Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Ferocious Child

There are several ongoing cold-wars being fought around my house at any given time, most of them involving our dog Sadie versus various populations of woodland creatures. Chiefly she has it in for the local deer, who frequently mill about in our yard, peacefully eating acorns just to spite her. However, Sadie's willing to extend her ire toward squirrels and birds, too. She even knows each animal group by name. If we say, "Is there a deer?" Sadie will rush to the front window and peer down the yard. If we say "Is there a bird?" she'll do the same thing, only looking up into the trees. For squirrels she does both. If she sees any of the above creatures, she will bark ferociously and dash back and forth between the windows in search of a better vantage point for barking. If one of us is nearby, she will also make a third stop at the front door, hoping we'll crack it open for her and let her blaze out into the yard, where she will chase after whichever creature she sees until it A) escapes up a tree; or B) travels past her shock-collar boundary. (The funny thing is that 95 percent of the time we don't even make her wear the shock collar, cause we keep forgetting to take it off of her when we drive anywhere. Yet, still she respects her boundaries.)

However, there's another animal type that Sadie doesn't quite know what to do about: other dogs. Unlike deer, birds and squirrels, who flee from Sadie, giving her something fun to chase, dogs are wildcards and may decide to stand their ground. Having never been in a fight, Sadie's not sure how to deal with dogs that are unphased by her terrifying, fluffy presence.

Take, for instance, her boyfriend. This is a neighborhood dog who wanders around freely at night and typically stops by our house at some point in its trek through the area. While I haven't gotten a great look at him, he's a "Terrierish" sort of small to medium sized dog and from his behavior does not come off as being at all aggressive. The first time I saw him was when he happened to sneak up into the yard while we were working in the garage one night and startled Sadie by suddenly being in a place where she had not previously been aware another dog was at. She didn't utter a sound. Another time was in the middle of the night while I was out letting the dog go "potty" and he came bounding from the woods with great energy, making a direct line for Sadie. I wasn't exactly concerned, cause she outweighs him by twice. And to her credit, she didn't run, but she certainly seemed confused as to what to do about him when he halted in front of her and sniffed her about the nose. Then, he turned and dashed off down the driveway with nary a problem.

Since then, he's been back frequently. The closest they've ever come to fighting was when he tried to sniff Sadie's ass and she jumped around and growled at him. Normally, though, Sadie's reaction to his presence is to pretend he isn't there at all. If he's not actively sniffing her, she will ignore him and, instead, sniff areas of the yard he had occupied only moments before. It's as if she's far more interested in having sniffed evidence of another dog that had been in the yard in the past rather than deal with the dog that is right there in the present. The best example of this was a couple nights ago, when she began whining at the back door to get out after hearing our neighbor's fenced-in dogs barking at something. I opened the door, she dashed into the yard and then began running full out toward what turned out to be her boyfriend. As soon as she realized he was a dog and not a deer, she immediately put on the brakes and then trotted a little further down the yard to sniff, as though the dog wasn't there at all. It could only have been funnier if she'd looked back over her shoulder to see if I'd seen her seeing the dog.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want her to get in a fight no matter how well I think she could defend herself. I just find her "dog-blinders" very amusing.

It is, however, more evidence that our dog is in need of more socialization. Or, if my wife has her way, a doggie sibling.

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