This blog began with 16 letters from people from Brindi's world - who know and like her, including her groomer, vet, kennel owner, neighbors with kids, neighbors with dogs, and friends of Brindi's owner. It is growing fast with letters from supporters near and far. See FREE BRINDI for a blog kept by Brindi's best friend, Francesca Rogier. Best friends are forever!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A second call from the Deputy Mayor

From: David Hendsbee <>
Date: Sat, 13 Jun 2009 20:22:19 -0300
To: Steve Adams <>, Andrew Younger <>, Wayne Anstey <>, Jackie Barkhouse <>, Barry Dalrymple <>, Frank Beazley <>, Brad Johns <>, David Hendsbee <>, Mary Ellen Donovan <>, Dan English <>, Bob Harvey <>, Julia Horncastle <>, Debbie Hum <>, Jennifer Watts <>, Jerry Blumenthal <>, Geri Kaiser <>, Bill Karsten <>, Peter Kelly <>, Lorelei Nicoll <>, Andrea MacDonald <>, Gloria McCluskey <>, Linda Mosher <>, Tim Outhit <>, Kishan Persaud <>, Peter Lund <>, Reg Rankin <>, Dawn Sloane <>, "Jim Smith (Councillor)" <>, Steve Streatch <>, Sue Uteck <>, Russell Walker <>, Mary Wile <>
Cc: Francesca Rogier <>, Kat Horne, Sandra Flemming <>, <>
Subject: Rogier vs HRM > Enough is Enough > Time for Council intervention
HRM Councillors and HRM Senior staff and others involved with Bylaw A-300 :

This whole situation over Brindi & Francesca Rogier VS HRM Animal Control / SPCA has become so untenable that we are well beyond the point of mere frustration and futility. How much more do we ( HRM ) have spend to date on lawyers wages and now almost $8,000 in impound fees? And how much more will it cost Francesca Rogier, both financially, physically and spirituality, to fight HRM Animal Control to defend for her beloved dog's life. So far for her it has been $51,000 and counting. And I wonder why Ms. Rogier wanted to immigrate here in the first place ? She is a highly educated professional woman with great ability that should be used to further advance HRM as a society. Instead the worse case scenario has occurred. This type of reception does not bode well for our Economic Strategy for immigration attraction and retention.  

Again I should not have to repeat myself about our tarnished imagine over this "dog-gone" situation. We have  lost national & international tourism and goodwill opportunities because of the bleak exposure over "Brindi". Halifax has put itself into a very dim and dismal position with the greater pet loving audience worldwide. Both HRM and the SPCA has lost a great deal of credibility over this issue.

There must be a better exit strategy than awaiting for an obscure outcome of a much delayed court hearing and ruling process.  I believe under HRM Municipal Charter Section 188 (2)f: That states :
(2) Without restricting the generality of subsection (1) but subject to Part VIII, the Council may, in any by-law

(f) where decision making is delegated by by-law to a person or committee other than the Council, provide for an appeal of the decision, the body that is to decide the appeal and related matters.

Hence we need to revamp our HRM A-300 Animal Control Bylaw whereby appeals can be heard by a sub-committee of HRM Council. It would be modeled much like our current process for Taxi License Appeals, Variance Appeals, Dangerous and Unsightly orders and the like. So why does our Animal Control Bylaw  require an expensive judicial process ?  Our courts should be dealing with much more important things that things such as this.

Therefore I will be asking this be added as soon as possible as an Agenda Item, either as an In Camera item because it involves a current court case, or can this be perused as a regular agenda item whereby a revised generic Council Committee administrative process  be adapted into Bylaw A-300.

I once again plead for some common sense to prevail....please  leave the egos & big brother attitudes at the door. Everyone needs to be reasonable ... please !

