As I look at our dog curled up in her basket gently snoring the day away, she looks completely at peace with the world. She’s had 2 walks today, but if the weather continues to take a turn for the worst, her final one won’t be until about 9pm, if at all.
She doesn’t ask for much really (apart from herding us towards the door at ‘regular times’) and gives so much back. These past few days I’ve had extra shares of doggy cuddles, and she’s brought me her chews and toys, laying them gently on my lap. The initial excitement when I reach for the crutches has been replaced with the knowledge that it won’t be so that I take her out, neither are they the latest things to be thrown and fetched.
As she snuggles into a woolly fleeced cushion, her nose tucked between her front paws, tummy and tail, I wonder what she dreams of. By the occasional twitching, I’d guess rabbits, though when she whimpers perhaps not, and maybe some giant Hopper has turned the tables and is now chasing her.
Her position changes, and her front feet are pointing out of her bed, but the back toes are almost adjacent to her chin as she breathes steadily, warm and safe in the confines of our home. We love her to pieces, and to see her like this makes a beautiful picture.
At night, she curls up beside me, a contented sigh suggesting she’s comfortable and about to pass into the land of Doggy Nodd. Sometimes, she cries as she sleeps and I place my hand along her flank or head to stroke the fear away. She soon settles, and I feel her snuggle even closer, that subconscious need for security and perhaps the sense of not being alone. There she will stay until morning.
Of course, I don’t know if any of this is the case. It’s just my interpretation as I put HumanSpeak into a possible doggy scenario.
A dog expert I am not, but our pets give us signs when all is not well in their world, and it is up to us to notice. Limps and tenderness are easy enough to spot (ours will come to us, roll on her back and ‘show us’ if she has a thorn or something stuck in her foot) , but what if your furry friend is anxious, or uncomfortable around people? Or they suddenly develop a Jekyll and Hyde personality?
I have the utmost respect for animal behaviorists, especially anyone who has any dealings with dogs. They go beyond Trainers and by understanding dog behaviour, do not generalise, but Specialise. Sometimes dogs need that special someone in their corner, especially when the situation is not necessarily of their making.
I cannot possibly go into any detail about behaviour and remedies, but all I can say is that I know MY dog, and even though she is good with people, kids and other dogs, she may well have ‘an off day’. If her behaviour is unacceptable, we remove her from the situation by putting her on ‘a naughty step’ which basically is a short distance away from us. She will stay there looking on, and after a few minutes, we’ll invite her back into the group. She knows she has displeased us, but in the case that perhaps she was being protective, or saw another animal as a threat (she does not tolerate fast moving dogs or puppies well as she has a blind side) , having carried on as normal, hopefully the temporary separation isn’t seen as punishment, just as a ‘cooling off assessment period’.
Equally, should unfamiliar dogs approach us, we bring ours to heel, not necessarily to clip her, but so as to have control over the situation. We have got to know which owners have ‘twitchy’ dogs and the woods are big enough to keep out of their way, but in most cases if we meet up with other walkers and their dogs, we have no problems as all are happy comparing sniffs, squats and sharing biscuits. Sometimes we take her with us to the market where obviously she is always on a lead as it is usually busy, but we feel it is good for her to be in different surroundings once in a while.
Recently, the headlines told the story of another child being mauled and dying after a dog attack. My sympathies are with the family, but I wish people would take more responsibility for having a pet, especially if they have young children. (see A Dog for Christmas)
I don’t know the circumstances of this tragedy and therefore cannot comment, other than perhaps the signs were there but were either unnoticed or ignored in respect of both human and canine behaviour.
I still believe Owners are as much, if not more so, to blame for ‘bad dogs’. Every dog is different, and what may work for one may not work for another, but they all have to have training, discipline, know their place in the pecking order and be socialised.
All this takes time, and if you, the Owner, expect your dog to be perfectly behaved with little or no effort at all on your part, then I’m sorry, but in my opinion, you should never have one.
It is not fair to your family.
Or the dog.