Posted by: bree1972 | November 17, 2011

A Book, A Storm . . . and a Little Bear Drama 11/18/2011

Happy Friday Everyone!

So much to write about today, which means I’ve had a busy week.  Let’s get started!

Book Update I finished reading “My Name is Mary Sutter”, and it was awesome.  I highly recommend it – IF you’re not turned off by graphic battlefield and hospital scenes.  The story is really good, and “Mary” is a heroine you won’t soon forget.  Next up on my reading list is the new Nora Roberts book, “The Next Always”, book one her Inn Boonesboro trilogy.  After the Civil War saga of Mary Sutter, I needed something a little lighter this time, and Nora Roberts always delivers a good page-turner.

I love my readersThanks so much to those who emailed yesterday and this morning checking on us after the bad weather we had here in Georgia.  I sat on the sun porch with Maddie and Bear and watched that front move in Wednesday afternoon.  It seemed the weather radio went off every five minutes, announcing severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings all around.  We had 15 minutes of really black skies, wind, thunder & lighting and rain, but the really bad stuff went north of us.  Our prayers go up for those who lost loved ones in north Georgia and North and South Carolina.  It’s really, really late in the fall for tornadoes around here, but it’s also been unseasonably hot – although the storms ushered in much cooler weather for today.  Yesterday at this time it was 83, today it’s 64.

Bear - chilling out in our hallway.

Bear, Happy Jack, and Charlie.  Does this look like a psychotic dog to you?  Nope, not to me either.  But if you’d seen him yesterday traveling back and forth to Albany for our first Animal Assisted Therapy dog session since we returned to Georgia, you would have shouted, “Valium!  That dog needs Valium!”  Just for fun, I tried loading him on Tuesday – and got nowhere.  Ted had to help me urge him in.  So, knowing Ted would be out of town on Wednesday, I called Ed (our neighbor down the street) and asked if he’d be on standby for me Wednesday morning.  Ted left at 5:30 a.m. to pick up veterans in Albany and take them to the Dublin VA hospital.  I called Ed about 8:45, and said, as soon as he answered, “Could you just come on down?  I know Bear’s not going to load for me alone.”  When he could get a word in, Ed said Sally had just called to tell him she’d hit a deer, and he was on the way out the door to help her (Sally is fine – their SUV not so much) – which called for Plan B.  I dialed our neighbors, Joe and Kay, two doors down and asked their visiting nurse if she’d come down and help me (she’d told me when we visited last week that she’d had golden retrievers in the past).  Thank goodness she wasn’t busy and hurried over.  With me standing at one back door, and Teresa nudging Bear at the other back door, he jumped in.  Then, for 40 miles, he was a nervous wreck – same story coming home, although he loaded more easily after we worked in Albany.  So we’re back to square one on that.

I’m so thankful that Bear doesn’t let the jitters affect him at all once he’s out of the car.  We worked yesterday at the Albany Advocacy Resource Center, an adult day

Marty Harris and Happy Jack.

care facility for mentally and physically challenged men and women.  Bear was so glad to see Happy Jack, Marty Harris’ therapy dog.  I thought they were both going to wag themselves into pretzels – bodies and tails were going every-which-way!  He also got to meet Charlie, the therapy dog I wrote about last year when his owner, Pat Howard, passed away.  Charlie now lives with Happy Jack, and both Marty and Betty Hester have passed the Delta Society certification program to work with Charlie.  Charlie is a 14-year-old sweetie-pie terrier-mix who doesn’t look a day over eight or nine.  He is precious, and he was working with Betty yesterday.

Little Charlie with owner Pat Howard last year. Charlie now lives with Marty and Happy Jack.

Watching the three dogs work was joyful and heart-warming. The adults in the center look forward to these once-a-month visits so much, and as soon as we walked in the door, and the dogs were spotted, the news traveled through the building like wild fire.  “The dogs are here! The dogs are here!” was shouted down the halls, and people converged in the sitting area to take their places on couches and chairs so the dogs could cuddle up to them.  From there we went next door into a larger area, where people were gathered around tables.  We walked the dogs to each person, chatting whenever it was possible to turn someone’s attention away from the soft eyes and silky fur of our four-legged angels.  We handlers just basically hold on to the leashes and let the dogs do their work.

Happy Jack is a bundle of quivering . . . happiness.  He has a smile on his face all the time and just looking at him makes

Betty Hester and a yawning Happy Jack. Betty is certified to work with both Charlie and Happy Jack. Delta does not certified individual persons or dogs. Only "teams" are certified - one human and one dog.

me, and anyone who sees him, feel better and have a much happier day.  Charlie, the elder statesman in the group yesterday, is quiet, laid back and pure “cuteness”.  Bear is usually the largest dog in any group, as he was yesterday.  His size makes his head readily available to people who are seated – in chairs, on couches, or in wheelchairs.  The dogs visited with around 20 people in the large room yesterday, spreading the love to each and every one.  I have no idea how Bear makes the choices he does, but there always seems to be at least one person in every group that he wants to spend more time with – yesterday there were two.  He returned to each of them several times for special bonding, pressing his head into their laps and lighting up their faces with the most beautiful smiles.  The sweet lady said, “He really likes me, doesn’t he?”, and the gentleman kept saying, “I love you, Bear.  I love you, Bear!”