I remain,

David Andrew Hendsbee
HRM Councillor District 3 :
Preston - Lawrencetown - Chezzetcook
Tel #: 829-2465
Fax #: 829-3620
Cell #: 483-0705

The TLC Shelter: "One huge cruel joke"

From: <>
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 12:07:49 EDT
To: <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>
Subject: Response to NSSPCA Press Release dated June 1, 2009 re Brindi the dog

In response to the most recent press release by the NSSPCA re “Brindi” the dog on June 1, 2009, we the tax paying and donation supporting public are outraged at the latest bit of propaganda put out by this public funded animal welfare agency.

We refer specifically to the alleged “high” level of care purported to be given this dog.  Please note that by the society’s own admission, this dog has been kept incarcerated for almost one year now in a facility
not meant to house dogs for extended periods of time.  By their own admission, Brindi is never walked on leash off site, but instead is put in a small concrete pen outside the shelter for a purportedly two hour period each day.  During the winter this pen was constantly iced over making it an extremely dangerous place for a dog to exercise.  The press release further states that in addition, Brindi is given free time outside her cage where she is allowed to accompany the shelter staff presumably while they go about their regular chores of cleaning kennels, etc.  Further, they advise her health has been monitored regularly by a vet who also presumably comes weekly to check on all the dogs at the shelter, not just Brindi. Other reports have this vet visit at once every two weeks.  Nowhere was there mention that Brindi recently had surgery to remove three cysts discovered while there, cysts that weren’t there when she arrived!  Our group warned months ago that living in such conditions would create undue stress on this dog that could contribute negatively to her health.  Her lack of proper exercise has also contributed to an unhealthy weight gain which may present future risks to her well being.  Her training has taken a backslide as she has been encouraged to jump up on people, a behaviour her owner was very careful not to encourage and again, a behaviour she did not come into the shelter’s care with.  So far from receiving a “high” level of care, we would argue that this poor animal has suffered by virtue of her incarceration in a facility not designed to accommodate animals for long periods of time and where the neglect is obvious.  We are led to believe also that when this shelter is closed on Mondays, she receives little or no care!  If this is considered high level care, then we pity those other animals whose care must be minimal at best.  In contrast, the Tender Loving Care Shelter, a no kill facility in Digby, Nova Scotia, that receives NO government funding, is open seven days a week staffed by a small dedicated team of volunteers who receive NO compensation for their efforts and provide all animals a superior level of care such as cageless environments for the cats and several daily on leash walks for all their dogs who spend the majority of their time outside in fresh air and in runs designed especially to meet their needs.  We welcome visits from the press and public at any time.

most shocking thing to discover, however, a picture circulating showing Brindi front and centre surrounded by a smiling and caring SPCA staff and what appear to be family members, friends or other volunteers - feeding her birthday cake! Two people in the photograph are kneeling on either side of Brindi at face level and one person is holding a baby.  Now what is wrong with this photograph? For starters…where is Brindi’s muzzle????  Was she not ordered muzzled whenever she was around members of the public? Surely, a dangerous dog like Brindi, whom the Mayor could not see releasing for fear that she might “bite” somebody (which for the record she has never done) should not be permitted to be seated among so many unsuspecting people for at any moment this aggressive, dangerous dog might launch into a full out attack on those around her!  If there was not more solid evidence for Brindi’s immediate release to her rightful owner, then we don’t know what is!

This whole fiasco has been one huge cruel joke played out at the expense of this poor dog and her terribly maligned owner Francesca Rogier who has fought tirelessly for almost a year now at great financial and emotional expense to have her dog returned.  This dog was NEVER deemed dangerous and should have NEVER been held in this prison for so long.  This has and always was a power trip - ego driven and politically motivated to justify a wrongful decision made by an agent to have Brindi euthanized and which was subsequently overturned in a court of law.  This smacks of a vendetta pure and simple by the NSSPCA and the HRM against Francesca Rogier for calling out the conflict of interest that exists between those two entities. According to the NSSPCA, their contract with the HRM negates them from making any decisions regarding what is in the best interest of animals in their care if they fall under HRM jurisdiction. In other words, in the case of Brindi the dog, they have willingly participated in what amounts to cruel and unusual punishment towards this animal, in direct violation of their mandate as a “society for the prevention of cruelty to animals”!  Not only to Brindi, but also to her owner by denying her regular and consistent visitation to her animal to provide her with the love and attention Brindi so desperately needs, deserves and is entitled to!

