Neuroses – Mine or Hers?
Let me introduce our new family member! Brie is adopted and has been with our family since the summer. Personally, I think she has the most beautiful brown eyes and lovely black hair. She doesn’t look anything like us. Brie is still such a little girl and turns 4 years old in January. She’s integrated into our family fairly well, considering she was adopted at this age, but she still isn’t close to my husband. It’s like she wants to please him yet he isn’t too fond of her. He’s made it very clear that they will never have a close relationship. He’s a cat person. Brie (did I mention this to you?) is a dog. A beautiful Scottish Terrier.
From the beginning, we noticed that Brie had some mildly neurotic behavior. Not psychotic, mind you. She’s fully in touch with reality. But some of her behavior is slightly out of the norm. Her previous family adopted her when she was just 1 ½ years old and she had been abused prior to that. If we stretched out our hand to pet her, she ducked her head as if she’d been hit. Holding or rubbing her feet caused her to want to get away at times. She barked at thunder and lightning, running around the back yard looking at the sky, as if it was the enemy. One would think in this situation that she was a Rottweiler in disguise as a terrier. She’s ready to rumble.
I would have hoped she would be a great guard dog, learning that Scottish Terriers are quite possessive of their family. Brie, not so much. She sits happily in her chair looking out the front window to the street, calmly watching people walk by our house without a sound from her. But if there is a cat at the END of the street in someone else’s driveway, she goes on Full Alert. Whining, barking, running over to us to inform us of this critical situation and that she needs out to take care of it. NO cat or animal creature is allowed anywhere on the street or in their own yard. That’s her job. People, burglars, hooligans – that’s all fine. Not her job.
Another noticeable neurosis is her speed, or mode of operation. Brie has three modes. One is her usual calm, slow, observing speed. She doesn’t get excited easily. (Except if it’s another animal.) Her next speed doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s like someone has tied a firecracker to her tail and she’s madly running away from it. I call it her “dog on crack” speed. Suddenly it occurs with no known cause. She runs in the living room, tail tucked under, gaining speed on the carpet, into the entry way, sliding on the hardwood floors, just barely missing buying the farm into the wall, again getting traction on the carpet in the homeschool room, only to turn around and repeat. It’s crazy. She runs madly around, sliding, getting her speed up, grunting at times, low to the ground. It lasts maybe 2 minutes at the most when she suddenly stops in the living room and sits down. Done. No explanation obviously needed. None given.
Her last mode is called “Stealth.” It occurs when she is in the back yard, usually sniffing around for where the latest gopher is digging underground in her territory. We crack open the back door and yell at her to come inside. She jerks her head up and looks at us, obviously hearing us. She stands. She goes into her stealth mode, thinking “If I stand really still, I’ll blend into the scenery and they won’t see me. Eventually they will leave.” We yell again. She stands. We yell again, not happy at all now at this stupid dog. She’s not moving a muscle or even blinking. I don’t even think she’s breathing. This behavior is not acceptable for a dog. Commands are NOT optional. Who does she think she is?! It causes us to go back inside the house, track down a pair of shoes, sometimes grab an umbrella as it’s raining outside, and then literally stomp out in to the yard. By this time, OUR “anger mode” is happening. We have to get within a yard to confirm to her that she is NOT invisible, and shoo her into the house, where she runs inside like she’s in her “crack mode.” No beating has occurred, mind you. It’s often thought about, frankly. Stupid dog.
The way I think about life is that we ALL need therapy at one time or another. I specialized in mental health nursing as my master’s degree and have worked with individuals, couples and families. I’m not practicing now, but am fully using my mental health skills on my family, in homeschooling, and now on this dog. We’ve tried the “clicker” method of dog training. We’ve tried the positive reinforcement with petting and treats. Lots of treats. We’ve tried kenneling her when she’s behaved negatively in situations. Nothing is really proving that it works. Brie’s neuroses are still there. All the techniques in my arsenal have been tried, so I’m beginning to think the problem isn’t Brie. Am I feeding in to her neuroses with my own neuroses? Hmmm.
Anyone know of a cheap shrink that works with people and their dogs?