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Attention, those of you who know stuff about dogs! Becca needs help. If you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments, or you can email me and I’ll pass your email along to Becca. Thanks!

I love dogs, but never really had one as a pet, so their behavior totally eludes me. Here’s why I ask:

On July 31st, my grandma passed away. She had a Chihuahua, Butchy, for between 6 and 9 years – none of us can remember when she got him, thus we don’t know how old he is. For Butchy’s entire life, it was him and my Maw, and the occasional cat – at any given time, Maw had at least one cat living with her, inside or outside. Butchy was very attached to Maw, he knew us, and would play with us, ask for belly rubs, etc., except for my dad, he must have scared Butchy early on – we think it was because Dad would rev up his motorcycle right outside the window and Butchy would go berserk over the noise. Butchy would freeze up and give Dad the evil eye when he was around.

My grandma passed away in her home, in her sleep (a shock to us all, but that’s a great way to go). Dad found her that morning (visited everyday, they were neighbors), called an ambulance, etc. I don’t know if the ambulace had it’s sirens on, but if so, that would scare Butch. So that day there were many unfamiliar people in and out of the house – Butchy stayed in his crate all day. He wouldn’t come out at all – he stayed curled up in the back and would shake, lay his ears back, and slightly growl if anyone tried to pet him. We didn’t want to traumatize him, so we let him stay in the house, one of us went over each day to fill up his food and water and slightly try to coax him out to go potty. He never came out. He’d hide.

On Aug 4th I managed to get him to come out of his hiding place and go into his crate, shut the door and loaded him into my car. He did wonderful on the 45 min drive to the town I live in, didn’t make a peep. My best friend decided to take him, give him a home. This was really wonderful of him – none of the family members could take him due to other pets, allergies, or, in my case, work required travel. The first day Butch came out of his crate on his own, checked the place out, drank some water, and went back to his crate. Again he would growl and snap at us if we tried to touch him.

So, we didn’t try to do much with him for a few days so he could get used to his new surroundings. He barely ate, only his treats (roast beef, and cheese- this is what my grandma fed him), and drank very little water. On Saturday, we were able to get him out and take him outside, where he seemed quite happy, even lying on his back in the grass for a belly rub. Sunday, people came over, a usual thing, which really, I wish they hadn’t cause everybody wanted to talk and pet him. He of course was not having it.

Monday I went over to let him out in the afternoon, and he was happy as a pig in mud to see me. He ran some little circles, even played a little bit, and covered me in puppy kisses (which i really don’t like, but he was so happy I let him). I snuggled him and loved on him for a few hours. My friend, Josh, was at work by the way – we’re wondering if Butch just doesn’t like men. Tuesday, I went over around 3 to let him out and Butch did not approve. He growled at me, and was shaking. Later last night I went back to try again – and he was all happy again! He even took a nap in my lap! After a couple hours of lovin on him, I left.

Josh says he’s still hiding under the kitchen table or in his crate when he’s there. This morning he growled at Josh and his dad. It occurs to me, the times I went over and he was happy I was wearing my favorite pajama pants (which I wear for 3 or 4 days between washes). I don’t know what to do. I thought he would be a little bit better by now, warming up to Josh more… I don’t want to keep going over there (Josh and I just broke up a couple weeks ago, still friends tho) and I don’t want Butch to expect me to be there, I don’t want him to be attached to me- for above reasons. But it breaks my heart that he’s so scared.

He’s a really great dog – cute, smart (when told to “go get ducky” he will retrieve his duck toy, etc) and a total lap dog. But it’s like he’s forgotten everything – he seems so lost without my grandma, which makes her passing even harder. Rehoming her dog was maybe the saddest thing I’ve ever done, made her death real, I guess. Butchy is a little piece of her, and I want him to be happy and know that he’s safe.

I’ve done some research, and from what I can tell, he wasn’t socialized well…I guess, but everything talks of how to help puppies, and young dogs. Butch is gray of the muzzle, can he be resocialized? I just have no idea. Anything, ANYTHING, will be of help. I feel like, just leaving him alone should work. Time to get used to Josh- but it’s been a week… And he’s still barely eating- evident of him barely pooping. Help us if you can- or do you know of a helpful resource?

Again, if anyone can help please leave a comment or email me. Thank you!