As annoyed as I tend to get with having the Bearster be such a “beast” loading for each visit, the joy he seems to bring at each location makes it all worthwhile.   I’m very, very proud of him.

Prayer RequestReader Judy from Ann Arbor, MI commented this week on the Mackinac Island blog that her husband, Dave, has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time in four years.  I hear from Judy regularly on that blog, and I know she reads this one too.  Let’s all keep Dave and Judy both in our prayers over the next months and lift Dave up for healing.


Reading on the deck on an 82-degree day in November - only in the South.

So glad I snapped a photo of this poplar tree down near the water while it still had its golden leaves. After the storm yesterday, not a single one remains.

Sometimes it really pays to get up early . . . . and I’m so glad that Ted does that!  Especially on mornings like this one a few days ago, when the sunrise was really something to see!

The lake at sunrise . . . . motionless, quiet, peaceful, serene.

As it grew lighter, fleecy clouds floated in . . .

. . . and - reflected on the undisturbed lake - sky and water soon mirrored each other exactly.

I’ll see you back here on Monday – just a few days before Thanksgiving!  God bless.



  1. Sneakin’ a peek while my students try to find the differences between two pictures! I love hearing about the Dog Therapy! Maybe I should look into that for Gary and Lady.

  2. I will certainly keep Judy and Dave in my prayers.
    I love hearing about Bear and your work together. Just wish Bear would learn to get in your vehicle without all the drama.
    Glad to know the storms went north of you. Now I need to check on my cousins in the Atlanta area.
    Have a great weekend.

  3. Prayers going out for Judy and Dave.

  4. The Lake at Sunrise — what about entering that in an exhibit or photo contest?

  5. My prayers go out to Judy and Dave, When did bear start being like this just the other day? How was he going back home from MI. Could it be from the storm coming in? I enjoyed the pictures as always. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I will be cooking at home Heather is coming home from U of M and some of my family is coming down so we should have a wonderful day too! Tell Ted I said Hello and give Maddie and Bear a big hug for me!

    • Started last winter, Denise, when I bought the new SUV. No problem loading him in Ted’s truck all summer, but anytime last winter – and now again this winter – I try to load him in MY vehicle, he balks. It had gotten a lot better by the time we came to Michigan last spring, but now we’re starting over again. The only thing I can figure out is I bought the new ride while he was at the groomers and picked him up in it, with a car full of passengers. He had to ride in the back compartment, and I shouted at him once when he tried to climb over the backseat. I think he’s just totally traumatized with THAT SUV, but I can’t afford to buy another car to satisfy his problem (sigh). Have tried everything I can read about to try (last winter), but the only thing that worked was staying calm and just letting him adjust at his own speed to getting in and riding in it. I feel so sorry for him because he just can’t enjoy riding.

  6. Your pictures of the sunrise are spectacular. There are two reasons I don’t have sunrise pictures….1) I’m on the wrong side of the river 2) even if I were on the right side of the river, I’d never be up at sunrise….so I’m thanking you for the pictures… They are really something maybe I’d like to see one day.

  7. I’ll keep Judy and Dave in my prayers as well,

    The only thing I can think of to try for Bear is maybe take him for a ride in the SUV to a place down there that he loves to go. Keep taking him back there and spending time with just him and not Maddie or Ted, just the two of you like when you are going for Therapy. Maybe then when he sees that the SUV is for nice places as well he would be happy. Also, I don’t know if you would be able to do this next spring, but try taking the SUV when you come to Michigan, he would then associate the car with something great.

    Loved the story too of Bear, Happy Jack and Charlie doing their Therapy work.

  8. I will keep Judy & Dave in my prayers also.
    I’m glad you were able to get Bear in the SUV and that he was able to lift spirits and bring smiles to faces! Your pictures are so beautiful – Happy Friday!!

  9. The SUV phobia is very familiar – wonder if there’s something that the dogs only can hear that’s upsetting Bear? My dear friend travels with her Bichon all over the place – in her Ford Escort that she had for years, Louis was fine – she got the new Ford SUV (an Escape I think) and Louis acts exactly like you’re describing with Bear. We thought at first it was the noise from the snow tires as that’s about when it started last year; but come spring when the summer tires were re-installed, he was still (and is still) upset – yet he doesn’t seem to mind other vehicles. Curious little creatures, aren’t they? As for the therapy dogs, how wonderful. I had two dear cousins in Ypsilanti MI; the husband was ill so they had to make the decision to go into a nursing home / facility. They had dear Nicolas, a wee black poodle. Fortunately, this home took dogs. The husband died, Nicolas made it his mission to take care of the wife. Sadly, she died soon after. Long story short – Nicolas stayed at the home! With no special training, he became the in house therapy dog. He can tell when a resident might need some special company, and even seems to know when it’s time to say goodbye; he’ll leave his bed in the wee hours of the night to go and cuddle with someone as they depart for heaven. He’s a very special little fellow. And it’s a fantastic facility that recognizes the value of the canine companions. Have a good weekend. Take care.