We demand this intolerable situation be brought to an end immediately with the safe return of Brindi to her rightful and lawful owner Francesca Rogier.  This dog, as evidenced by the most recent photo included with the press release from the NSSPCA, is not a threat to anyone and deserves to be with her owner until the charges against her are dealt with in a court of law.  In our opinion, this is one of the sickest and cruelest cases against animal and owner that we have ever seen perpetrated by a body that was designed to do just the opposite.  Shame on the NSSPCA for putting their own interests ahead of the animals.  Far from changing their image as they promised to do over one year ago, they are sinking ever further into the murky abyss and donors should carefully think before directing any funds their way until they clean up their act once and for all and most especially release this dog to her owner!

Preston Andrews, President TLC Shelter, Digby, Nova Scotia
Dorothy Andrews, Shelter Manger
Kris Murdock, Volunteer
Linda Chalmers, Volunteer
And scores of others too numerous to mention……

June 1, 2009
Halifax, NS


SPCA Addresses Inquiries About "Brindi"

In response to hundreds of inquiries from both the Society's membership as well as the public, the Nova Scotia SPCA (NS SPCA) would like to clarify the level of care being provided to Brindi the dog at our Metro Shelter in Dartmouth.

Brindi was placed into the care of the Metro SPCA shelter by the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) in July 2008. There have been many and varied inquiries and concerns about the SPCA's involvement in this case, which the NS SPCA wishes to clarify in more detail to our members and the public. The NS SPCA is contracted by HRM to provide kennel space and care of any animals brought to the facility by HRM Animal Services. To clarify, the NS SPCA does not have the authority to make any decisions related to the outcome of Brindi's case. While HRM is not required to consider the input and advice of the NS SPCA, SPCA representatives have been in frequent contact with HRM about Brindi and have proposed alternative options for Brindi's care and the resolution of the case on multiple occasions.

With respect to the care being provided to Brindi by the Metro SPCA shelter, the NS SPCA wishes to reiterate that Brindi is receiving a very high level of care during her stay at the shelter. She receives regular weekly check-ups with the shelter veterinarian, she receives bathing and grooming by volunteer professional groomers, she is out of her kennel seven to eight hours a day accompanied by staff, she spends close to two hours outside daily, and on Mondays when the shelter is closed to the public she spends the entire day out of her kennel. Shelter management wishes to provide the best possible care for all shelter animals; to that end, since the shelter is not designed to be a long-term care facility, shelter management has been providing this modified care regime for Brindi. The shelter veterinarian has consulted with one of only five board certified animal behaviorists in Canada, who is located at the University of Prince Edward Island's Atlantic Veterinary College, to discuss Brindi's daily care routine and seek a professional opinion about the level of enrichment we are providing. The behaviorist's comment was that Brindi is getting more human interaction and enrichment than many dogs in a regular home environment.

The NS SPCA is providing  a high level of care and enrichment for Brindi and hopes to see this case resolved as soon as possible.

Media requests and interviews will be most quickly addressed by directing them to

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Message From A Public Official to Other Public Officials

From: David Hendsbee

Date: Fri, 22 May 2009 17:36:40 -0300

To: Frank Beazley , Mary Ellen Donovan , Dan English , Peter Kelly , Andrea MacDonald , Robin McNeil , Sandra Flemming Cc: Steve Adams , Andrew Younger , Jackie Barkhouse , Barry Dalrymple, Brad Johns , Bob Harvey , Debbie Hum , Jennifer Watts , Jerry Blumenthal , Bill Karsten , Lorelei Nicoll , Gloria McCluskey , Linda Mosher , Tim Outhit , Peter Lund , Reg Rankin , Dawn Sloane , "Jim Smith (Councillor)" , Steve Streatch , Sue Uteck , Russell Walker , Mary Wile

 Subject: RE: HAPPY BIRTHDAY RALLY for BRINDI: Halifax North Common, 1 PM



Hello Everyone:


Not a very pleasant way to mark one's birthday ... neither for Brindi & Francesca Rogier both.


