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The Aftermath

DSC_0051(Adriana)

I’m worried about Adriana. My independent little soul is depressed. Bee’s attack shook her up pretty bad. It’s breaking my heart to see her so down. She won’t play at all, particularly with Bee. Every time Bee tries playing, Ade hunkers under whatever is closest. Last night, tired of watching her pout, we took her to Dairy Queen for a pup cup, then for a slow stroll where I let her sniff whatever she wanted. I’m really, really trying to stay mindful of my behavior at home and act like nothing has changed. I don’t want Adriana to suffer long-term fears over Bee’s attack. I also don’t want her being afraid in her own house, which makes me wonder if Bee should continue living at the Farnival. Am I risking my animal’s safety by letting Bee stay here?

But what about Bee? She has nowhere to go. I spent a long time on the phone yesterday. First I talked to ICHBA’s head honcho Donna. Donna and I both agreed that euthanizing her has to be on the table. Donna said, “How can we adopt her out knowing about this?” And she’s right. Then, I talked to Bee’s first foster mom Miss Judy. Miss Judy said Bee had several aggressive incidents when she stayed at her house. The worst was when Bee attacked her other foster dog Duke. Unlike Ade, Duke has backbone, and it turned into a brawl. Judy is a small woman, about five-feet tall. She wasn’t strong enough to break up the fighting dogs. She had no option besides helplessly standing by and letting them go at it. Luckily, Duke outweighs Bee by at least twenty pounds, and he pinned her down. Judy also thinks euthanizing Bee is a responsible decision. Judy kept repeating, “Melissa, we can’t save them all.”

But then, I look at Bee, and I can’t even imagine going through with it. 99% of the time she’s just a high-energy dog, which means 1% equals a death sentence? Is euthanizing her the only responsible decision? I’m really struggling with this one. What happened to the good old days, when my biggest problem was Shady Shae pooping on the couch? Sometimes this dog rescue business straight-up sucks.

Let’s Talk About Aggressive Dogs and E-collars

Bee chair

We finally broke down and put an e-collar aka shock collar on Bee last night. We’ve witnessed aggressive behavior on several occasions, but we were easily able to correct her. Her outburst yesterday was way over the top. Frankly, yesterday’s behavior qualifies her as a borderline red zone dog because it was dangerous.

Mason and I were sitting on the deck, enjoying the pleasant temperatures of a late summer evening. As usual, Meadow, Adriana, and Bee were throwing down in the mosh pit. Occasionally, we’d glance at the dogs playing, but mostly we were enjoying the sounds of the numerous birds chattering back and forth, the cicada’s underlying buzz.

Adriana’s frightened screeching broke through our peaceful evening like a car alarm. From my chair, I saw Bee on top of Ade. I don’t know what started it, but Bee clamped onto her neck and whipped Ade’s head back and forth. Our deck sits at the top of the yard, about fourteen feet off the ground. Bee and Ade were fifty yards away. It took Mason fifteen seconds to get off the deck and down to the yard. The whole time Ade’s screaming got louder and louder. Those fifteen seconds felt like a hundred years, every second ticking like a decade.

Finally, he grabbed Bee, wrenched her off Ade. Adriana bolted for the rusting swing set, taking cover under the sliding board. The second Mason released Bee, she shot at Ade, clenched onto her ruff and shook her like a ragdoll. Some trigger had gone off in Bee and she wasn’t stopping until she inflicted pain. Bee outweighs Ade by twenty pounds. And Ade isn’t a fighter. She assumed the same submissive pose wolves have assumed for hundreds of years, crouching down on her back. But Bee wouldn’t stop. Ade’s weakness only infuriated her. She just kept attacking.

By the time Mason got Ade in his arms, I was in the yard, my sight zeroed on Bee, who circled Mason and Ade. I tried grabbing her, but Bee is way faster and easily skirted my reach. Even with Ade in Mason’s arms, Bee wasn’t done. The moment she lunged at Ade, I got a hold of her and threw her down, pinning her against the ground. I’m not a strong woman, but adrenaline is like a power surge, and someone was hurting my girl. Bee instantly submitted.

As soon as we got everybody inside and calmed down, Mason dusted off the e- collar and strapped it on Bee. I’m thrilled to report that Ade is fine. Her neck was pretty bloody last night, but the wound isn’t nearly as bad as it initially looked. She’s been avoiding Bee, but who could blame her? As far as Bee is concerned, I’m worried about her future. Who is going to want a dog with that kind of trigger? Who is going to be responsible enough to handle a dog like her? Ninety percent of rescue agencies in the United States won’t accept a dog with aggression issues. In the worst cases, euthanizing them is the only option.

I’m trying to remain hopeful about the e-collar. I keep thinking about Todd Langston’s advice. He says e-collars can produce amazing results, even with the toughest dogs. Let’s hope he’s right because I don’t even want to think about the alternative.

