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Madge’s Story

Madge is a year old mini black tri bull terrier. She was purchased from a breeder in Oklahoma at the spur of the moment when the elderly couple that bought her passed a house with a Bull Terrier Puppies for sale sign. This couple tried hard to train Madge to fit into their Motor Home lifestyle. She was sent to 2 week long obedience camps but this did not help her settle into a lifestyle of being in a small area. She was then shuffled from home to home until she found Marilyn Sibley in BT rescue. The people who tried to take her stated that she was too busy, too distracted and would not listen.

Marilyn worked with Madge for almost a year. Thankfully Madge is not animal or person aggressive. She has a willingness to please and is busy, Busy, BUSY. It was easy to see why she did not stay with her original owners. The only drawback that Marilyn found was that Madge was a resource guarder of tasty treats. But that was managed by surveillance and vigilance. I came into the picture when I started hunting for a mini bt. I figured I would be on a waiting list for months to years so I was not expecting for Marilyn to tell me about a dog she had. We e-mailed back and fourth several times about what Madge was like and what I could expect and what she could expect from me. At the time Marilyn had only seen Madge spin a few times when overly excited. A home visit was made and a plan to meet in Abilene to pick her up.

To say Madge was high energy was an understatement. This girl was into everything. Although she had had obedience training she still jumped into the air to greet people and did not have any social graces at all. I put Madge on a “nothing in life is free” program and she had to work for everything. She would spin when overly excited or frustrated. I tried hard to keep triggers of these things to a minimum. After we had had her a month we began to notice she would go to one specific place and spin. She would spin until she grabbed her tail then hold on and lay down. Most of the time she would whine in the is position and if she let go of her tail the spinning would start again. She was beginning to pull the hair out of her tail in several spots.

At first I could call her out of it from another room, or she would come see what we were eating at the table. As time went on she would rather spin then come and play and eat. She was even spinning when put outside to play. I contacted the neuro list and got some ideas and my vet put her on clomicalm. He even contacted Dr. Alice Moon- Fanelli about Madge’s condition. Along with her spinning she started pushing my other dogs bowl or a hard ball around. So much so that the end of her nose would become raw and bleeding from the friction she caused with all the pushing. I increased her training and bought several toys to help keep her mind active: stuffed Kong, buster cube, giggly wiggly bone. It took 6-8 weeks before the clomicalm started showing signs of taking effect.

Her spinning slowed and she became more interested in doing other things. She will still spin a few times when overly excited but nothing like it used to be. The only exception is when the weather is bad and she has to stay crated while I’m at work. Then she spins quite a lot unless I can redirect her by playing fetch. She still likes to push balls and I limit that to a controlled activity. Thankfully we were able to control her spinning through medication and regular training/play time.

Stephanie Evans

Update February 26, 2005, from a letter from Stephanie:

Didn’t know if you wanted to Update Madge’s story with this little bit of info. I think it might shed some hope to those with a spinner that they can do other things than spin.

We have one more Rally Novice leg to get to have our title.

At her first trial she was 4th and the second day 2nd. We actually had a 3 way tie with a Golden, Madge and a Pug. Of course they went to time to see who placed 1st. Madge is fast but not as fast as a Golden with a professional trainer on the end of the lead. 😉

I’m very proud of her. She has a tendency to shut down in new places so we go everywhere with her. She was great at the trial and did not get stressed at all.

She also made me proud in the fact that when people wanted to pet her she sat right down or laid down to get petted. She used to jump straight up in the air most of the time right into the persons face as they knelt over to pet her.