Monday, August 1, 2011

Lynne & Brian

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Brian, my 8 year-old Boston Terrier. I'm Lynne, and work as a 911 Operator/Police Dispatcher in Charlotte, NC. Off-duty I enjoy anything related to the outdoors, especially gardening. Much of my time is spent working on my 75 year-old bungalow just outside of Charlotte and spoiling Brian, but occasionally take off on my Kawasaki Z750s for some much needed speed and scenery therapy. I started a blog for the bungalow project so my out-of-town family and friends can keep up with what I'm doing.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I have to be at work at 7am, I don't take much time in the mornings to sit down and relax before the commute. On my days off, Brian and I spend breakfast on the front porch while we plan our day.

What's brewing?

I have black coffee or English tea while he chooses the perfect sunny spot for a nap. He's discovered the serenity of a rocking chair, whether he's alone or in my lap "sunny-side up." I have to be careful where I sit the tea or else he'll sneak a sip.

Any treats for you or Brian on this occasion?

My treat is the serenity of being out in the country, away from the sights and sounds of Charlotte. Brian gets to be "SunnyBrian" which is a treat in itself, and he may get a nibble of my fruit or oatmeal.

How were you and Brian united?

Brian was adopted from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control in November 2004 after being brought in as a stray. The veterinarian guessed he was about a year-and-a-half old, but he was only thirteen pounds despite being a tall boy. The first time I saw him, I cried so hard at how withdrawn he was; he wasn't even treat responsive. He seemed glad to see someone, but was really scared and smelled like a dirty horse and his coat was horrible. I sat in the floor with him in the visitation room, and held him to closely my chest and talked to him. He stopped shaking and dozed off for a bit, seemingly comforted. I took a few days off from work upon his adoption, to help him get acclimated to the other Boston in the home and to try and pull him out of his shell. As soon as he walked into the house, he stretched, shook head-to-tail and acted like he'd always lived there without an ounce of shyness. It was like bringing home a totally different dog than what I'd witnessed at the shelter. He knew he was home. He quickly gained to a healthy twenty-one pounds and grew a beautiful shiny new coat. To this day, I'm sure he remembers being held at the shelter and comes to me when he's tired or upset and wants to lie down on me, always on his left side with his head on my chest.

How did they get Brian get his name? Any aliases?

Brian's full name is Brian Jesse and was named for the two supervisors working on the day he was adopted; Bryan and Jessica. I decided to change my Brian's spelling to make it easier. He has a ton of nicknames but the most common are B and B-R. Those were started as a way to talk about him without his knowing, but he picked up on it. There are drawbacks to having a smart dog!

I understand Brian recently had some neck surgery. How's the recovery going?

He's doing extremely well! He was diagnosed with Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease and had surgery within two days of the onset of his symptoms. A neurologist with Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Matthews, NC performed the surgery on cervical discs 2-4. We couldn't be happier with the outcome! Brian is almost back to his regular playful ways but has to be reminded to calm down since his rehab and recovery will be ongoing for some time. The incision is on the front of his neck and took eleven staples, so he'll have a sexy scar to show off to the ladies. Who knows what kind of story he'll make up to go along with it. Unfortunately, I think he's seen the end to his vole hunting days, since the vigorous digging won't be good for him. He's earned another nickname of Bionic Brian since part of him had to be rebuilt and reinforced. This incident also made me especially appreciative of having a health insurance policy on him.

Does Brian have a favorite place to go for walk?

He loves the rare visit to my mother's house in Tennessee where he can watch the cows and horses. He's fascinated with her Percheron, Kate. She's so big I swear he could fit half into her nostril. I think he feels a kindred spirit with the cows since he looks like a mini-moo, himself.

You ride a motorcycle: ever think about getting a sidecar for Brian?

I don't. While it would be great to take him on rides, his safety is far more paramount than having him with me on the bike. I occasionally see someone with their dog on the back of their motorcycle or scooter and it really infuriates me (even though one of the dogs I've seen did look pretty cute in his leather outfit and turtle-shell helmet). It makes me wonder if the motorcyclist is doing it more for attention rather than the simple joy of having their buddy with them. Our dogs' safety is our solely our responsibility and I could never forgive myself if I crashed with Brian and he was injured or killed. A sidecar would be fun for him, no doubt, but I just can't do it. Heck, he even has a booster seat to secure him while he's in my SUV. Call me overprotective, I guess.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Yelling "Squirrel!" always gets his attention and has from the very start. My boyfriend cracked up the first time he saw a serious reaction to shouting "squirrel" where Brian can go from a full sleep to high alert in about half a second. He said it was like a Whack-a-Mole. Brian's learned since living in a more rural area, where he doesn't always have to be on a leash, not to chase the squirrels. If I tell him, "No, easy" then he's content just watching them. Still, just the mention of the word "squirrel" even in normal conversation makes him look around suspiciously. Brian absolutely abhors cats and I have to do a "cat check" for the neighborhood stray if he's going out unleashed but, like the squirrel encounters, he's learning that "No, easy" or "Leave it" applies to cats, too.

What is Brian's best quality?

His intelligence. It makes him very easy and enjoyable to communicate and interact with. He understands so much of what I or others say to him. Boston Terrier owners are well aware of their dog's intelligence and sense of humor but I like to think Brian's still above average. It's impressive how easy he is to take with me wherever I can because he is extremely well-behaved and easily adaptable to his surroundings. He isn't one of the hyper/bouncy/overly-stimulated Bostons so his being laid-back definitely helps when he's in public. And, he's having to learn some new routines since the surgery, including using steps to get onto and off of the sofa and loveseat instead of jumping. He also can't sleep with me anymore for the same reason so he has his new "big boy" orthopedic bed beside my bed. His smarts are making the transition much easier to break the almost seven year's worth of jumping where he wanted. I think he understands, though, and is adapting well.

If Brian could change one thing about you, what would it be?

He would change my location to live closer to his Granny (my mother). She talks to him over the phone occasionally and mails him gifts so he's quite aware of exactly who she is despite her being eight hours away. Sometimes when I'm going to call her, I'll ask him, "Wanna call Granny?" and his ears go way up and he gets the head tilt and gets all wiggly as soon as he hears the word "Granny."

What is Brian's proudest moment? His most embarrassing?

I can't think of a single proud moment that stands out but his pride is obvious with each new trick or skill he learns. Six is his magic number; I can show him six times how to do something and on the seventh time he will do it on his own. The look on his face and the way he sits up or struts around proudly when he shows me he can do what I wanted is so precious. Brian's most embarrassing moment was a few years ago and I would have paid a week's salary to have gotten on video. He's a very fast runner and where I used to live has a sloped back yard. He had gone out to potty after a hard rain and the grass was slick. After finishing his business, he took off like a streak down the back yard toward the house, but lost his footing. He was going so fast that he couldn't get stopped and slid down the hill on his side into a muddy area and crashed into a loose straw bale. When he got up, he looked around as if to see if anyone saw even before he shook it off. I ran over and picked him up to make sure he was okay but was also laughing unbelievably hard. Fortunately, he was fine but had red clay mud all down his left side and it was even in his ear, mouth and nose! It was like witnessing a sprint car that lost control and was probably a whole lot harder to wash!

Visit Lynne's Laura's Legacy blog.

--Marshal Zeringue