I realise I’ve been unsuccessful in keeping up with blogging in the past few weeks… the occasional post here and there. Being out on site is one major part of it. Doodle visiting from University is another! Have I mentioned lately how much I missed having someone to walk with? It’s been so nice to have her home, not only for the walk company, but just because of herself.
The last thing I posted was a rather upset diatribe about a certain dog whose actions towards Gwynn were scaring me, making me angry, and proving that I am a coward who couldn’t bear to make a scene, even if that scene would help my own dog.
I got a ton of great feedback from you all, and I appreciate it. One of the things in particular that got pointed out was that Rex’s owner is probably just as frustrated as me about the situation, and is trying to deal with Rex’s issues. One of my biggest fears about raising and training a dog was that I would find myself with a dog-aggressive dog, or a people-aggressive dog. The kind of dog that makes it hard to really enjoy all the different things you can go out and do with a dog. So I do completely get that she’s trying to improve his reaction to dogs. But it’s making my dog spooked and nervous, and that type of class was the wrong fit for solving her dogs issues.
Last weekend, we took Gwynn down to Pawsway (if you’re in Toronto, they’re a great dog resource, and most of their classes are free, or at least inexpensive) to do some running through tunnels and hopefully cure him of his newfound turtle-reflex in coming out of a tunnel. It worked great, and he ran through the full Agility setup a few times as well. Great – next to see if he’s willing to go through the tunnel that is at our class, in a room where Rex is (nowhere near us, since Doodle came to be my second set of eyes).
This weeks’ class, we set up yet again, as far away from Rex as possible. We were practicing eye-contact from sitting position on one side of the room, while Rex and another dog were practicing eye-contact while walking on the other side of the room. The other dog (whose name I cannot remember) is 13. And mostly deaf. And small. He and his owner got too close (about 10 ft away), and, you guessed it – Rex took the opportunity. The dog is fine – he got jumped on and had a bit of a fright. More noise than contact of any kind. His owner, though – she was more than fine – she was amazing. This soft-spoken older woman turned into a dragon – a fire-breathing Dragon! She dragged her dog out from under Rex, while Rex’s owner tried to drag him off and away.
She was ferocious. She told Rex’s owner flat out that she shouldn’t be in this class and needs to learn to handle her dog (I know, it should have been done earlier, and in nicer terms… but it needed to be done). She told the instructors, in the most ominous tone ever, “We will not be leaving the class. We will also not be in this course with that dog.”
Can you think of a better way of putting it? This is exactly the idea I should have been getting across when Rex went for Gwynn the previous class. “I’m not going anywhere – they are! NOW.”
However – I hate that this happened at all. Like I said, her dog spent the rest of the class completely fine, no harm done. But if I’d just been a bit more aggressive the previous class – stayed after and said flat out “get that dog out of the damn class! This is not the right kind of class for him”, then he probably wouldn’t have been there this week to attack the poor deaf dog.
Once things calmed down, Rex and his owner were in the hall, the instructors went to ask a few questions about Rex. I told the instructor flat out that I wasn’t happy with Rex being in the class ( too little, too late), especially since he’d taken such a continually negative interest in Gwynn. She seemed surprised, when I said that. The class in which Rex lunged at us while we were sitting down was the one class the main instructor had missed – and apparently the two of them hadn’t been comparing notes. She’d thought that the tunnel was the first incident.
Rex is out. They suggested that obedience type classes might be better, and that he might need one-on-one instruction first.
The rest of the class went amazingly. Because there were so few dogs in the class, and they all mind quite well, we did a lot of off-leash work, and a lot of distraction-type work in which the dogs passed near each other while at a heel type position. We ran the tunnel with no issues, and not once did the instructors tell me that I needed to relax or be more up-beat.
Next time I have an issue of this sort, I’ll be a bit more like the Dragon Lady – because Gwynn isn’t particularly ferocious, and I want to keep him that way.