Tinny vs. TCU, Round 2: March Badness

Tinny – 2, TCU – 0

Tinny manhandled the TCU in round 1. So we had to step it up with reinforcements for round 2.

We cut more netting and re-stapled it, getting it flush between the fence support boards so she couldn’t get a paw between the top of the netting and the fence boards behind it.  We removed the gate support boards and put the netting flush to the gate itself.  We took pieces of 2×4’s and screwed them in over the netting to really secure it.  We used anything we had on hand to reinforce the netting around the TCU, and put Tinny in it one more time.

I took her back out, filled her bowl with food, placed it in her château, and gave her a bone and a giant rawhide. She stayed in her house long enough to eat her dinner – THIS is what makes me think it’s not so much separation anxiety as it is Tinny just working up to a good “mad” for being left. If eating is more important than worrying about us leaving then she isn’t that anxious, imo. She’s just ticked off at us for leaving her. She even poked her head outside to watch me leave, then went right back to eating.

Perhaps she just recognized the need for nourishment before her next battle, since she now had a bigger job before her. And would she ever rise to the challenge. Continue reading “Tinny vs. TCU, Round 2: March Badness”

Tinny vs. TCU: Round 1

Tinny – 1, TCU – 0

As mentioned in the last post, Tinny had made short work of our first pass at the TCU, and we had decided to “beef up” the security. Since Ryan was sick, off I went to The Home Depot to pick up some galvanized poultry netting (aka: chicken wire), and a package of yard stakes.

I was sad to think of taking Ryan’s beautiful creation and “rednecking” it (I’m pretty sure that’s an actual verb) with chicken wire but… necessity demanded. Ryan came out to help but he was in no shape to be working so he measured out and cut the pieces and I used a staple gun to attach the netting around the interior of the TCU fence.

Maybe I shouldn’t have let Tinny watch the operation. She kept coming over to me while I was hunched down stapling. She would rustle my hair around with her nose like… “Mom, I could save you some time and effort by telling you this will NEVER hold me.  Just sayin’.” You may notice the mischievous look she’s giving the camera behind my back.

We allowed several inches of the netting to hang off the bottom of the fence and we used the yard stakes to secure it to the ground.  The goal was to simultaneously prevent her from accessing the fence with her mouth to chew it, and prevent her from digging by having the wire on the ground below.  In theory, this was a great solution.

It was 6 p.m. the night before our trip so we put Tinny in immediately to give it another test run.  It took her less than 5 minutes to pull most of the wire off the gate, and dig up the wire that was staked into the ground below the gate, and be gnawing on the wooden fence again.

I was ready to admit defeat at this point, at least temporarily. Since we had to leave at 7 a.m. we weren’t able to make kennel arrangements, so I called our dog sitter for help with weekend options. We use ZooMommy in Farragut and Nicole immediately stepped up and offered to either pick Tinny up and take her to a kennel in the morning for us, or to keep Tinny in her own home for the weekend (she must not be reading The Tinny Chronicles).

With that option in our back pocket, we decided to give the TCU one more shot for the night.

Next up: Tinny vs. TCU, Round 2 : March Badness

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

…You’re never gonna keep me down. I’m pretty sure this is Tinny’s official theme song now. In fact, you’ll get the most out of this post if you start the video at the bottom and listen while reading. I keep thinking The Tinny Chronicles will end soon, each time we find a new “solution,” but I’m beginning to see Tinny has other plans.

Since we got the TCU (Tinny Containment Unit) ready in time for our anniversary weekend (which we’re spending on the gulf coast), we did a “test run” of the TCU, to see what devious ways Tinny might invent to dash our hopes and dreams for a cozy, safe, secure area to house her while we are away. She did not let us down.

I had an appointment a few days before our travel plans. We filled the Chateau with blankets and some of Ryan’s old sweaters, put plenty of water and chew toys in the TCU, closed the gate and bid Tinny “Adieu.”  She was in the TCU for 2 hours before I returned. She spent most of her time inside pacing the interior of the fence. But apparently she was doing something else as well…

As I was walking down the back steps I could hear and began to see what was happening. The gaps in the TCU fence are JUST wide enough for Tinny to get her mouth around the individual boards. She was happily chomping away at the bottom of the middle three cedar boards on the gate, and had made quite the “impression” by the time I got there.