But I must express my gratitude that she is at least allowed to have a weekly scheduled visit with her beloved pet. Finally some common sense has surfaced. Perhaps we can graduate to an off-site park or beach where they can have more room to relax and play.


This situation has become untenable to the point of mere frustration and futility. How much have we (HRM) spend to date on lawyers and impound fees? And how much has it cost Francesca Rogier, both financially and spirituality, to fight Animal Control and defend for her pet's life. For God's sake, this dog is not dangerous as it has been portrayed. HRM and the SPCA has lost a lot of credibility over this issue. And Ms. Rogier wanted to immigrate here ? This has not been a very welcoming reception ! Nor does it bode well for our Economic Strategy for immigration attraction and retention.  I won't even mention our lost national & international Tourism opportunities because of the exposure this "Brindi" Case has gotten. Halifax has put itself into a very dim and dismal position with the greater animal loving audience worldwide. 


There has got to be a better exit strategy than waiting for the outcome of a much delayed court hearing and ruling. We need to revamp our Animal Control Bylaw whereby appeals can be heard by a sub-committee of HRM Council. It should be modeled much like our current process for Taxi License Appeals, Variance Appeals, Dangerous and Unsightly orders and the like. Why is it our Animal Control Bylaw must involve an expensive judicial process. Our courts should be dealing with much more important things that things such as this. The Municipal Government Act and/or our Municipal Charter may need to be modified to have a more streamlined - Council led process for matters such as this.    


I plead for everyone to be reasonable ...please ! 


I remain, respectfully yours ;



 David Andrew Hendsbee


 HRM Councillor District 3 :

 Preston - Lawrencetown - Chezzetcook

 Tel #: 829-2465

 Fax #: 829-3620

 Cell #: 483-0705





 -----Forwarded Message






(HALIFAX, NS: FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2009) Tomorrow at 1 pm on the North Common in Halifax, dog lovers will commemorate the sixth birthday of Brindi, a dog deemed "dangerous" by HRM Animal Services.

Brindi is still waiting to get off death row in the Metro Shelter's pound for ten months. Seized after three incidents with other dogs were reported, two without injury, she has never bitten a human. A Supreme Court justice quashed the city¹s euthanization order last January. But instead of releasing her, it kept her behind bars and immediately charged her owner, Francesca Rogier, with three by-law violations. HRM is using these first charges it ever laid against Rogier as a basis to seek a new euthanization order from a judge in June trial slated for June.

With Brindi¹s fate still hanging in the balance, May 22 will be a somber day for Rogier, who has been fighting since last July for her safe return. When she adopted Brindi in 2007, a vet clinic listed the four-year old mutt's birthday as May 22 to match her own. The real date is unknown.

At Saturday¹s event on the North Common, which is open to the public, humans and canines are invited to blow out candles on two birthday cakes, one for each species, and make a wish for Brindi to come home soon. The "celebration" underscores the love many owners have for their dogs as true family members. The law has yet to acknowledge this factor, or its positive contributions to society, such as the many ways dogs benefit human health and the economic boost of billions spent on them annually.

The birthday event is sponsored by Humane Halifax, a group of concerned HRM citizens in favor of improved animal control, which it says is arbitrary and often ineffective. Humane Halifax advocates the immediate release of Brindi to her owner as the first step in reaching its goal of reforming the city's animal policies.

Brindi recently left her cell in the pound to undergo surgery to remove four cysts from her back. Rogier paid for the procedure so it could be done by her own vet HRM said it would have covered the cost only if done by an SPCA vet. Fortunately, the cysts tested negative for cancer. The health scare was a further source of stress for Rogier, who despite many setbacks is determined to bring her dog back home.

On a more positive note, as of this week, Rogier will be permitted one 30-minute visit a week with her dog at the SPCA pound.


