Telling people "my dog's not friendly" and getting a prescription for "more dog park", all while they lean over him and rub him roughly, is so exhausting. I don't know what to say beyond repeating "He's not friendly", "I've seen him go nuts lots of times", "Just warning you he might bark and growl and snap right now". Explaining how he actively avoids most people and actually isn't into petting feels like too much effort because people like this refuse to believe a dog might not be into a stranger's attention.
This neighbor snuck up on me when I was trying to pick up a dump and didn't stay away when I told him to. I know at a certain point Sharky's space bubble breaks and if I put anymore tension on his tight leash he's going to lose it. I want to yank him back or jump on him like a bomb but that's a guaranteed denotation. So I let it happen, wishing I hadn't been so pleasant/neighborly in my "go away" warnings since this person misread me as bad as my dog. I'm thinking, how can I turn this around and tell this stranger to GET. OFF. NOW.
Maybe I don't say "He's not friendly" convincingly because I don't believe it myself. What I really mean is "This dog has a long, ever-changing list of peculiar insecurities and since you don't know what will set him off just stay away."
They persist in touching him, like some kind of challenge. Maybe I'm reading into it too much but it's as if they're saying: "See? He's a good dog. You seem to be a novice at this. Let me help you."
They've known him for 30 seconds. Sharky is far from relaxed or playful.
But honestly Sharky doesn't even see the person, because he is too focused on how much he wants to pin and hump their off-leash dog who has been dancing around us all along.
His tail rattles tight. This is mistaken for happiness. It always is. Nobody ever sees the ears, the eyes, the posture, the hackles. "He wants to play/he certainly seems nice!" is something I've heard way too many times.
Finally Sharky's molester gets up from petting him and telling me how to socialize my dog, because another owner has joined us. "He's not friendly!" I say, but I'm not talking to her, I guess. She lets her chihuahua strain against its flexilead at Sharky so they can meet face to face. Sharky is looking at this chi with intense predatory eyes. Straining and rattling. He couldn't stand any higher. God I just want to pick up his poop and run.
"Just saying he's going to start barking!" I say in my stupid happy tone. She finally tells something to her dog like "OK that's enough, stop egging him on, haha!" and pulls him back.
Sharky explodes but I'm quicker, and now I'm choking him while he barks and snarls and throws himself against the leash.
Unbelievably, the man asks me (again, but come on did he just see what happened?): "Have you ever taken him to the dog park? He just needs to be around dogs more."
When I leave the owners are still chatting with each other and I thank them (from a distance) for being understanding about my dog's freakout. They laugh warmly and say "Bye Sharky!"
WHAT WAS I THINKING? Why had I been so spineless? But as fierce as I am in my head, I don't want to be the resident bitch with That Dog. I DO want Sharky to meet happy, forgiving people. I pass this dude and his leashless dog daily. His dog is the kind of sweet, no-waves dog that diffuses Sharky's insecurities... the kind of dog he needs to meet, and be exposed to over time...
But then I get so mad, maybe jealous, when somebody with a super easy dog tells me how they'd fix mine. I was hilariously naive before Sharky. Seriously when he came for a house visit, I insisted on walking through the door first. I turned to the volunteer and said "I'm going to Cesar Milan him!" YES. I used Cesar Milan as a verb. I pretended to eat his food before I gave it to him
There's so much foolery going on out there. And if a reactive dog doesn't come along and correct you, in their hysterical manner, you might never understand dogs because you don't have to.
A real tail wag and play bow. The first time I saw his propeller tail I was shocked that he was capable of doing that, then it dawned on me how unhappy and tense he'd been for like a year and I felt like a monster! I always had the nagging feeling he disliked me and hahaha HE DID. I love his happiness. It's a gift that I earned through sweat, blood, and tears.
It can happen.
But the dog park? Nothing I've seen indicates that he likes dozens of strange dogs running up to him. He is SUPER insecure about getting his butt sniffed so no dog greeting ever goes totally right. This was a photo of the last time I went to dog beach, maybe last fall (I wasn't the one snapping pictures, I was screaming for my dog and waving treats. The huskies had beautiful manners though). We brought Sharky to dog beach because I was too ammatuer to see how he'd been escalating, and when you live in an apartment with an active dog who likes to run you figure you can just keep it under control.
The huskies weren't so bad. What came after, with another dog, was really awful. It was the lowest point in our partnership... just a spectacular failure. No bites. But very ugly and the other dog was innocent. So yeah. I've been the POS owner at a dog park. I don't want to be there ever again.
Anyway. I'm telling this to my blog because it's too complex to tell to that man. All I have is "He's not friendly".
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Sunday, March 3, 2013
A few days ago I introduced the nail clipper to Sharky.
(He's been here about 2 years.)
((The nail clipper has been here for about 1¾ years.))
4 mismatched nails down, 12 to go... AND HE GETS CRAFTIER WITH EVERY CLIP. I haven't hammered the details yet but I have confidence I'll be able to wrap this project up by the end of March.
I'm saving his one black nail for last.