She was combining the board chewing with digging at the earth below and, given much more time, would have been standing at the back door awaiting my arrival (and that door/door jamb would have been in shreds). Thank goodness for “test runs.”

Immediate interventions included adding 2×4’s along the bottom of the gate and interior fence, but we know it won’t be sufficient. Next move is to pick up some chicken wire and staple it across the lower, interior portion of the fence, and bury a bit of it into the ground below the fence.  We’re running out of time to test any more solutions before our anniversary weekend so, here’s hopin’…


The Last Car Ride

Last Friday night was (I hope) Tinny’s last ride along in the back of my car. She’s done so well in the car for so long that I guess she didn’t want me getting spoiled. That, or she sensed the impending completion of the fence around the TCU (Tinny Containment Unit).

Without a lot of words, let me give you the play-by-play on Friday night, which will clearly explain why Ryan jumped out of bed Saturday morning and finished the fence lickety-split, and why I am oh-so-happy to leave Tinny in it on my next outing.

  1. I drove downtown to meet up with Ryan and friends for some drinks and First Friday, with Tinny in tow.
  2. Before leaving downtown we hit Coffee & Chocolate to pick up one of my favorite little cakes.
  3. I had a couple glasses of wine and was (ahem) hormonal anyway (hence the chocolate).
  4. We left downtown but made a stop in Bearden for a friend’s art event.
  5. Tinny stayed in the car, as did the chocolate cake (need I finish this list??).
  6. When I walked back out to the car and saw the cake box in shreds and licked clean… I opened the back door and just started swinging (my purse).

Not sure who was more afraid at that point – Tinny or Ryan.  And I only realized as I was getting in the car to drive away that there was a small group of folks gathered outside our last stop, bearing witness to my little tirade… folks with whom I’d just been chatting like a sane individual, not 3 minutes earlier.

So as I said, Saturday morning the fence got finished in a hurry.  The TCU is now complete.  Time for a test run………..

Going Mobile, Doggy-Style

I’m way behind on The Tinny Chronicles and I’ve been reminded of this several times. Here’s the deal: I’ve started and stopped the next post many times and it turns out I’m just worn the hell out of even talking about the individual incidents, let alone experiencing them.  So here’s a quick summary and then I’ll share the good news in the next post (no, we didn’t find Tinny a new home… at least not exactly).

After the “muzzle” attempt we came home to find she’d pulled it off in the first 5 minutes or so, and then proceeded to perform her normal wreaking of havoc on the house until we returned. We did learn of her interest in champagne that day. We also learned that the more expensive champagne bottles are more durable than our ceramic tile floor.  But, I digress.

It wasn’t long after this event we went on vacation.  We spent 8 days in Hawaii in January and Tinny spent that time in prison, hopefully thinking about all the trouble she’d been causing.  Okay, she was actually at Diane’s Canine School of Charm.  Tomorrow is the first day of March and I swear since we returned to Knoxville on January 24th Tinny has not been left at home alone even once. It FINALLY occurred to me if I didn’t want my house ripped to shreds, I simply shouldn’t leave the bad dog there when I go.

So… the back of my SUV is now a make-shift Tinny house.  There’s a fleece bed, a giant down comforter, chew toys and other such distractions.  If I go to the store, the doctor, to a business meeting, to lunch Tinny goes with me. She has spent a LOT of time in the back of my car in the last six weeks. I have no idea why Tinny is perfectly happy (and GOOD) alone in the car, but I am thankful to have found this work-around.

Two days ago I had a business meeting, then I ran by the store to re-stock on Milk Bones before heading to a business lunch.  Only as I walked back up to the car after lunch and saw the boxes of Milk Bones did it occur to me what I had done. Amazingly, Tinny didn’t rip open the boxes. There WERE teeth marks on the boxes, but they were still in the bag on the front floorboard of the car.  She was sound asleep, curled up in the back, as she normally is now when I come back to the car.

