Sorry Piper, it can’t be helped. But maybe our readers can help us with the pestiest of pesty little brothers.
(insert JAWS theme).
Yes yes, he looks sweet, but TWooie is now settling in at Casa de Food Lady and, as with so many rescue dogs, we’re starting to see a glimpse of TWooie’s real personality. He was surrendered to the shelter with one of our favourite excuses: “We just don’t have time for him.” It’s obvious from looking at him that TWooie does little more than eat, sleep and run a personal lard farm which he keeps on his person. So what they really meant was “we don’t have time to put up with his wicked ways.”
Wicked ways – yes, he haz some.
He’s trying very very hard to be a normal dog, but TWooie doesn’t *really* understand how to be a normal dog. I guess, given he’s Woo’s brother, this should be obvious (as I am typing this, Woo is asleep on my sofa, on his back, with his front legs sticking straight up in the air. I mean STRAIGHT up in the air, like he’s praising the sun gods. And he’s snoring).
Mr. CHOMPy, in random, frenetic bursts of enthusiasm, tries to play with my dogs, but his version of play consists of running straight at a dog growling and then CHOMPing them rather hard. His Flambe™ goes like mad and then he comes running back to me full of wiggles for his happy good deed.
It looks an awful lot like his reaction to dogs he DOESN’T like (which is all of them) who are trying to have a good time (this includes barking, running, blinking, breathing or existing) which is to run straight at them growling and CHOMPing them rather hard.
It’s somewhat similar to his predilection for resource guarding me, which he achieves by running straight at other dogs, growling, and CHOMPing them rather hard.
For TWooie, all roads lead to Rome. Rome is found in the country of CHOMP.
You cannot scold TWooie for CHOMPING because it turns him into a quivering mess of terrified goo. It looks something like this.
I would guess TWooie didn’t get a lot of face time with other canines, and when he did, and reacted poorly, he got either yelled at or whalloped. I’m not one of those people who believes that every rescue dog in the world has been beaten/abused/insert sob story of choice here because frankly, most of them have not – a lot of the time, the worst they’ve experienced is a kind of benign neglect (lack of training, attention, exercise). And most of the dogs who are a little hand-shy haven’t been whapped around either. But the ones who cringe and turn into a statue as soon as they misbehave and sense your displeasure, and then try not to make a sound or a movement that will catch your eye – those are the ones who make me sad. Those dogs are the ones who are trying very hard not to incite further anger and since they don’t know what to do, they just freeze and hope the sky doesn’t fall on them.
And while I’m pontificating (me? whuuut?) – for the love of all things that are holy, do NOT list your fresh-out-of-the-shelter foster dog as available. Sure, there are some dogs you can list right away because you can tell everything you need to know about them pretty much right away. Like Kya:
This sweetie will be available through our rescue very soon. Even though we just got her in, she’s an open book and there’s nothing lurking in the shadows at all. She is friendly, enthusiastic, well socialized, well trained, healthy and incredibly adaptable. Some dogs, you can just tell they are the essence of well-adjusted … but as soon as you see shy, fearful, nervous, over-arousal or anything at ALL that looks even a little off – WAIT. Evaluate. Let the dog show you who he is before you start trying to give him to someone else! You’ll save yourself and the dog a lot of bouncing-around heartache.
Anyhoo … back to the TWoo. At first, trips to the dog park consisted of him hiding behind my legs as we walked and the other dogs played, with the occasional skittering after a critter with his brother. After a couple of days, he got rather assertive with dogs he felt were too forward and I saw Mad Teeth™ and sometimes a follow-up CHOMP. Now here we are a week later and I don’t even want to take him to the park because he’ll go out of his way to snarl and snap at other dogs. Nobody takes him very seriously (it’s hard to take a meatball-with-legs as a threat) but given how quickly he’s escalated, I don’t want him to get a chance to make his threats more serious.
He’s even gone so far as to CHOMP some of the household, but he gets a time-out in the Naughty Dog Box for that so he’s given that up pretty quick.
Outdoors, he gets leashed when we see other dogs and rewarded for paying attention to me rather than them. He doesn’t run after other dogs to cause trouble mind, unless they are off leash and running around and playing – then he WILL run after them and CHOMP them in the butt. TWooie doesn’t want to fight, he just wants everyone else to go away.
With some dogs, scolding DOES work – if Dexter is looking like he’s going to raise some hackles I can tell him to “knock it off” and he will. But all it does is make TWooie cringe and then show more teeth at the other dog, or get in a quick CHOMP and then collapse to the ground cringing. So no scolding for the TWoo. I’m trying to set him up for success, but if you have other ideas, I’d be happy to hear them.
Despite his wicked ways, I do so love TWooie. Every so often I catch this glimpse of a care-free dog under all that hair and fat, and I’m looking forward to seeing him blossom! On Thursday I taught him to jump in agility class and he was just so pleased with himself.