------ End of Forwarded Message

Monday, April 27, 2009

HRM and Brindi: Prosecution or persecution?

Letter from Jennifer Richardson, Dartmouth to the Chronicle Herald newspaper in Halifax, submitted for publication April 26, 2009
Francesca Rogier’s beloved pet Brindi has been in the pound for nine months. The Supreme Court quashed her euthanization order in January, effectively rendering impoundment illegal. HRM then kept hold of her on a technicality, and charged Rogier for the first time ever while it seeks a new court order to kill her dog. But without an order in hand, how can it even hold Brindi? Dogs are property. Can HRM impound your car for months and then ticket you, hoping to prove you broke a parking law? Hardly.
Now HRM is outsourcing the case to a fancy law firm. It says its lawyers are too busy. More likely they’re afraid they’ll look bad if they prosecute somebody with one lawsuit filed last August, another on the way, and a supreme court victory. Outsourcing only makes it look worse, in my view.

The trial starts in June. Ms. Rogier is more desperate tha
n ever to get her dog out. She knows private lawyers have no incentive to shorten a case that is already guaranteed to take months longer. All along she’s been willing to negotiate with HRM. In her favor: an assessment opposing euthanization, local and international petitions, affidavits from dog professionals, and a highly-qualified trainer who supports her plan to take Brindi home and retrain her. There she’ll be safely fenced in and well-cared for. Rogier has yet to hear back.
Last week she learned Brindi has a potentially serious medical condition: the SPCA vet found a cyst that might be cancerous, and recommends a biopsy. It’s near the spine, and full anesthesia is necessary, so Rogier wants her own vet to do it. HRM will allow this only if she foots the bill. Rather than give her vet a complete health record of nine months, it will only release recent blood test results. And if Rogier (allowed only one visit so far) wants to see her dog now she must submit to no less than 13 rules that, among other things, limit the visit to 30 minutes, force her to stay outdoors regardless of weather, and forbid her to discuss the visit with anyone, especially media.

Is this a democracy?

Clearly HRM prefers being a bully
to listening to reason. Even animal control officers elsewhere question its motives. Hiring a high-priced firm to prosecute by-law violations is laughable; to insist on euthanasia for a rescue dog that never bit a human - and may have cancer after nine months in the pound - is in poor taste indeed. If HRM succeeds in putting this woman’s dog down or force her to give it away (as rumor has it), it can expect bad publicity for a long time: win or lose, it will lose.
Enough idiocy! HRM must work out a deal so Brindi can go home now. Use our taxes for better things, like cleaning the poop out of the harbour (again) and ridding the gunmen from our neighbourhoods!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Assessment after five months at a "temporary care" facility


I arrived at the Metro Animal Shelter on Friday, December 12 2008 at about 11.00 am. I was accompanied by an assistant. Staff and the Animal Services representative were accommodating and cooperative.
Before I began the assessment I requested to start in Brindi's run, and to walk her from her run to the back, fenced-in and outside space that was provided for us. My request was granted without any problems. The space provided in the back was excellent for our purpose to evaluate Brindi around other dogs.
The equipment used was a Easy-Walk harness and 6" leash. The Easy Walk harness is a body harness that has a leash ring at the front, the dog's chest area. I chose that type of harness because it allows for incredible physical control and at the same time does not at all restrict or irritate the dog. I didn't use a muzzle.

Brindi's run was clean; she has a cot-type bed, clean blankets, food and water and a stuffed Kong. Nothing was ripped or chewed, food and water was inside the bowl. That indicates that Brindi is in a good emotional condition - not stressed or shutdown.

Brindi was calm when I entered the run (with my assistant outside the run holding the door closed). Brindi was inquisitive and attentive, did not charge the door, no jumping up or mouthing.
I ran my hand over her body to determine how she accepts handling, including ears, tail and back paws. She accepted all of it and remained relaxed and loose-bodied. I then offered her freeze dried liver treats, to determine if she is motivated/interested in food treats, but also to determine her level of mouth control - if she would take the treat hard or soft; if I would feel teeth or not.