    • What a wonderful story about Nicolas, Deb. Dogs are the most amazing creatures. In researching Bear’s phobia, I’ve read about what you described (a noise a certain vehicle makes that only dogs can hear). Interesting . . . .

  10. I have to admit that there are two things I really love this time of year, sunrises and sunsets. I’m usually up every morning to see the sunrise and they are soooo pretty. I love how the clouds and water meet in your sunrise picture…it’s like they are one. Always love hearing about Bear and the therapy dogs. Maybe your SUV is haunted? LOL. Ok, not really, but hopefully Bear will adjust to it one day.Working 9-6 everyday and having this cold/sinus/whatever it is, I haven’t been up on things very much lately and didn’t even know you had bad weather. Glad it all turned out alright for you.

    Judy and Dave, sending special prayers up for you. Please take care.

    • Hope you feel better soon, Hilde!

  11. Don’t know if you’ve looked into any of Cesar Milans shows for help w/loading Bear, but he (and his dog/person philosophy) is who I turn to when dealing w/my issues w/Shaggy. In most cases, its what I’m doing, or not doing! His shows are on the National Geographic Channel daily around here. He also has videos & books avail, and there may even be help on his website.

    Prayers for Dave & Judy also.

  12. Glad to hear you and Bear are back doing the therapy visits. I so envy you both-such a special, special thing to do…
    Deb is right about the SUV phobia-I’ve heard of this from other trainers and a couple former students. If there’s a roof rack, there may be wind whistling noises coming from it that are bothering him or there may be something else making a sound only he can hear. P All you can do is what you’re doing already-stay calm and make each ride as positive as possible.

    Have a great weekend!

  13. With animal training – a lot has to do with positive and negative. Right now – Bear has a negative association with the SUV. So, what you have to do is try to figure out how to make it a positive association.

    First – you need to NEVER get impatient or raise your voice at him while trying to get him in. Even if you feel like strangling him, you need to stay calm and quiet and patient and reward him for any teeny tiny little thing he does. Getting impatient and raising your voice only reinforces his feelings that the SUV is negative.

    If he is food motivated (and I am sure he is) – you can use food as a reward. Use it to lure him in. Use the “high dollar rewards” in the beginning to give him extra motivation. Things that are his absolute favorite foods. Give him lots of praise and treat rewards for even attempting to look toward the vehicle and even consider going in. And, if you can, feed him his meals in there for a while.

    Also, you could do things like take him to McDonalds and buy him a cheeseburger (we did this with our shy dog and it helped her get excited about going in the car instead of scared).

    And, if possible, only take him in your car until he gets better at this so that he learns that if he wants to go somewhere, it is in the SUV. (I am assuming that he normally likes to go in the car to go socialize.)

    Have you ever heard of clicker training? I am sure that it would help greatly in this case.

    Also – keep in mind that every time you force him into the vehicle against his will – it is building on the negative association that he has. I would not count on him just getting over this on his own. I think you need to take steps to help him learn to like it. You just need to figure out how to make the positive things about your car stronger than the negatives.

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. I know a lot about training and actually took a course to be a certified dog trainer once upon a time.

    Good luck!!

  14. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. It brought tears to my eyes. Dave is doing well, will be discharged tomorrow after his first round of 3 days of chemo. He will be home for 3 weeks and go back for another 3 days of chemo. He is feeling pretty well and eating a lot! He had lost weight during the summer. He is a talker and chatting with everyone who works there and gets near him!

    I was hoping Bear would do better at “loading” this time around. He is so precious. Maddie is too, of course. Lovely photos, how I love the photos you always include with your delightful posts.

    Thanksgiving wishes to all and again, thank you.

    • Judy,
      You and Dave are in my prayers…please keep us posted.
      Mary Jane
      South Georgia

  15. It may be that Bear hasn’t gotten use to the feel & smell of the SUV. My husband has a body shop and we have have a lot of cars. Our primary car is a van and the other is a truck which our Bear gets in with out any problem. But if we try to get him in another vehicle that we only have temporarily, he really bulks. Dogs can be so funny!

  16. I thought of you when I heard about the storms and was hoping all was well on the homefront. Glad everyone is safe!

  17. […] A Book, A Storm . . . and a Little Bear Drama 11/18/2011 « Bree's Lake Blackshear Blog […]

  18. Wow, Bree, great pictures!! You’ve got a good eye! Have you been riding any, or just reading?? Wish I could offer up some advice on the dog-in-the-SUV-fear thingy, but our German Shepherd just throws up. So be thankful!!

    Have a great Thanksgiving, and come see us in Thomasville for Victorian Christmas!!
    Mary Jane

  19. God Bless you Brenda for what you and Bear do. What a great way to serve.

    Prayers for Judy and Dave. God Bless them and heal up quickly!

  20. Thank you also, Tom, I just saw your post.

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