Bee Lou Lou, Our Newest Foster Dog

for sure(Adriana and Bee Lou Lou)

Miss Judy and I started discussing moving Bee Lou Lou, a homeless yearling, to the Farnival a week ago. Judy is a middle-aged seamstress that fosters dogs for ICHBA. She’s a sweet southern woman with a quick smile and a balanced approach to animal rescue. She knows how and when to say no. It so happens that she cried uncle on Bee. The yearling’s energy levels are too high for Miss Judy and her pack of elderly dogs. But we decided Bee would be perfect for our own young mutt Adriana, who has been terribly depressed since Rosie was adopted.

Adriana and I drove out to Judy’s clapboard farmhouse on Friday, passing a thriving landscape of fluctuating green foliage, more greens than I ever knew existed. Ade slept in the backseat, curled up like a noodle. The second I took a right down Judy’s gravel and asphalt country road, Ade hopped up, slapped a kiss on my cheek, as though thanking me. Sticking her whole head out the window, her small white ears flapped like flags. In my rearview mirror, she looked like she was smiling. Bee Lou Lou and Ade are walking buddies. Ade knew exactly where we were headed.

Shutting Judy’s storm door behind me, I heard Bee before my eyes adjusted to the living room’s dusky light. Bee was napping in her crate, but when she saw me she wagged her tail, slowly at first, then working up speed until it whapped against the metal bars of her cage. Mason and I have been leash training Bee for a few weeks, and every time she sees us, she acts like its Christmas and we’re the Claus’s.

I stood patiently, waiting until Bee calmed down before I motioned for her to sit, attached her lead, then signaled for her to follow. She did everything perfectly…until she hopped in the Honda and saw her fellow gangsta’ Adriana. They instantly started throwing down mosh pit-style.

It’s forty-eight hours later, and they still haven’t stopped playing 🙂

A Dog’s Intuition

It was relatively easy to choose which dogs to take on Tony’s last walk yesterday. I went with the “Smith Street Family,” deciding on his mother, Dawn, and his half-sister, Adriana.

The plan was that once we finished our four-mile hike, we would drop T-bone off at Donna’s so she could transport him half the way to Indiana, where she would meet with his new family. Leaving the house for the last time with Tony meant gathering his food, blanket, leash, and paperwork.

Normally, once the dogs hear their leashes jingling, they group by the kitchen door, waiting to go to the car. But yesterday morning the second I grabbed their ropes, Adriana and Tony bolted in the opposite direction, through the doggie door and into the backyard. They ran to their favorite play spot, my old garden, and sat there, side by side, not moving a muscle when I called and called for them.

Over the past five months, as Tony matured from a nursing puppy to a thirty-pound hellion, his friendship with Adriana grew stronger and stronger. Those two became a pair of original gangstas, chasing down moles, chewing up sticks, digging holes, eating worms, tearing up flip-flops, rolling in mud, and staying in the yard until well after dark. Without a doubt, Ade will miss him the most.

I had held my tears in check all morning, but when I saw them sitting in the garden, as though protesting, I lost it. I don’t know if Adriana and T-bone were responding to me collecting Tony’s things, or if they smelled my anxiety and sadness, but they were acting like they knew when we left Tony would never come back. I felt both angry and awed. I was mad that they were making leaving so hard, but I was amazed at their intuition.

Finally, I walked outside, tears in my eyes, wanting to keep them all but knowing I can’t. Tony and Ade stayed still as statues while I leashed them up, not moving until I led them to the car. Once inside they curled up together on the too-small passenger seat and spooned for the entire ten-mile ride into town.

t-bone(Tony and Adriana spooning, April 25, 2015)

Cabin Fever at the Farnival

DSC_0555(Tony)

Snow, ice, and slush have blanketed yards and roads for over a week in middle Tennessee. That’s unheard of in Nashville.

At first, Mason and I loved it, acting like teenagers, stocking up on frozen pizza bites and sledding down the backyard. The dogs were just as delirious, careening after us and through the white flakes like they had found a new toy. Our joy lasted for several days.

But, over the weekend, when nobody could walk because a new storm had carried in several inches of ice, making surfaces as slick as a skating rink, everybody’s mood took a sour turn.

After a brief attempt, even the dogs gave up trying to play outside. Instead, unexercised and bored, they started raising hell inside. For two entire days, it was complete chaos. I went from reprimanding one dog to the other. At some point or another, I caught Tony munching on my I-phone, Adriana chewing up the remote control, Meadow jumping on the stove for a treat I’d forgotten about, and Dawn rooting through the bathroom garbage, searching for something, anything to tear apart.

Thankfully yesterday morning we were able to start walking again, making eight laps around our trails in the woods, and things have calmed down considerably. I know I’m not the only one – human or dog- thinking this, but I’m really ready for this winter to be over.