Brindi accepted the liver treats eagerly. On a scale from 1-10, with 1 only feelings lips and tongue on my fingers holding the treat, and 10 feeling teeth to a point where it is uncomfortable, Brindi was about a 4. The fourth piece of liver offered I withheld from her (had a piece of liver between my thumb and index finger and had both fingers in her mouth but did not release), to determine what she does if she gets frustrated, wanting the treat and me not giving it to her. She first used her teeth a little harder, minimally increased to a 5 on the scale. After approximately five seconds, she sat, then offered me a paw, then backed away from me and sat, then decreased level of bite pressure to a 1 on the scale and used only tongue and lips to get me to release the treat, which I did. I repeated that two more times, to determine if she has memory and would lick/lip right away, which she did not, but initial teeth pressure decreased each time and she was faster to just lick and lip my fingers.

Conclusion: Brindi is food motivated. Brindi has a good level of self-control even if frustrated. Brindi learns quickly what the expected behavior is and then applies it willingly to get the reward.
After that I fitted the Easy-Walk harness. This was new and unusual for her and she reacted by folding her ears back and lowering her body. She also walked a few steps toward the run door. Her body posturing indicated that she was nervous with what I did, but she tolerated it without any form of aggression - no growl, no mouthing or snap. I had to adjust the harness and there was no change of behavior when I fitted her the second time.

Conclusion: Brindi was very accepting when I leaned over her fitting the harness on, even though she was nervous which she signaled through her body language. When I continued with what I was doing she did not intensify her behavior in order to stop me, but continued to tolerate it.

I proceeded to take Brindi outside. The indoor space where the dogs are is a, maybe 20 meter long corridor (maybe longer), with runs on both sides. There were dogs in the other runs we had to pass in order to go outside. Brindi walked ahead of me, but there was only minimal pulling. I kept the leash as loose as possible, not restraining her at all and not pulling her back, to determine how she maneuvers the space around the other dogs if not controlled by a person. Brindi ignored all dogs; walked without tension, did not bark, growl, snap or even look at the dogs. She also did not pull me in a "lets get out of here" way.

None of the other dogs reacted to her, which is important because it indicates that neither does she have a problem with the other dogs, nor do they feel stressed/intimidated/nervous by her presence.

Once in the fenced-in, outside area, I unclipped her leash and offered her a Guz Toy (bouncy rubber ball type toys that squeak). Although she did charge after it, she did not retrieve or was motivated to continue the game, or interact with me. At one point, she tried to bury it, but lost interest after a few seconds. Brindi was not overly interested in interacting once off the leash, but investigated, sniffed, urinated and had a bowel movement. I threw the Guz toy four times for her, with Brindi responding the same way. I called her name a few times when she was about 10 meters away, sniffing, but she stayed disengaged, not offering eye contact. She did pay attention to me when I walked up to her; did not run, or move away from me. At one point I tried to engage her in some roughhousing. She refused to engage with me that way, moved away from me and close to my assistant, who was about 10 meters away, looked at me and flicked her tongue. (This is a canine appeasing signal and sign that it made her nervous when I initiated roughhousing.)

At the very beginning of the off-leash evaluation outside I offered her a liver treat. Her level of teeth pressure was what I would characterize as a "7", so quite higher than inside the run. I want to clarify that I am NOT talking about biting. Even a level 10 pressure when taking treats will not leave a puncture mark or bruise. A hard mouth taking treats means that teeth are felt, the dog might be grabby, and it might be uncomfortable, but it is not a bite. I frequently offered her liver treats throughout the off leash session and her level stayed the same. A hard mouth is indicative of increased arousal, excitement or stress (in fact helpful in gauging what frame of mind the dog is in if there are no overt, easy to read signals). The fact that Brindi's mouth was considerably harder outside, than inside her run, indicates that just by virtue of being outside she becomes more aroused/stressed. That is not uncommon for dogs left outside/or lived outside without human direction and care, which was, I believe the case with Brindi, a rescue dog.

