Brindi’s sentencing is coming up next week, and although I am not involved anymore, it is difficult to ignore. So, here is another post, in case you are not bored of it yet. What I don’t want to do is to rehash what has been said in the past numerous times. If you want to read Brindi’s story from two points of view check out http://dogkisser.blogspot.com, http://freebrindi.blogspot.com and http://novascotiatruth.blogspot.com.
I want to talk about Brindi from a professional and rational point of view.
I met her once, at the SPCA sometime last year, when I was asked to assess her.
Back then, and I haven't seen her since, I found that she was well cared for and not stressed, which surprised me cause many dogs cooped up for months are, but Brindi wasn't.
I also found her to be very responsive to my assistant and me. I was able to handle her, put a new harness on her, she offered lots of attention and eye contact and refused to play a rough housing game I initiated (for assessment purposes - I am against rough housing with dogs), so was not at all confrontational and competitive with people, even in a playful way.
I requested, for assessment purposes, to be able to take Brindi out of her run to the fenced back area (which was granted immediately) to see how Brindi reacts to the other dogs in their runs we had to pass by, and she did not react, but also did not look at them, which indicates that she was somewhat nervous but able to contain herself, likely because by then other dogs and situation were familiar to her.
I had my own dogs with me for further evaluation. At that point my assistant handled Brindi inside the fenced area, and I handled my dogs outside, so we played it safe but at the same time were able to get a fairly true account what the issues are. Brindi was alert when she first saw my dogs, but was easily redirected by my assistant and shifted her attention from my dogs to her, and willingly followed her, walking away from my dogs.
Then they came nose to nose, with only the fence in between, and had some polite and fluid-bodied sniffing. Brindi was also able to share treats, with her and my dogs all in a sit position, which indicates that she is also not competitive with other dogs.
She did react as soon as we walked away with lunging and barking, so there is clearly a problem with dogs in motion, and possibly also dogs that are unfamiliar to her, and it likely originated somewhere in the past when she was chained. Restraint frustration can lead to erratic lunging, barking and a possible attack when there is opportunity (dog gets out of a collar, leash or tie-out breaks, there's a hole in the fence or the gate open, or whatever). Many dogs that are/were chained or left unattended in a fenced yard or dog run are reactive, and that is why I am dead-set against it.
Based on all of the above, that is what I believe Brindi needs in the future:
To belong to someone cause she is people oriented and willing to take her cues and guidance from a person.
To be managed properly. That does not mean a muzzle and fenced back yard. Although both can function as extra safety guards, as long as Brindi is able to fence run or chase a dog because she got away, the behaviors that got her into trouble will continue. In addition, even with a muzzle and fence she can still intimidate people and dogs, and potentially, inadvertently injure a person knocking her/him over.
Managing means being in the house with the owner and leash walks on a collar and harness for better control (so two leashes), and to not be off the leash or unsupervised in a fenced yard or dog run.
To desensitize her to the problem stimuli – other dogs in motion, and dogs that appear suddenly. That triggered the reaction in the past and during my assessment and that appears to be Brindi’s only issue. That, in many cases, is doable but can take time and effort. That is why managing her conscientiously until suddenly appearing and moving dogs are irrelevant in Brindi’s mind is paramount.
To shape a default stress coping behavior - I'd choose walking away.
Brindi lived in how many places already? Provided Brindi is released, I wish for her to find a stable and permanent place to put her food bowl down and hang her leash up. Not one who'll kennel her a few months into the relationship to go on vacation or something. That is tough - Mike and I haven't had a vacation without the dogs since 1999 when we got Davie.
The million-dollar question is if Francesca Rogier is able to do all that? That’s what the judge has to decide next Tuesday and I concur with Joan Sinden – a difficult task and I am glad I don’t have to do it.
I will say that much though. If Brindi were my dog, and there would be someone who could give her all she needs, I’d choose that to euthanasia. And trust me, I love my dogs. Ask hubby Mike. You could offer to pay my mortgage and you wouldn’t have a chance at them.
But if you love them, and if there is no other way for them to be happy, set them free.