In 2002 we ran away from Illinois where we were born and raised, and started a new life in SW Florida. This blog is about me (an eccentric old artist), ROM (my Real Old Man), Isabella (our neurotic Standard Poodle) and Emmy (our crazy snake killing Jack Russell Terrier). Oh- and the neighborhood old people. Life is good in Florida!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Bitch Just Isn't Wired Right...

Those of you that tweet with me on Twitter know that my dog, Isabella, is a neurotic mess and deathly afraid of thunder, lightening, and even light rain showers. She must sense the pressure dropping because she'll start freaking when a storm is still hours away. She's also afraid of wind, strangers, garbage cans sitting by the curb, farts, fart sounds, fireworks and any loud noise. There are many more things she fears, but that gives you an idea. As a puppy she was afraid of the dark and shadows. You could not get her to go into a dark room, let alone go walking after dark. For some unknown reason, one day her fear of the dark and shadows disappeared. 

Unfortunately, her other fears have stuck with her. When people notice her usual fears and strange behavior, they ask me what's wrong with her and if she's been abused. I try to explain to them that she has a free floating anxiety disorder, has never been abused and I have no idea why she is the way she is. Or if I'm in a mood I say "The bitch just isn't wired right".

We've tried all the desensitizing techniques but nothing has worked. Once she goes into her panic mode, it's impossible to get her to focus on anything other than her over whelming fear. I can't even get her to look at a ribeye steak when she's freaked out, let alone coax her with treats past a strange car parked in the street. Her fear of storms has gotten so bad the vet put her on xanax, and it really helps but doesn't relieve all the anxiety. Without the xanax she shakes so bad she can't even sit up and drools large puddles. With the xanax her shaking is much less and she doesn't drool, but she lays in a certain spot in a hallway against a wall while staring at the opposing wall.  And she does love her xanax! When she senses a storm coming she paces and sits in front of where her meds are kept. I keep warning her not to like her meds too much or I'd have to send her to rehab with Amy Winehouse, Charlie Sheen, and Rush Limbaugh.

Last night she suddenly developed a new fear. When I took her out for her last potty walk about 2 a.m. I saw that a heavy fog had enveloped everything. As we walked out of the house and Issy saw the fog, her tail went down and she started backing up. Never mind that she's seen, been fine with and even walked in fog many times before. She's suddenly terrified of fog, for some reason that only she understands. I had to drag her out into the yard long enough for her to pee, and then she quickly bolted for the door to get back inside the house.

Once back inside she wanted nothing to do with her usually relished late night treat. Nope- she went right to her special spot in the hallway and struck her anxious pose. She wouldn't even come to bed with me when I finally gave up trying to distract her. And there she stayed until I got up this morning, took her outside and she saw that the fog was gone.  Suddenly all was right again in Bellaland ... but there's fog predicted again for late tonight.

 She may be a crazy, but she's my crazy and I adore her....


  1. that dog is high strung, but she is also spoiled rotten and a little addicted to Xanax. I know, I know, that is your baby!

    Can you believe that the fragile dog found an owner like you?

  2. isabella just proves what i've long're just an old softy at heart! but...your secret's safe with me!

  3. Colibrimoon- If she goes on the Piers Morgan show talking about having tiger blood I'm cutting off her xanax

    Jayedee- Shhhh... keep that quiet, but I'm only a softie with animals. Now we have to worry about not only storms, but even fog. What next? Will she suddenly be afraid of sunshine?

  4. Hi ROH,
    I have 2 dogs, German shepherds. The female is neurotic, gets scared in thunderstorms, whimpers in the back seat when we go out, etc. She's very intelligent, understands me when I tell her "go get your buddy" she goes & brings him in. The male is loving, adored by everyone that meets him. He is ferocious barking outside at everything he sees, but it's all show. Licks everyone to death, once he meets them. So when the female is in her annoying mode, I tell her in a firm loud voice "shut up, girl, be quiet. No whining!" Now she knows I'm in charge, and she quiets down, even in the car. Works like a charm. She's an alpha dog so once you exert your authority over her, she's not afraid. Pretend you are in the military, use the Sarge's works.

    Your Isabella does sound spoiled. Do you speak to her in a loving tone when she's scared? Then she will think that she has to be alpha, protect you & that might be what's worrying her. You be the boss. It might surprise you that she is comforted by your taking charge. Dogs are not like people. Guess who they think is in charge here? My teenage son that yells at them, & us LOL. And both dogs adore him over my husband & me!

    To assert your authority, always make the dog sit to go out, sit to be fed, etc. Never let the dog sit on you or be at your level (then you no longer are top dog). Do not let them go out the door 1st, they follow you. Always. You would be surprised at how well this works. I love playing with my dogs, throwing toys that they fetch, etc. They get a lot of petting and kisses from me, but they know when to pay attention & do what I ask. Oh, and eat first in front of your dog...if you feed them 1st, you are showing them that they are more important than you are in the pecking order.

    Let me know if any of this stuff works...good luck!


  5. Awww, poor baby. You must feel so helpless to comfort or calm her when her anxieties overwhelm her. At least she knows you love her and are always there for her, wired right or not.

  6. Anonymous- Actually Isabella is very well behaved. Unlike our JRT, she never whines. And she's been doing sit, stay, down, and come on command since she was 6 months old. She even knows the hand signals for all those commands. I taught obedience classes for years so all our dogs are always trained from an early age. We aren't "yellers" and prefer to train our dogs with positive reinforcement so they respond on the first command. Due to solid training when they were young, we don't need to yell or nag with repeated commands before they respond.

    Isabella in not an alpha dog, in fact she's the opposite- submissive. Our JRT, on the other hand, is definitely the alpha dog. I've had dogs all my life and have never had a dog with such terror issues as Bella. And no, we don't baby her during one of her episodes, just continue to act in our normal way so as not to reinforce her fears. It's just the way she is, much like people with phobias and anxiety issues.

  7. Poor Bella!

    hehehe.. lol at Coli's comment ;-D


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