (and well-written, as always); thank you. How delightful that Bruce is being so well cared for - his story has touched me deeply since he first came home with you; I'm so happy that you've all found each other.

    Sometimes conventional drugs are a very good thing.

  14. Thanks for sharing Bruce's story - he's very lucky to have you and he's such a lovely boy. I can totally relate as the (very nervous) owner of a very nervous dog - who's coping at the moment by avoiding other dogs - not difficult as we live out in the sticks, but not the best way to deal with it I know.... you've encouraged me to do some work. Christine x

  15. 'nuff respect Bruce...from the Boodle, oh and the Lane girl -x-x-x-

  16. Oh, wow.
    What a wonderful story.
    I mean... in sum.

  17. This is a very satisfying story, Denise. As we wait for our new dog - a rescue from northern Labrador (which is sort of like saying northern North) I want to know how to best care for the new critter. It will be (like Bruce) an adult or close to when we get her (hoping for a gal this time) and it will be stressed. It will have lived on the streets in a community which solves the huge dog population by getting the guns out. It will have survived a very harsh winter. Hmmm ... After my dear dear dog Hoagy died, I read a wonderful book called Merle's Door by Ted Karasote. It radically changed how I'm thinking about our companion beasties . Hoagy never bit anyone but he got into a few (on leash) scrapes and I was always nervous of him doing serious harm. He was one half- sharpei and they were bred to fight. Also, he was a runaway - or so I thought. Now I'm changing my mind about that. So much to learn from dogs. So very much. Thanks for this story.Jan Morrison

  18. Great story Denise! How lucky Bruce is to have you and vice versa. Love. And I do hope that fine didn't make it to you! x

  19. Hi new 2 this blog thing. Anyway on here to say that as a dog owner and lover dogs should have a fair go. Especially little dogs. They should b able to go to shopping centers and go shopping with their owners. You don't see mothers leaving their kids outside when they go shopping. So why should owners leave their dogs tied up outside. Dogs have a should have a fair say. Also other thing dogs r not dirty. Its like saying human babies r dirty. Dogs r humans as well. From Chloe


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