Dog Drama, Part Deux
So, when last I wrote, I was anticipating the meeting of our rescued labradoodle, Sandy, with my daughter’s Austin Animal Aid street dog, Leroy. Having seen both dogs in action, I was concerned. My instincts were right. When we tried to introduce them in the backyard, Leroy turned into Cujo and Sandy didn’t back off. They both have their issues.
Leroy is a cautiously friendly introvert with a chip on his shoulder. Sandy, on the other hand, is an extrovert who thinks everyone loves her, but she also doesn’t retreat from a fight. My old labradoodle, Lucy, is friendly with Sandy because, for some reason, Sandy completely defers to her. I guess she recognizes who runs the household. Lucy tolerates Leroy’s visits by leaving him alone and vice versa.
Dogs are no different from humans. They have personalities. They have pasts that affect their behavior, both good and bad. Plug in the names of humans you know in the above scenario, and you’ll see what I mean.
Understanding and accepting these unique personalities, canine or homo sapien, can help you create peace in your home. If you had some altercations or arguments during your Thanksgiving gathering with family and friends, think about acceptance of the other person (or dog) before your next holiday soiree.
Do a little early planning and be flexible. While we hoped that Sandy and Leroy would mesh, it got ugly pretty quickly, so I was ready with a kennel that I had purchased very inexpensively from one of my neighbors. We gave Leroy plenty of walks and backyard time, so he was fine during his times of confinement in the kennel in my daughter’s room. It probably made him feel secure.
Maybe there are ways to pull out your introverted guests without causing them anxiety. I wouldn’t throw an introvert into a large party any more than I would take cautious Lucy to a big dog park. Too overwhelming! But maybe you could find a comfortable way to give guests who shy away from crowds a little one-on-one time or give them a small job to do. I know that Lucy is most comfortable with me, so I just let her hang out at my feet. I’m not suggesting that human guests hide under the table, but if you have a relative with an introverted child, make sure that child has a puzzle or a quiet activity or an understanding older child to interact with.
And, while the pups can’t talk about their unhappy pasts or their aches and pains, they may express it by refusing to eat or by being clingy or edgy. Humans are no different. You may have friends or relatives (children or adults) who have experienced difficulties or suffered recent losses. Give them space to be sad or angry or to talk. Maybe, like Sandy, they need some extra hugs and attention.
All in all, the week with Leroy and Sandy was relatively peaceful. They both got what they needed. Oddly, when we took them for walks, they showed no interest in fighting.
It’s easy to get defensive with people who are not like you or who are difficult, but think about what they might need from you. It just may be the equivalent of a kind word, a scratch behind the ears, a walk around the block, some good food and a nap.