Sunday, August 2, 2009

Laugh it Off..

Marge has the right idea here.  That's what I need to learn to do.

My parents had sudden visitors to our house last night, and, long story short, I was bombarded with such comments as..

"If she's this bad with her dog, how will she be with her kids?"
"You're constantly up your dog's 'butt' " (edited to be family friendly)
"You're a nut"
"Leave her alone, she's fine"
"I've had four dogs, so I think I know a little about them"
"I've grown up with dogs, you're new to it"
"You have too many stupid rules.. can't pet her, can't talk to her.."
"She's just a dog"

And I wasn't supposed to get upset by any of them.  They were supposed to be "just jokes," just someone "busting my chops."  Well, I did a great job of not getting upset.. I went down into the basement, my best friend Marge close at my heels (because she WANTS to be, not because I'm following her around), and moped by myself.  Sat there like a child with tears in my eyes, frustrated over the fireworks we had just heard outside (AGAIN), the fact that I can't walk my poor dog to remove her from the stressful environment due to those fireworks, and for the beating I just took for my apparently very strange pooch precautionary practices.

Funny thing is, I wasn't even doing anything.  Marge was exploring the room and I was sitting on the floor (as the nineteen year old, the "adults".. I use this word loosely.. were given first dibs to sit around the table) giving her a few treats.  She wasn't on leash, she wasn't inhibited by me in any way. The only time I reacted is when another, totally unexpected visitor came through my door unannounced.  

Damn right I'm going to grab my dog and bring her to the yard.  It's dark, you're a stranger to her, no one knew who it was, and I, quite frankly, don't need the heartache of having her growl and bark in a fit of fear.  I'd rather be proactive than reactive, but sometimes, as this situation showed, that is not always possible.

Regardless of the context of the comments, regardless of who has had more dogs, regardless of who really knows what they're doing, I am really appalled that someone would speak to me like that.  Marge is not this individual's dog.  This individual does not deal with Marge on a deal basis.  This individual knows NOTHING of classical conditioning, of Pavlov, of positive reinforcement.  Nothing.  But it's still okay to rat on the college kid because apparently she's paranoid and, instead, should be yanking on her dog's neck like Cesar Millan and forcing her to interact with people who scare the life out of her.  Because she's doing things differently than what is considered traditional, she's automatically wrong.  I did not ask for your opinion, nor do I want it.  I'd rather take training advice from a pile of dog poop.

Whatever, I guess.  I'll put it behind me eventually.  I need to keep reminding myself of what's important - I need to be Marge's champion, I need to be strong for her.  Because I'm one of the few who understands.


Anyway, on a brighter - or stormier - note, Marge has been significantly better with thunderstorms.  We've had a few rumbles the past few days and a full-fledged storm today.  The really loud ones still bother her, but she recovers more quickly than she used to.   She did not go and hide, though it was easy to see she was thinking about doing so.  The FEAST game made her decide that staying with me was a better idea.

We went on a long walk down by the beach yesterday.  Marge seemed fine on the actual beach, not terribly concerned with the people around, though I did take measures to keep our distance.  We found walking trails that we never new existed.  Because it was so hot and humid, we didn't walk all the way through them, but it looks like we can have some fun there in the future. On the way back to the car, she wasn't taking treats and had a little bit of a "go go go home" mindset, but I think the heat had alot to do with it.  She walked right past a man unloading beach chairs and such from his car without batting an eye.  I don't know if it was because she was shut down and didn't care, but it seemed more like she just wanted to get to the cool air conditioning.  Who can blame her?


PoochesForPeace August 2, 2009 at 7:06 PM  

It can sometimes be hard to explain to people about all the newer information we know about dogs. People think just because they've had a dog or been around longer that they automatically know more. The thought process of "just a dog" is what can get people in trouble! They aren't simple stupid creatures. They are more intelligent and need a lot more than what people once thought.
So good for you for being respectful to them despite their disrespect. hopefully they'll eventually learn by seeing Marge grow :)

Cinnamon and Mint August 2, 2009 at 9:09 PM  

You should be proud of yourself for what you are doing with Marge. And more than anything, you love her, and I believe she knows it and also loves you. Keep your spirits up!!

Anonymous August 2, 2009 at 9:46 PM  

Marge is one lucky dog to have a you taking care of her. Don't let the ignorant and opinionated people get to you.

Martha August 3, 2009 at 5:52 AM  

You know Marge and they don't - ignore the negative comments.
Someone once said that dogs are man's best friend cos they wag their tails and not their tongues!
We tend to agree.
Keep up all your good work with Marge - we are glad she has such an insightful owner.
Martha & Bailey xxxx

Sue August 3, 2009 at 12:17 PM  

There will always be rude and ignorant people around with lots of advice. Just remember Marge depends on you and only you really know her. Try not to let them get to you.

Astrid Keel August 4, 2009 at 11:34 AM  

Goodness gracious! momster keeps her mouth shut regarding dog ownership unless asked; but daddy is one of those people you mention in the post... he can't help himself, much to momster's embarassment. I guess the only way you can make it seem better is think that they mean well and they care enough for you and Marge to give you advice, no matter how misguided or inappropriate it is. Sigh... It will be easier to train Marge than train those people and Daddy to keep their thoughts to themselves!

Unknown August 5, 2009 at 1:12 AM  

Hi Marge & Sam,

I saw you on Brownie's blog and thought I'd come over to say hello!

Just wanted to say that I so sympathise with you on this - dog training is one of those topics where everyone thinks they're the expert! And like you said, it's often based on a distant memory of a dog they had as a child - or even if they have had dogs all their lives, if they're doing things "wrongly" or using outdated methods, their experience doesn't really count for much!

Honey is my first dog and we went through a difficult time with her in her "teenage phase" - and I thought my head would explode from all the contradicting advice and opinions I was given! Now that I know better and have had a lot more experience successfully training both Honey and other dogs, I still get those stupid comments from people who obviously know very little or who keep spouting dominance myths and it can be very hard to keep my temper sometimes! :-)

I guess you just have to try and ignore them (easier said than done, I know!) and know that you're doing the best for Marge, based on a lot more pro-active research and learning then theirs! :-)

I also often get a lot of comments that I'm too "neurotic" about my dog and too hard on her and too hung up on training...but then I know those are the very same people who would jump down my throat if Honey ever put a paw out of place. Especially with dogs like ours that are always blamed for anything, it's better to err on the side of caution and prevent situations before they occur - as you seem to be doing - because people are so unforgiving when any incidents do happen, even if it's not our dogs' fault at all!

Anyway, I think Marge is very lucky to have found you and keep up the good work! Do come by and visit us sometime -

Hsin-Yi (& Honey the Great Dane)

Carolyn August 17, 2009 at 11:47 PM  

I agree with what every one else has had to say about this post.

You're totally doing the right thing. You are her champion and her guardian. I have the exact same attitude about my dogs.

And, to those that say "I've had 4 dogs, blah, blah, blah..."...Guess what? Cooper is my 4th dog and I was in no way prepared for his shyness and fearfulness. He was soooo very tender and has taught me a lot about being an owner/training. We, as owners, must continue to evolve. Nothing is ever set in stone...except for positive reinforcement.

So keep on keepin' on! Marge looks like a happy, healthy you must be doing something right! Lol!

P.S. I know you've mentioned "Control Unleashed" on this blog. It's my absolute favorite and I wish I had purchased it when Cooper was younger. I really recommend it to everyone! This is not just a book for "problem dogs".

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