This little discovery has made life lots easier in our house.  However, we know it cannot last. While it’s hard to imagine as cold as this winter has been, we know that summer is coming and eventually it will be too hot to leave her in the car for any extended period of time. In fairness, it also hasn’t been without incident. Tinny has gotten used to having me and the car to herself. So when I had to take Hayley to the vet last week, Tinny of course had to come along. This is when Tinny decided to teach Hayley that the back of the car was Tinny’s land.

I was sitting at a red light when I was clued in to the situation. A car behind me suddenly started honking. I checked and the light was still red. As I looked in the rearview mirror I simultaneously saw the man behind me (with his own dog in the front seat), laughing hysterically, honking and pointing… as Tinny was fully mounted on poor Hayley with a “who’s your daddy” look on her face, riding high.  That man was still laughing in full hysterics, even as I pulled away from the intersection, completely embarrassed.

So as I said… brainstorming for a long-term solution continued!

Put A Muzzle On It

Armed with the drugs I mentioned in the last post, we researched online and found recommended training techniques to pair with the drugs. Some were very different from our current way of training. For example, with my dogs I have always taken a moment to say some sweet things before I leave and give them some command: “I’ll be back soon. Watch the house for me and don’t let any strangers in, ok?”  I realize it’s not what I am saying so much as that I am saying something and how I am saying it.  It seemed to offer reassurance to them that I’d be back soon.  Such was our routine.

I tried it with Tinny as well, thinking perhaps she just needed some reassurance before we left.  It did not make any difference.  The training online suggested we give her a treat or other distraction a few minutes before we leave and then simply walk out the door without saying a word, making it a non-event (in theory).

Perhaps that works for some dogs. I went out and bought a giant KONG Goodie Bone Dog Toy, Large, Red with paste and filled both ends and gave it to her. She loved it, but would drop it the minute she heard us leaving. Another note here – we’ve discovered that Ryan can leave and Tinny remain calm, but I cannot leave the house (whether Ryan is there or not) without a strong reaction from Tinny. It’s strange because she’s Ryan’s dog so I don’t know why she has developed this reaction to me. Oddly enough, Tinny has done this since she first met me. Ryan told me after the first time I visited his house (we had dinner and watched a movie) and then left, Tinny spent the rest of the evening crying. It’s bizarre.

The vet said it would take several weeks for the meds to kick in so we just tried to be patient. We moved during this time and that was traumatic enough. After getting into the new house we simply wouldn’t leave Tinny alone. We either didn’t leave or we made her ride along if we went anywhere.

Now it’s 8 weeks later, we still dog-proof to the fullest extent possible and she still manages to find something to destroy while we are gone (most recently it was a giant package of toilet paper from Sam’s – you know, the one with about 78 rolls).  So we’re weaning her back off the drugs – no sense in continuing them if they don’t work.

Our next bright idea was to try a muzzle (she looks so innocent here, doesn’t she??).  If she can’t open her mouth she can’t chew stuff up, right?  We took her to the pet store and spent lots of time carefully selecting a proper fit of a muzzle that would still allow her to drink while it was worn.  We set up cameras from all angles and performed a test by putting the muzzle on and leaving her for an hour.

Our first clue that something had gone awry was revealed the moment we walked up to the front door….

Hope Springs Eternal

With the recommendation for drugs by the emergency vet, we had renewed hope that there may be help for us.  The next day Ryan called and scheduled an appointment with our regular vet, as the ER vet had said we should do.  Ryan took Tinny to the vet without me, partially because we realized through our phone conversations that getting drugs for a dog was about as tough as getting drugs for humans.  Apparently… some PEOPLE abuse the doggie drugs by CLAIMING their dogs have issues and then they take/sell the doggie drugs.  Really, people???

I hate taking Advil, so the thought of taking drugs prescribed for animals is so foreign I can’t even imagine it. Nonetheless, Ryan being the more “even-keel” of the two of us, we decided it best that he go with Tinny alone.  There was a substitute vet there that day, a surgeon from UT Vet School.  He was especially careful and took Ryan through a litany of alternatives to drugs, including and especially a “behavioral therapist” for dogs. Ryan was sending me chat messages throughout the appointment, and I was steadily arming him with rebuttals… slowly working to wear the vet down so we could just get the drugs and move on.