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If I might add on fountains:

stay far away from the cheaper/regular Drinkmate. I’ll also recommend the Petmate fresh and flow. Perhaps most important: the quality of your water will drastically effect how well the fountain works. Another thing to keep in mind with fountains for anyone considering buying one… does the water fall actually splash into water? That’s noisier/etc…one of our cats doesn’t like that style (the drinkmate) but is fine with the other style (the Petmate)

One thing (well, two things) I forgot to mention about the Cat Mate fountain in yesterday’s entry is that it’s by far the easiest fountain I’ve cleaned. It comes apart simply, and there aren’t a lot of nooks and crannies that you have to scrub with cotton swabs because they’re too small for your fingers. The thing I don’t like about it is that the cord is really, really long, and since my fountains are fairly near to the outlet, I end up with a pile of fountain cord sitting next to the fountain and it’s annoying (but since the cords are covered, I don’t have to worry about the cats chewing on them).

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You’re like Oprah! I kept on imagining you would tell me to look under my chair and I would find a Ham-Mick and some Nose Offense! I can’t think of any suggestions, cat-related or otherwise, but I will cheerfully take yours. Thanks!

I thought about having a thing where people could enter to win one of each item that I mentioned, but there were a lot of items in that list. Also, it was kind of a spur of the moment topic, so I didn’t think of that until about halfway through the post. πŸ™‚

(I should have called it “Robyn’s Favorite Things”, though. Can’t believe I didn’t think of that at all!)

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You must check out this site…I’m laughing. And figuring out how to convince my cats to stay on the scanner long enough to be scanned…

I don’t currently have a flatbed scanner, but I had one in the past, but I’ve never successfully scanned a cat. Usually when the scanner started up, whichever cat that was hanging out on it would skedaddle.

I did scan the spud’s face once, though, back in 2001.

Danielle, scanned, in 2001.


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Once again great pictures…but an important question emerges: Did you paint your kitchen to go with Jake’s beautiful green eyes?

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The way you’re asking the question makes me think that there might be people out there who don’t decorate the house to flatter their cats, is that what you’re telling me?

Actually, that wall doesn’t have that tinge of green to it, in real life. It’s a cream color. And when we painted the walls, Jake and Elwood weren’t even a twinkle in their mama’s eye.

I’ve been thinking, now that we’re coming up five years since we initially painted the walls of this house, that it might be time for a repaint, if not an update (I still love the colors of our walls). When we painted, though, the house was empty and I didn’t have to worry about a zillion cats wandering through and brushing up against wet paint.

All of which is a long way to say that no, we didn’t match the walls to Jake’s eyes. But we should have!

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Harlan looks like Clove to me – could we have a side-by-side comparison? Photos are enough, since I know the Peppers still can’t enter Gen Pop.

People said that he looks like Corbie, too, so here’s a picture of Clove, one of Harlan, and one of Corbie, and y’all can draw your own conclusions. (That’s an awful lot of spotted stripey gorgeousness, isn’t it?)

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Oh my goodness Harlan is a fluffsome little cutie. Something about his head shape and expressions reminds me of this sand cat kitten.

If anyone knows of a way I can get me one of those Sand Cats, please let me know ASAP, thanks.

(I’m kidding, of course. But my god is that a cute kitten.)

I definitely see Harlan’s resemblance to the Sand Cat kitten, though. Or the Sand Cat kitten’s resemblance to Harlan. However you want to look at it, there’s a resemblance, is what I’m saying.

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The many faces of Everett Peppers.

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I love his “frosted” look.

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“I haz an angry.”

“Hmm. Everett cannot be bothered with you and your silly camera. Everett has better things to worry about.”

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“Go ‘way.”

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“If I close my eyes, you’re not there.”

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I originally thought this was Everett, but the crossed eyes lead me to believe this is actually Lucy with her floofed-up self. So, surprise! It’s Lucy Peppers!

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“Lord, it’s so hard to be this beautiful.”

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“Did I mention go ‘way?”

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“Am so sleepy… is hard to keep the glare going…”

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Cilantro, in a rare non-licking moment.

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“Who, me? I’m not up on the step to the platform! I wouldn’t do that!”

(She is, as far as I’m concerned, allowed to go up there all she wants, but she acts like she’s not supposed to be up there.)

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Corbie the beautiful.

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2010: Here at Crooked Acres, it’s business as usual.
2009: Oh, he’s so spoiled but he is SO sweet.
2008: These kittens are KILLING ME.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: Good thing he’s so cute!



8-12-11 — 25 Comments

  1. The best photos of Corbie ever — what a handsome, soulful young man. Have a great weekend! And I hope things start to go better for little orphaned Butchy. A visit to the vet, consistency, and at least a session with a dog counselor would be a start.

  2. Hi Robyn and Becca. Becca, I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother — my condolences.

    I’m not really sure if I have much advice, but here are a few thoughts I had: Has Butchy been to the vet to rule out any physical issues? Have you tried any natural calming products (maybe a vet can make some suggestions — or you can check out the ASPCA website)? I also wonder if it would help if Butchy had something that had belonged to your grandmother in his cage with him, like an article of clothing or a sheet/blanket — maybe it would keep him calmer? My apologies if these are things you’ve already done/thought of. I’m sure he is grieving for your grandmother as well — dogs are such sensitive creatures and can develop such powerful anxieties. Good luck.