Being hyper-alert to detail changes in the environment and reacting towards them becomes a classical conditioned behavior with these dogs. Since running away isn't an option with a dog who is chained, they lunge out and learn to become offensive. That offensive, reactive behavior will intensify if it is self-rewarding; the behavior is reinforced, for example, if the other dog runs away.
The next step was to evaluate Brindi's behavior when she encounters dogs. I put Brindi back on leash, handed her to my assistant and left the enclosure to get my own dogs, Davie and Will. Davie is a 10-year-old female Australian Shepherd, Will a 7-year-old mutt. Davie's disposition is very confident, grounded and calm; Will is insecure around other dogs, but calm and responsive. Both my dogs are dog savvy and frequently assist me. Both my dogs were leashed, but the leash was kept loose, allowing them to walk freely. Brindi was leashed, the leash kept loose also.

She was about 10 meters away from the fence when we walked up. She was on alert right away when she saw us, moved a few steps toward us, then halted and hesitated for a brief second. She did not vocalize. Her body posturing was forward. I, at that point instructed Amy to keep a loose leash and follow Brindi. We did not cue/prompt her, and I did not prompt my dogs. I did this to determine what would happen without human control. Brindi approached my dogs, somewhat tense but no charging up. My dogs did not retreat (and they could have - there was always a loose leash). Once Brindi was close to my dogs - only the chain link fence between them, she looked at my assistant (unprompted eye contact).

This was really quite remarkable, because it showed Brindi to connect to a handler she never interacted with before, which is the canine version of asking for guidance. When my assistant responded and moved a step back, Brindi heeded the cue and followed, loosing attention to my dogs. The willingness to focus on the handler and follow directions was repeated several times throughout the session. That willingness is to connect to a person is crucial in retraining. It means that the dog will be open and receptive to training and is motivated to respond to such contact.

While Brindi and my dogs were stationary, with the chain link fence between them, a few interactions took place between Brindi and my dog. Davie and Brindi were indifferent to one another. There was some nose-to-nose sniffing; Brindi at one point tried to initiate a game (attempted to bounce into her to start a chase game); and some appropriate crotch sniffing. No growls, not teeth, no snapping of any kind. I also handed out liver treats to all three dogs, and Brindi was patiently waiting her turn, but took the treats a bit harder yet, indicative that she showed a lot of self control but was stressed by the presence of my dogs.

She did not look at my dogs, nor did she attempt to intimidate them out of the way, which indicates that Brindi was not resource guarding. This means that Brindi does not appear to aggress because she protects a possession. To put it in perspective, reflex aggression rooted in fear is easier to modify than dominant aggression, where the dog protects possession, which can include property.

I then began to walk parallel to the fence. Brindi reacted to that instantly and vocalized - barking interspersed with some growling, and charging. We continued to walk, and Brindi calmed a little, but remained charged up. At that point I decided to bring my dogs back to the car. I seen enough of her interaction with other dogs.

As we left, Brindi was not barking and charging us. According to my assistant, Brindi relaxed as soon as my dogs were out of sight and offered eye contact and engaged with her. My assistant played with the Guz toy, which Brindi was not possessive over, accepting my assistant's hands around the toy and her mouth without becoming tense. Once I returned, I made a fast hand movement and grabbed the toy. Brindi reacted to that with nudging my hand with a closed mouth.

Nudging means that Brindi was interested in interacting with me; accepted my invitation. A closed mouth means that Brindi chose to not use her teeth; no aggression at all.
Brindi greeted me with a friendly, relaxed wagging tail when I returned. I offered her a couple more liver treats, which she took quite hard, level 9. I did not release the treat right away, testing if she could calm and eventually lick/lip the treat as she did in the dog run, but she couldn't. That, and the fact that Brindi had another bowel movement, is indicative that she found the session with my dogs taxing on her and stressful.