Ryan admitted when he got home that day that he basically painted me as a manic psycho on the edge of a breakdown who, without drugs for the dog, would simply kill her instead. Granted, some days I came home, surveyed Tinny’s damage, and felt that way, but it was a bit disturbing to know I would have to change vets to avoid the “psycho” label in the future. Still, he knew I’d agree it was worth it.

So, after another $200 down on blood tests to be sure she could take the drugs, we waited a day or so to get the results and then go back to actually buy the drugs. This drug is called “Clomicalm,” which sounds nice and relaxing, doesn’t it? Let’s see how “calming” it really is…

Dogs, Disorders and Drugs

Tinny survived the chocolate night very well. The next morning was the day before we were leaving for a weekend trip to the gulf coast.  At that house we had the most awesome neighbor kids who would come and take care of the dogs when we traveled.  They would come down to our house about every 3 – 4 hours and let the dogs out, play with them, care for them, etc.  They did all this for $10/day, no joke.  We always paid them much more than that, because they were worth it and we wanted to keep them happy.

Since the house was on the market however, we couldn’t risk any “Tinny antics” while we were away. The neighbor kid, Dylan, was actually our impromptu real estate agent (we had it FSBO).  If someone wanted to see the house while we were away he’d come down, prep everything (hide all the dog toys and blankets), turn on all the lights and some music, open all the blinds and even bake cookies just before the showing!  I’m not kidding – still $10/day.  God we’re gonna miss those kids at our new home.

So, Hayley (the good dog) was staying at home but Tinny was going to stay with Diane (Diane’s Canine School of Charm) out in the country.  We called it “prison” but really we think she had a ball.  Diane had a dog school 1/2 mile from our house, but she loaded the dogs up and drove them 45 minutes out to the country where she had lots of land and room for the dogs to run and play.  Tinny always came home from Diane’s exhausted and filthy.

So Thursday morning I awoke early to check on Tinny following the chocolate night. She was resting soundly on the couch, saw me and hopped up, ready for the day. We did our usual routine – dogs outside, eat treats, eat breakfast, etc.  Then I walked over to the couch where Tinny had wadded up the dog blanket into a ball in the middle of the couch.  I picked it up to shake it out and it was soaked… with urine, which was also now all in the center of the couch.

Let me re-cap: we’re in the middle of buying a new house, trying to sell ours, packing, but keeping our house clean and show-ready, and we’re getting ready to go out of town the next day.  We just spent several hours and hundreds of bucks at the emergency clinic the night before and are planning to catch up this morning.  Do I need to say that I lost it?  I did.

Ryan came wandering down the stairs in time to see my head burst into flames as I shouted: Get that dog out of this house right now!!!  Without hesitation he had her loaded in the car and Tinny got to go to prison a day early.  In hindsight, and in fairness, we should have checked on her throughout the night to see if she needed to go outside.  So we’ll share that one with her.

The funny thing is that as maddening as she can be it’s so obvious that there is no malice or spite… I don’t even consider it “bad behavior” anymore. I believe that Tinny has a disorder.  When people are around she is kind and loving and attentive.  Everyone that meets her adores her.  But she can not stand to be by herself, not for 5 minutes.  We’ve tried setting up cameras to record her actions when we leave.  She spares NO time getting started on her pillaging.  We aren’t even out of the driveway before she’s up on the kitchen counters or nosing through garbage cans or any other thing she’s not allowed to do when we’re home.

So, the moment the vet at the emergency clinic said the words “you should get her on drugs for separation anxiety” we looked at each other and went… there are drugs for that??  Tell us more!  Doggie downers, indeed – why Tinny, there may be hope for you yet, sister!

The Tinny Chronicles


After many, many times returning home to find Tinny (aka: the Bad Dog) had chewed up books, chapsticks, phones, video tapes (I could go on), as well as reached up on the counter to eat tomatoes, packages of bagels, 15+ peanut bars (at once), and much more she finally pushed us over the edge last week.  Now, all you folks who consider yourself experts at dog training are shaking your heads already with lots of assumptions so let’s start there.

