We had a surprise coating of snow this morning. It made for a messy morning commute to my first day of classes, but Marge thoroughly enjoyed it when I got home. Here, I egged her on and she did all kinds of zoomy/bitey stuff with the snow.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Today, we saw a neighborhood teeny tiny Boston Terrier who Marge absolutely loves. We met one day in the field a while ago and on subsequent meetings, we would approach each other and they'd begin playing immediately. I was shocked upon approaching them today alongside the road when the owner said, "he bites!"
I thought maybe she forgot who I was, but she remembered me and Marge. The two dogs did approach each other, Marge play bowing and wagging her tail wildly, and he was okay, until all of a sudden, he let out a few big-dog-in-a-little-package sort of noises and the owner quickly pulled him back.
I do not know this woman well at all, but we spoke a little bit about it. She explained that one day, all of a sudden, the little guy just decided to get snarky with a neighborhood Schnauzer, unprovoked (at least to her eye), and after that, he's been iffy with dogs.
He was fine the rest of the time, as Marge sniffed him and he sniffed Marge. He looked like he genuinely wanted to socialize with her, even from the start. To me, I think he became either overstimulated or unsure for that one moment, "spoke up" to make sure he wasn't going to get hurt, and then felt confident enough to continue interacting. It could have been any number of things, but, to me, he did not look inherently aggressive.
I don't know the whole story, or if there was some other triggering factor, but it reminded me so much of when Marge's dog-selective (and wholly fear-based) snarkiness started in June. Here you are, an unassuming dog owner trying to do the right thing, when something goes horribly wrong and you get an unusual reaction from your dog. I wish that no dog had issues, but they are out there, so in one way, it's kind of a comfort to know I'm not alone.
It's so easy to fall into the belief that a given dog's behavior problems are uncommon or unprecedented - I am guilty of doing this myself sometimes. It's a real wake-up call to hear or read the stories of other dogs - some raised by their owners from puppyhood - who have similar or even more severe problems. As I become a part of the dog world, I now find that a very large number of dogs have at least one reactivity, anxiety, stress, or fearfulness demon that they and their owners have to face. Here I thought I was alone - but, I'm not!
I do hope that the little Boston Terrier and Marge can continue to see each other, but Marge isn't exactly the kind of dog who can take a lot of rude behavior from others - I have enough trouble finding suitable playmates for her as it is and don't need to make things any worse. I hope I will see them again in the field someday and hear better news about his behavior.
I think Marge will get a good old fashioned dose of Buddy the spaniel this weekend - absolutely no dog beats that happy, super social little guy who I trust to be a complete gentleman with my quirky girl.
MargeBlog started in early 2009 as a training journal for my newly adopted, skittish Lab mix, Marge. Marge's world was small back then; her fears really limited the things I could do with her. Aside from trips to the park and attending beginner training classes, Marge was mostly a stay at home gal - not because either of us wanted her to be, just because the demons from her unsuitable upbringing continued to haunt her.
Slowly, the fear diminished, her world grew. Now, Marge is a fun-loving, squirrel-chasing, winning Agility and Rally dog who accompanies me to a wide variety of places. Here, you will frequently find detailed training updates, snippets from Marge's every day life at home, and photo-filled posts detailing our many outdoor adventures.
This is more than just a dog blog - it is an actual look in to what one shelter dog's life ultimately became when she found her first and forever home and began to blossom.
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A rescue from Georgia bounced around from shelter to shelter and state to state with her siblings, Marge did not have the luxury of living in a home - my home - until just past her first birthday. A life behind bars had taken its toll on Marge, whose obvious fear of people, noise, and city life in general left a lot for her to learn about how to get by in New York.
Marge is a different dog now than she was back then. It took years of new, positive life experiences, but her fears, which used to consume everything we did, are now only one theme in a great big book of adventures.
These days, Marge enjoys going to training classes, taking trips to agility trials, having play dates with friends, and eating anything that's even remotely edible - not bad for a dog who spent her puppy days in cages.
My time with Marge has been a learning experience for which I am ever grateful. As my first dog, she has taught me and continues to teach me so much more than I ever imagined about dogs, training, and behavioral/fear issues. She's a fun dog with a sense of humor who loves life and learning.
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