We brought her back to her run, and again there was no reaction towards any of the other dogs; they did not react to her, she didn't pull, went willingly into her run and did not charge the door trying to escape when I left. She was not tense or concerned when I leaned over her to remove the Easy-Walk harness. The fact that Brindi was a little nervous when I fitted it on her, and relaxed when I took it off, indicates that once she is familiar with a novel situation and feels safe, she is non-reactive. That is another sign that she is both insecure, and very trainable. I offered one more treat in her run, which she took with a softer, much more controlled mouth.

In my opinion Brindi's reactivity with other dogs is based on insecurity. She feels safe inside her run and around the dogs she knows by now, and remains non-reactive. She is hyper-alert once outside, sensitive to detail changes and her environment, particularly dogs in motion. Likely in her past charging into them offensively got her the response she was seeking and it became a learned behavior. Once a dog runs, predation instinct might add to her, already high arousal level. The fact the she chose another insecure dog, Will, to engage with and not solid, confident Davie, is another indication that Brindi is insecure. Insecure dogs are unpredictable to other dogs, which increases insecurity in the other dog. So she tried to find out more about her by sniffing her in turn, or to see what happens if she bounces into her.

Throughout this assessment, Brindi gave neither me nor my assistant any trouble, she never threatened either of us and was very appropriate. This does not mean that she does not exhibit inappropriate behaviors for which she needs to be retrained
. Both my assistant and I agreed, however, that Brindi is highly trainable and her reactivity can be largely modified. Indeed, Brindi’s behavior is not worse and in fact is better than that of many dogs I meet and work with. “Aggression” is often misunderstood as dominance–protective–intentional behavior which is not, in my opinion, the cause of behavior complained of in respect of Brindi.

Conclusion: In my opinion, Brindi could be successfully "rehabilitated" under an appropriate protocol. She is handler/owner attentive, food motivated and willing to respond to directions. Once a dog/situation is predictable (in her mind) she doesn't react. These are optimal and highly suitable conditions to return her to the community.

With regards
Silvia Jay
December 22, 2008.

I note again: Brindi is now over five and a half years old. At two she was found tied up and abandoned out in the rain with a litter of her puppies, on a first nations' reserve. At four I adopted her, and she passed an obedience class three months later. At five, due to a few minor infractions, only incurring injury, also minor, she has been locked up in a temporary care facility, making her confinement a total of half her life. Given all that, I would say she's a darned good dog.

Her condition and behavior now don't even come close to the way they were before they took her away. Her condition now isn't even remotely similar to how it was when they took her, let alone when I first got her. The SPCA pound is a temporary care facility. It is not designed for long-term stays. I requested twice that she be placed elsewhere, and was turned down. She has not been bathed in a long time, months and months - I never saw her that filthy, actually. She is extremely overweight and her normally gleaming coat is dull. Clearly she has not been given enough exercise. How can an organization bound by provincial law keep her in such a state, in such a place, and refuse me visits?

Give her back. Let's put an end to this story. A happy ending.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Notes on the blog

I created this blog not as a blog, but as a compendium of letters of support on a webpage that is accessible from my Free Brindi blog. 

The letters from August are from people who know Brindi in various capacities and contexts. The vet, the groomer, the mail carrier, and the kennel owner are people who handle (or in the mail carrier's case, confront) dogs every day. Their letters are especially important. 

I would like to also post letters from others who do not know Brindi personally, but who know the details of the case, and who feel it would be wrong for the city to go through with its plans to put her down. 

I also have copies of letters from many, many kindhearted, understanding people who do not know me or my dog, but, having learned the details of the case, were prompted to write to local authorities, the media, and the Nova Scotia SPCA. A good share of these folks wrote letters more than once! I cannot even say how many letters they sent since the start of this ordeal in July. Some of them were lost in the tumult of a series of computer mess-ups beyond my control (most recently, an entire erase of my laptop). But more keep coming in and others will be recovered soon. In light of this, I thought it might be a good idea to create a special place for them. And in this way, the two kinds of letters will not be confused.