We were recently gifted with a box of rawhide bones. I don’t feed these things to my dogs, as I prefer to give them healthier, raw bones to snack on, but I figured what the heck … they’d come in handy for those super shitty weather days, or the odd occasion after work where I am just too tired to go out in the dark for another walk.
I put this latter theory to the test on Wednesday night. Dexter made short work of his, as did Tweed. TWooie and West have both apparently never seen a rawhide, did not recognize them as food and abandoned theirs immediately. Piper sat on hers, atop a dog bed, and growled at everydog who so much as looked in her direction. And Wootie carried his around the house crying, because he wanted to take it outside and bury it and I wouldn’t let him.
Rawhide: 60% fail rate.
The uneaten rawhide sticks have been floating around the house for the last couple of days. I keep picking them up and Wootie keeps finding my hiding places, and taking them away, just to carry them around whimpering. Because Wootie has more fortitude than me, I eventually gave in and let him take one outside today on our afternoon walk. I then asked him if he would like to give it to me for safe keeping.
But Woo … I have cookies. And I will trade you one for the rawhide.
Eventually we worked out a swap, and a game! He would give me the rawhide, I would give him a cookie, and then I would throw the rawhide as far as I could and he would race frantically after his flying treasure. Since Mr. Woo has now almost entirely abandoned playing fetch with me in favour of hunting wabbits, the game was fun for both of us. Well, at least for me. Maybe for him it was rather stressful ;-)
TWooie was also interested in the rawhide, maybe because it was pre-gnawed and therefore more resembled something he could eat. As I have so far not been even slightly successful in interesting the TWoo in toy games, I thought this could be a good opportunity to transition him to something interactive. I threw the rawhide for him and he actually ran after it! So far, so good. And then he tried to go bury it (and someone said they didn’t think the WooTWoo are related??) so I was once again forced to playing the cookie-swap game.
What I forgot is that TWooie takes his treasures very, very seriously. When he released the rawhide for the cookie, it did indeed get stolen from under his feet, and this caused him no end of trauma.
Actually, YOU suck, West.
He doesn’t *totally* suck. Like most dogs with issues, things are bound to get somewhat worse before they get better. Things like car-sickness. I found the Gravol minimized the puking, but did nothing to stop the endless stream of copious drool that leaked out of his clenched teeth in the car, so I stocked up on towels and stepped up the laundry. It got so bad that he would start drooling in the house when he knew it was getting close to time to leave for work, and then it got SO bad that he would start drooling when he saw me whip out the Gravol box TWO HOURS before we left, and fought me like crazy when I tried to get them down his throat.
So imagine my surprise when, while driving to agility class last night, I glanced over my shoulder and found that rather than hunched over tensely in his crate creating another one of the world’s biggest oceans, West was fast asleep in his crate, almost totally DROOL-FREE! That was a rather sudden switch, but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I have bigger things to worry about.
West’s stranger-danger issues are becoming rapidly more pronounced. On Tuesday we went for a walk at Bridgeman after work with a friend and West did quite a nice job of ignoring most people we encountered, which was a lot of people. He was far too busy trying to keep an eye on Dexter, who is his most favouritest thing in the whole world.
He even sat down periodically next to women he deemed “safe” and let them scritch his ears. Although to be completely honest, I’m not totally convinced he realized those “safe” women were not, in fact, me when he did it. He had one minor freak out at a man who stopped dead on the trails in front of West, put his hands on his hips, leaned over and boomed “Well aren’t you are a nice looking little dog?” but he called off real fast. So far so good.
At class last night though, different story altogether. He has decided that The Sadist is a NO GOOD VERY BAD THING and while he would go through my “say hi!” routine with great reluctance and even take a cookie from him, there were conditions: the Sadist had to be crouched down, turned sideways, not looking at him and holding a cookie backward. While it warms my heart to see my evil teacher in such an uncomfortable and compromising position (payback is a bitch!) it nevertheless concerns me that as soon as The Sadist stood up and squared up to West, West lost his shit. Lots of growling and barking. When The Sadist walked away, West went after him from behind. This, I do not care for. The more personal confidence West achieves, the bolder his Go Away signals are becoming.
A week ago I would have said that West’s chances of safe placement were 80% in his favour. I’ve now downgraded him to more like 50%. I need him to choose retreat over aggress, or he’s not going to be adoptable :(
Recently, someone who doesn’t like dogs told me that I can’t control 6 dogs. And that someone is, sadly, right. I mean, I CAN control 6 dogs and have done so successfully many times in the past. But I cannot control *these* 6 dogs. I cannot work on TWooie’s dog aggression and West’s stranger dangers at the same time. My puppy is gettin’ the shaft, and we need to work on some impulse control and buffing up some commands that he knows, but is now lazy about following. The WooTWoo have basically given up all pretense of obedience. But there’s just too much going on. What West needs is a foster home who can focus on him, because I don’t want to be the reason he fails.
And that’s the un-fun of being The Rescue Lady. I have to step up when nobody else will. Sometimes, it just makes me want to kick something.
So I did. I booted the soccer ball clear across the river!
Fool me once:
The second time, he totally refused, so Piper had to do the deed.
I can take a hint. I stopped kicking it into the river after that.
I guess I will spend this weekend thinking about ways to help West overcome his hurdles.
But if there is anyone out there in dogland who is experienced with dogs with stranger danger problems and thinks they could do a better job than me, don’t hesitate to offer! I want West to have the best possible chance at becoming a safe canine citizen that he can. If someone else can do what I just do not have the time to do, I’m completely comfortable handing him over. If you think you can help West, please contact me. I won’t be offended!!
And don’t forget that this weekend is the live broadcast of the National Sheepdog Finals!