  3. sigh…Corbie is beautiful…the last pose looks like he’s showing how very tiring it is to be so admired…

  4. So Friday is now officially Corbie-day? Great! Keep it up or I’ll be even more confused about what day it is! Second picture is so beautiful; is he signed up to a model agency?

  5. My mother-in-law had her dog on Prozac for a short while (vet suggested and supervised). This allowed them to “rewire” his thinking and behavior patterns as he had terrible separation anxiety. Now he no longer barks his head off when she is gone, nor does he feel the need to follow her every step. He is a much happier and healthier dog. I think this would be a possible route to go.

    Is it me, or does Everett have the world’s pointiest ears? πŸ™‚

  6. Thanks! I will check out the ASPCA website, great idea. Unfortunately, we do not know the last time Butchy went to the vet, but if there was a health problem I’m sure my grandma would have let us know. We do have a shirt of my grandma’s in Butchy’s crate, I took one out of her clothes hamper when I took Butchy out of her house. I actually took it out of the crate one day, wondering if that was why he was staying- it was not. He will slightly sniff the shirt when it’s presented to him. Thank you all for the suggestions- and if anyone can think of anything else, don’t hesitate to say it, I really don’t know what to do with a little dog…

    • I’m no expert on dogs on dogs, but from watching Cesar Millan on ‘Dog Whisperer’ often little dogs are allowed to be ‘pack leader’ because they are cute. And even if he wash’t before, the death of the old leader means that someone must lead now. Add to that grief and the humans surrounding him acting sympathetic and indulgent instead of as a strong leader and this can lead to behavior problems.

      You might get some ideas from him – what I’ve seen is very impressive.

  7. That middle pic of Corbie is wonderful. Beautiful eyes and you can see his even more beautiful soul.

    I wonder about that dog, if he’s older than they realize. I know that pet senility/dementia is a fairly recent study but I imagine with the recent upheaval if he’s especially becoming confused by everything going on in his life. People coming in and out, etc.

    Sounds like the poor boy is struggling to remember things day by day. I like the idea of the worn clothes in his crate or area to help familiarize him.

  8. I feel bad for saying this, but those black kittens look so EVIL! (I mean, ridiculously cute evil, but evil. That Everett could kill you with his eyes.) I don’t think you’ve posted too much about their personalities – what are they like?

    About Butchy – chihuahuas are extremely loyal and emotional dogs. They get very, very attached to and protective of their owners. Obviously, the total upheaval and loss of familiarity would be traumatic and difficult for any animal, but even more so for a chihuahua. I might suggest contacting a chihuahua rescue – not to rehome him (unless that’s something you think you might need to do ), but to ask their advice. Rescues deal with this type of emotional trauma all the time and I’m sure they would be willing to offer you help and guidance. And if you do decide to rehome him, I would STRONGLY recommend doing so through a rescue rather than a shelter. A rescue will place him in a foster home with people who are familiar with chihuahuas and it will be much less stressful for him than a shelter. Good luck!!

  9. Butchy may need a female owner–someone who telecommutes or is retired since he’s used to constant companionship. I agree with contacting a chihuahua rescue for advice or rehoming.

  10. My cat Luna was frosted like that when we got her. Her tail even looked like a raccoon tail! That’s how we named her, those little white hairs along her back made me think of moonlight on a lake. Anyway, she doesn’t look like that anymore, her tail is just fluffy solid black, along with the rest of her. Well, brownish black. Also, I have a white cat that had two teeny black spots on her head when she was born, then just one, now none at all. Her mom had a few black hairs on her head when we had her (we fostered her out & kept 2 babies) and I’m assuming she also had a larger spot that was slowly going away. What’s up with that? How is it that they can change colors like that? Anyone know?

  11. Lurker here, feeling a bit self-conscious about suddenly posting my opinions, but I have some experience with dogs (elderly and fearful ones) and do a lot of reading about their behavior and cognition, so I thought I’d give my input as well.

    I would definitely not give up the hope of Butch eventually adjusting and living happily with Josh. It may take a LOT of time and repetition — elderly dogs take much, much longer to learn new habits and emotional associations. I think it’s not at all unusual that he’s still acting like this a week in.

