Sunday, May 28, 2017

Service Dog People II


Charlie has been wearing the exact same look for the last four years.

The placement counselor at the Humane Society was right. I had a lot of dog on my hands. Now known as Brockle, my new boy was a whirling dervish. He would sprint the length and back of the off-leash area in Garden of the Gods seven, eight, a dozen times before I finished half of the two-mile loop. He tormented the other dogs non-stop. He didn't bite, but he yipped and bullied. Charlie, my good old blue-collar rat terrier, was horrified.
In the house, he paced an endless loop, checked every window, made sure I was where he left me, cruised the backyard and started again. I'm pretty sure I know why he was returned by his third family after barely 12 hours.  Brockle spent his first evening in our home repeatedly trying to hump every single human in it. We explained to him pretty damn quick how we felt about being humped and it was the last time the subject came up. He ate nothing, but dribbled diarrhea everywhere for days. 

He latched onto me with everything he had. I couldn't shift my weight in a chair without having his hot nose poking me to see what was up. He walked with his muzzle against my leg, everywhere. He searched my face and looked deep into my eyes every chance he got. I timed him one day. We made intense eye contact 30 times in five minutes. I couldn't blame him. He had been dumped three times before he turned a year. Separation anxiety much?

Then there was the bad stuff. He went nuts in the car, barking and snarling at every dog he saw. Our first walk on-leash ended up with me laid out on the ground, where I rolled up the leash until I pinned  him and stopped him from tearing the head off a passing dog. The same thing happened on our second walk and the third.

My close friend, Susie, came over to meet the new dog. She came in the front door, unannounced as usual, her sweet Lab, Mandy, at her heels. Brockle threw himself at the new dog with a roar. I ran up and pulled him off poor Mandy and he air-snapped, just missing my face. It was time to ask for help.

I made an appointment with a trainer, Jim Beinlich, whose regular column I read in our local newspaper. His posts were intelligent, well-written and made sense to me. I explained my situation.

   "Do you think you're in danger?"  

   A great first question if you ask me.
   "I don't," I said. "I may not understand him, but he's not attacking for fun. He hasn't threatened any family member, human or animal, since we brought him home. There's a good dog in there, but I don't have a clue how to coax it out."

Jim specialized in protection obedience  and scent work. He wasn't cheap. It was going go be tough to find the dough, but curiosity and my gut told me Brockle was worth the investment. We arranged a first lesson later in the week and I put down my worry. Part of the reason I  wanted another dog was I desperately needed a project that didn't involve illness, bills and sadness. Brockle soon proved himself worth every dime spent on lessons and then some.

Parkinson's Disease messed with me constantly. One of the biggies was chronic insomnia. I've never been much of a sleeper, but now it was crazy. Being my S.O.'s sole caretaker wasn't helping much. His stroke had left him a very different man, frightened and seeing terrible things in every shadow. I still blame my decision to adopt Brockle on chronic sleep deprivation.

One murky 2:00 a.m. I wandered down the hall for the hundredth time. This time, I crashed. It was the first episode of many, I still deal with it today. I felt dizzy, barely had time to think, Uh Oh, before I did a face-plant and passed out. The P.D. seemed to have squashed the ability to save myself in a fall.

I oozed into consciousness snorting a nose full of dog hair. As a matter of fact, I was pretty much blanketed in dog. A big, pointy nose snuffled my dog-slobbered face. Brockle had pressed his entire length against me as I lay unconscious on the floor. I struggled to sit up and he let me lean into him when the room began to spin. We sat on the floor with our foreheads pressed together. He stayed quiet and still until I felt strong enough to get on my feet.

Then he went outside and jumped poor Charlie.


  1. Poor Charlie! I bet he is grateful, in his own doggie way, for trainer Jim. Brockle certainly is a dynamic individual, looking forward to the continued adventures. What an amazing adventure to bring a dog like that around as much as you have...

  2. You are like Brockle to me. Such a challenge sometimes. So worthwhile. And on some days such a lifesaver.

  3. Wow, Mugs. Just Wow. Glad we have known Brockle for a while before hearing all this. We already know it works out. You sure are the Woman of Steel when it comes to engaging in life.

  4. DeeDee, I was so sad. I missed my horse, I missed my job, I was not born to be a 24/7 caretaker of an ailing spouse. Brockle was an enormous challenge, one my stagnating trainer brain really needed.

  5. Gosh, I missed your stories so much!! I swear you could be writing about the phonebook and I would be equally waiting each new post. Even better when it's something as fascinating as you writing about Brockle. I've said it before, but he reminds me so much of my young collie boy - he was such a handful as a puppy and I often found myself thinking that most people would have dumped him at a rescue. Sad to think that Brockle DID end up in that boat. My Timber is the best dog now & such a sensitive, intuitive, fantastic dog. I can't imagine life without him at this point. He's got ta caregiver spirit & needs a sun around which he can revolve. So glad you two found each other and I can't wait for the next installment

  6. I am so over the moon happy you're back. Love your stories.

  7. Been away for awhile and came back to see how you were doing. Nice to see you are revisiting Brock's story.