I’ve been training my own dogs with pretty good success for 14 years.  If my dogs are the litmus test, evidence would show I’m pretty good at it.  I’m no expert, but I’ve read and studied a lot, and practiced on my girls over the years.  People used to ask if Chloe, my first dog, had been to obedience school and I’d jokingly tell them yes: Jen’s School of Hard Knocks.  I’ve had two of the best behaved and most loyal dogs I’ve seen – and yet there’s room to argue the mixed breeds simply offered a better starting point.

So when I married a man who had a 5 year old Weimaraner I had no idea Continue reading “The Tinny Chronicles”

The bad dog and the cell phone

I finally decided to join the ranks of life bloggers and so I must begin with a (now entertaining) story from the last 24 hours. While replenishing the dog water bowls in the back yard at my boyfriend’s house yesterday I apparently set my cell phone down and left it.

I was in the car later when I noticed it missing, but thought I’d left it at my house. We started calling the phone when we got back home and listened for it in my house, in my car, in the yard… nothing. When he got back home he did the same thing there (which is where we both expected it to be). By then it had quit ringing and was going straight to voice mail (which perplexed us because it had a full charge).

In a flash of clarity I told him to go look on his partially completed deck near the water faucet. He found it outside alright, in pieces with large teeth marks through it, left by “the bad dog,” his Weimaraner. I was very angry, but soon became perplexed. Why did the phone ring for so long and then stop, indicating the phone was fine, until just before he got home.

So I pondered for a bit about how/what happened in the yard with the bad dog and the phone and have created what I consider to be a very plausible scenario, and it goes something like this…

The phone sat out in the hot sun in the yard and went completely unnoticed or at least was completely uninteresting to the bad dog. …Until it started ringing (when we started calling to try to locate it)… it probably rang a time or two and she thought… what the?? So she goes over to check it out and discovers that it isn’t only ringing, it’s also… vibrating. Wow, what a cool, interesting little toy. For the rest, I’ll let the bad dog speak for what I believe are her own thoughts:

Now, dad’s never given me a toy like this but… what else could it be? It rings and buzzes like a toy. I don’t know why it just started doing it all on its own but… I wonder if I can squeeze it like I do my other toys and make it keep ringing and buzzing like that. Hmm… so far this chewing thing isn’t reall…. OH SH**… it’s WORKING!! Hot damn… although it seems like I was squeezing in the same place just then as I was before… why did it work that time? Who cares, this is TOO cool… wait till Hayley (aka: the good dog) sees THIS… she’ll be so jeal… oh crap, it stopped again. Huh… lemme try over he… YEAH!! There it goes AGAIN… AWESOME!! Man, I am loving this thing, although the mechanism to make it play doesn’t seem very consistent. It stopped again and I’m doing the same thing. I wonder what happens if I chew on this pointy thing sticking down here…. huh… noth…. OH YEAH… THERE IT IS!! This is the most fun I’ve had in weeks. Man, I don’t even know where this came from but I hope there are more. Oh no, it stopped again. Maybe if I could get inside… how could I… OH, there goes that piece off the back… hmmm… this shiny thing inside looks like it might have something important to do with the noise… lemme OH OH OH… it’s working again!! Such a strange little toy lemme give this shiny thing here a tight
squeeze… yeah, that’s it… oh… what’s that funny smell… it smells like ice cream… I love ice cream… maybe there’s some inside… but wait… why did it stop ringing. Come on and ring again fun little toy!! Oh shoot, I guess it’s broken. Oh well, I hated that stupid toy anyway. I think I’ll just chew on this pointy thing on the end till dad gets home. Maybe he’s bringing me more of these….

People seem shocked now when I tell them I’m actually still using the phone. At the Verizon store the rep offered me a loaner to use until I could decide on an upgrade (this, after telling me my data was gone). I continued to press him on getting my data so he tried putting a new battery and… the phone turned on and the data was all there (I’ve since discovered the joys of Verizon’s virtual data storage as back up)! In the meantime, I told him I’d rather keep my phone, crazy lines through the display and all… so it LIVES… although clearly its days are numbered. Apparently I’m one of those people who develop crazy, inexplicable attachments to their phone. That, or I just love the smell of dog breath. Bad dog breath even.

(For the record, the insides of a Lithium Ion battery smell vaguely of ice cream, something you may notice the next time a dog tooth pierces your cell phone battery and you decide to smell it)