    I’d make sure he has as stable and quiet an environment as possible, a safe space to retreat to (sounds like his crate serves this function,) and as many positive experiences as possible with his new male caretakers. For example, as long as he doesn’t absolutely refuse to eat anything unless a woman gives it to him, it might help if all of his food comes through Josh and/or his dad. At the same time, the male humans should try very hard not to give him any more reason to be afraid of them – don’t push Butch’s limits or force him to do anything stressful if it isn’t strictly necessary. This way he can learn that the male humans in his life aren’t dangerous but are actually dispensers of Good Things. Because he’s older, this could take a very, very long time, but from your description I don’t think it’s too late to change the way he feels. (I successfully used this technique to erase my dog’s fear of my mother, but she was only 1 year old at the time and also EXTREMELY food-motivated.)

    As an aside, the fact that he’s growling at them isn’t, in my opinion, something to get really discouraged about. He’s most likely communicating his inner discomfort and fear. I don’t think it means he won’t be open to those emotions being changed. There’s a video from a trainer I admire that may be applicable: http://lowstresshandling.drsophiayin.com/dvd/samples/givingtreats.php

    Now… even though I think you could very well get Butch adjusted to his new home with enough time and work, I also understand if the people involved end up not being able to — it can be hard work to help a fearful dog readjust and even HARDER work to help an older dog. If you reflect on it and think it might actually be best for everyone involved (humans and dog) to rehome him, I’d echo the other commenters who have suggested doing so through a rescue. A breed-specific rescue might be particularly helpful in this case. If you decide to take this route, don’t feel like you’ve failed Butch or your grandmother — you’re looking out for her loved ones’ health and happiness.

    But on the other hand, if you and Josh’s family really want to get Butch happy and comfortable where he is, I don’t think it’s impossible.

    • Thank you.
      I just contacted a rescue about his behavior. Butchy isn’t food motivated, but he will eat from my hand, not Josh’s. I understand it will take him a long time to adjust- we will be patient. It’s just breaking my heart to see him so scared. We (my family) don’t want to let him go to another family, to someone we don’t know, but I understand that, after a long while, if he isn’t happy he should go to a rescue for his own sake. He acts happy when I’m with him only if I’m wearing a certain pair of pajama pants- I don’t know if he would do well with me though, because I travel a lot for my work. I would take him though, if I knew I would be home with him everyday, not just 3 out of 7 days…. But again, thank you all, and keep it coming! I’m researching everything.

    • me too but as I can’t leave a comment on Dorfy’s blog I can’t tell you…boo-hoo…

      • Oh, wait, this comment was suppose to be up there in reference to Dorfy not the sand kitten – not that i wouldn’t want one of those, too, but…oh, forget it!

  12. Harlan Peppers!! You are so gorgeous!! Good grief, such cuteness with these Peppers!

    Aww but Corbie – you are truly beautiful!!

    Take care

  13. My moo cow cat is white and frosted black. I keep wanting to pluck his white furs from his black, but I so far have managed to resist the desire.

    Becca – so sorry about your grandmother and her puppy dog. I would definitely take him to the vet even if you don’t know which vet your maw took him too (maybe a female vet!). I also agree that Josh need to become the pack leader of Butchy. If you get the National Geographic channel – what a couple of episodes of the Dog Whisper. Cesar is awesome and it doesn’t take many consistent actions to turn a dog around quickly.

  14. Butchy update- I spent an hour with him, outside, today. At first he wasn’t thrilled to see me, stayed curled up by his crate on the porch. I picked him up and we sat in the grass. A female friend of mine came out and as we were talking Butchy perked up. He perked up fully. He would even go to her after a few sniffs. We brought his food and water out into the grass, he drank and ate a bit, he loved on both of us, he was totally putting on the charm- we even trimmed his nails!! A male friend came outside, and as soon as he spoke Butchy clammed up again. He didn’t relax until he saw the guy go inside. He also froze up if I got out of his sight. So-I think he’s afraid of males, we can work on this, and attached to me. This is promising- now I can ask the dog whisperer how to shake his fear of men. And I will absolutely take all of your suggestions to heart, I’ve been researching all day and checking out the websites you’ve all suggested. Thank you all so much! I really had no idea what to do, and you have all helped so much! The kindness and helpfullness of strangers I’ve seen here really just warms my heart. I’m so emotional now, and getting mushy… I love you all for helping me! Especially you Robyn!

  15. Becca,

    Try Patricia McConnell’s books/ website/ blog.

    You can also search the audio archive of Calling All Pets, which was a call-in pet advice + animals are cool show she used to co-host. I’d be amazed if there wasn’t at least one show on separation anxiety or helping a new animal adjust.

    I’d trust her over Cesar any day of the week.

    Good luck.

  16. PS: that Corbie sure is a movie star! His second snap reminds me of Dorfy’s ‘I haz great beuty’ shot on her blog but i guess her mum will never know that cos i can’t leave comments.

    you have stopped laughing at me now, right? Stupid spam filter! since when am i spam? Hm!