Good-bye to Bravo

February 22, 2008

bravo-sm.jpg

Some of you know Bravo from training classes over the past several years. Some of you know her from watching the Constructional Aggression Treatment DVDs. She is the brindle Greyhound that worked as a decoy. She was the fine dog this column was named for.

This week Bravo was trying to get up from her bed and her leg suddenly sustained a spiral fracture, a break that should have taken a lot of force to cause. She spent a night with our vet before we opted to see a veterinary surgeon. I spent quite a bit of time sitting on the floor with her yesterday late afternoon, just talking and stroking her ears, her favorite thing.

It turned out that Bravo had bone cancer (osteosarcoma). This is a leading cause of death in Greyhounds. Because she has had a series of health problems lately and it was estimated that with amputation we could probably expect another 4 months with her, we decided that we could give her a gift of freedom from pain.

My 20-year-old son, Jesse, and I went to the surgeon’s office and spent some time with her today although she was sedated. We were with her when she was helped to go. It was a peaceful end.

Bravo came to us at Christmas of 2001, a terrified, overwhelmed, severely underweight Greyhound with very little experience of the world. She suffered from separation anxiety until my husband decided to just not lock her up when we left the house. After that she did just fine.

On her first day in our home, a cold winter day, she took a drink from my water garden, then walked forward and found herself in 2 feet of water and no understanding of how to get out. She learned how to get in and out of the water garden after that, and on warm days laying in the pond was one of her favorite ways to cool off.

A few days later we approached a Papillion and her owner on a walk and Bravo crawled inside my coat and wrapped herself around and between my legs. She was terrified of the small dog. Our cat, Mouse figured out that he could torment her by walking behind her. She was afraid of him too.

But those early frightened days didn’t last. Bravo soon discovered TTouch and became a big fan of attention from humans. The first time she saw children was at the vet’s office. Two tiny tots looked in the window. She went to them and looked them up and down, rubbing dog snot on the window. She adored kids forever after. Bravo loved all people. She loved nothing more than greeting new people and inviting them to rub her silky ears.

On one occasion at the dog park a big, beautiful Borzoi arrived and was surrounded by a gang of Goldens and Boxers who were up to no good. Bravo trotted into the fray from across the park, got in beside the Borzoi who was bucking with fear, and put her nose to the ground. She walked peacefully along until he got the idea and imitated her. The Goldens and Boxers stopped, shook themselves off and backed away. The Borzoi, still bewildered, went about his business of sniffing the park. Bravo came to me, exhausted and ready to go home.

Bravo was the lead decoy dog for the Constructional Aggression Treatment procedure, working with a lot of scared and angry dogs to help them find better ways to deal with the world. She did important work and she did it well.

Bravo came into this world in April 1999, bred for a life as a racing hound, but she didn’t spend long in that life. She was better suited to keeping the yard cleared of squirrels and making sure she had the first choice of dog beds and making sure there were toys all over the downstairs of the house, just in case.

On her last night at home she slept on the couch cuddled up next to my husband, getting her ears rubbed, her very favorite thing. The next morning she ran outside and around the back of the house, the important first act of any good day. She came in and ate, and found her way to her bed in my office. After a short nap she tried to get up and her good old bones just couldn’t hold on any longer.

~~

Some of you have asked what you can do to remember Bravo. The best gift of all would be a donation to ORCA, the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals, at the University of North Texas. Write ORCA in the subject line and “In memory of Bravo” in the memo line.

Mail your check to:

ORCA Treasurer, Department of Behavior Analysis, P.O. Box 310919, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203-0919

Bravo

April 1999 to February 22, 2008

Adopted into her family on Dec. 22, 2001

Kellie Snider, BS, MS

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January 7, 2008

Buster

Background Music:  I heard this song called “Let’s Go Trick or Treating Dressed Up Like Marylin Manson” by Self over the weekend.  It cracks me up and I can’t get it out of my head.  So even though only I can hear it, that’s what’s playing.

I visited Operation Kindness in Carrollton, Texas last week with Mike Glass, a dedicated and devoted volunteer there to work with one of their dogs.  The staff and volunteers really go the extra mile for their animals. While I was there I met a little dog named Buster.  A very small Chihuahua. Three pounds at 7 years old.  He is the cutest little thing you ever saw, and coming from someone who is really a big dog kind of person, that’s saying a lot.  Alas, he may have some trouble with a back leg.  Stay tuned… or better yet, visit Operation Kindness or a shelter in your area. If you are in the market for a pet you’re sure to find one.  If you’re full up, just ask and see what kind of help they could use.  D0nate your old towels  or a few bucks, clean cages, walk pooches… there is always something needing doing when caring for homeless animals.  Even campaigning for the adoption of a special animal is important work!  There is a guy in our town who goes to the Animal Control in our city and takes pictures of the pets and posts them on Petfinder.com to make sure they get the widest exposure for adoption.  What’s your talent? 

So, we’ve had this guy painting our house and there are a couple of days left to go.  Then some flooring guys come in.  Wish us patience and luck.  So far it looks very good! 

Kellie Snider, MS

www.animalbehavioranswers.com