Dangerous Thoughts

Today was another day of high intensity dog involvement for me, and I feel conflicted about it.  On the one hand, I’m completely fascinated with the involvement, from every angle, and find myself almost wishing I were a career dog person, instead of a concert cellist.  On the other hand, I feel, for the first time in my life, slightly obsessed, and I don’t find it comfortable.

The last thing I want, after two days spent obsessing about dogs, is to now spend several hours obsessing over writing about dogs.  So, although I think my fascination with writing isn’t even slightly obsessive, I’m going to force myself to make this blog entry the Reader’s Digest Condensed version.  Here goes.

The friend for whom I wrote yesterday about Sosimo, a newish, dog-lovin’ friend, asked me if I would help find her dog park buddy, Tim, another high energy dog to be his Shepherd mix’s running pal.  Tim recently (last week) agreed to foster a pedigreed Pit Bull whom a friend of his had to give up (because she’s dying–how noble of her to do the right thing–I hope I would be that brave, but I doubt it).  This Pit Bull is a wonderful dog, but she’s never going to be Sampson’s true play buddy.  She’s more into tug of war than running, and more into people than dogs.  

Meantime, Maureen has decided that it will be better for Clarisse and for Max if Clarisse moves on to her forever home, instead of staying with Maureen.  Clarisse plays just a little too roughly with Max.

So, my friend–wait, she needs a pseudonym…got it!  I will call her Den Mother, because she’s a wonderful ‘home away from home’ for dogs, a dog boarder extraordinaire.  

So Den Mother and I both had the same idea, once I told her about Clarisse, and then Maureen fell in love/hope with it, too–a Pit Bull switch!  Could it possibly happen that Clarisse would be the perfect running mate for Sampson (because she does love to run with Max), and the other Pittie would become Maureen’s cuddler, and would not look upon Max as a chew toy?  Maybe, we thought.  Let’s give it a shot.

This was one time where I was the least optimistic member of the party.  Usually I think things will work out, but to me, this one seemed too good to be true.  And…it was.

Oh, I just remembered that this was supposed to be condensed.

OK, Clarisse appeared ready to eat Sampson, right through the fence and all.  Sampson, who, Tim assured us, likes every dog he meets, growled at Clarisse.  I tried to walk Clarisse a little way down the street, because Maureen wanted to visit with Sampson and get his scent on her, and Clarisse took only one look at me, the whole time, and spent the rest of it pulling hard to get back to Maureen.

When she did get back, she said, ‘Hi, I love you’, to Maureen, and then tried to eat Sampson again (not really–it was probably bluster, but it was too much for anyone’s comfort).  Tim politely but firmly gave the thumbs down to trying any further to introduce Sampson and Clarisse.  Clarisse waited in the car, and we met the other Pittie.

She’s a beautiful dog, and very easy to meet.  She’s affectionate to people, and not particularly interested in other dogs.  Den Mother asked me whether I thought, in time, she might grow more interested in Sampson, and more willing to play.  I told her the truth, that I don’t really know.  But, I said, my instinct was telling me that, to one degree or another, she’d always be less interested in playing with Sampson than Tim wished her to be.  And that turned out to be what he thought, too.

One of the things that helped me form this opinion was that by then I’d seen that she appeared at least slightly obsessed with playing tug of war.  I thought that I saw just a hint of guarding behavior–she’d remove her toy from the reach of the other dogs.  There was really nothing to be concerned about, and yet, I thought as I played with her, if she were my dog, I’d probably discontinue any tug games for a while, at least. 

I will probably never know whether the vibe I was getting was a real one, or projection on my part.  I am sure, though, that she was more focused on her toys than she was on either the dogs or the people in the room, although it was subtle.  That’s not my usual experience with Pit Bulls (although I’ve only been hangin’ with them for about six months).  The ones I’ve met at the shelter and through friends have been real people lovers.

So it wasn’t just a question of running.  It was a question of interest.  And Maureen’s Max wants a real, interested friend.  It’s too bad.  He has that, in Clarisse, but probably wonders, ‘Is it too much to ask for, to have a running buddy who doesn’t twist my arm–literally twist my arm?  I mean, Clarisse, look at me, girlfriend–do you see my limp?’ 

So none of this worked out.  It ended with Den Mother asking me to find Tim a dog.  He and I have Facebook friended each other, and I’ve sent him one suggestion.  I have a feeling I’ll never hear from him again, but I’m not worried, because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that one can easily find a dog up for adoption who loves to run.  People are always trying, in fact, to get rid of their dogs who love to run too much, and ‘too much’ is just what Tim wants for Sampson.  So, with or without my help, he’ll do fine.

Maureen and Clarisse, I’m not happy about.  Clarisse is extremely attached to Maureen.  In a perfectly arranged world, Maureen would keep Clarisse, and give Max to Tim, and Sampson and Max would run to their hearts’ content–and not twist each others’ limbs–and Clarisse and Ruby would curl up together and be pampered.  But that’s not gonna happen, nor should it.  Max is Maureen’s dog.  End of story.

Anyway, worry about Clarisse is getting me down, a bit, and contributing to the obsessed feeling I’m having.

Yesterday, at least, the news was wonderful on the Mazy front.  Beloved F is making me more and more happy.  She really gets this dog rescue thing, with her brain and her heart.  I won’t be particularly surprised if she ends up doing some major good in dogland.  She has already paid for all of Mazy’s vetting…

…except that today, we found out that the rescue group didn’t keep Mazy’s vet appointment!  What’s up with that?  More worry, more obsession.

And the most intensely brain cell-consuming thing of all is that it appears that it’s going to be much more difficult than anyone realized to get Sawyere to Florida.  And the scariest thing of all to me is that, as I get more and more frustrated with thinking that I’ve saved him only to have it possibly fall through because he doesn’t have a ride, I want more and more to just get him on a flight myself.  I find myself fantasizing about driving the five or six hours to his shelter, picking him up, taking him to Boston, and putting him onto a direct flight. 

How bad can he be, after all?

And that’s dangerous, because the fact is that I’ve never even seen a very aggressive dog, even on television!  I just have no idea what I’d be dealing with, and have no business thinking of it.  Still, I don’t stop.  I find myself thinking, ‘But there’s that one woman in the shelter whom he doesn’t bite–that could be you, too.’  It’s just that I want it to be me…or maybe it’s that I feel it might come down to this:  it has to be me, or he’ll die. 

I put in a call to the dog trainer here who works with aggressive dogs.  We’ll see if he calls back.  I have fantasies that someone (me?) pays this man, and he escorts Sawyere down to Florida.  Or he keeps him here and trains him, and I pay for boarding somewhere.  Or maybe Keith from Florida has always wanted to vacation in fairly frigid, quite grey upstate New York during late January/early February. 

There must be a way, surely.

Donna, the crossposter who helped me save him, has put a request for a ride for Sawyere onto the Pilots ‘n’ Paws website.  So far, nothin’.  I’ll keep you updated about that.  And in the meantime, it’s a fascinating concept, if you don’t know about it.  Here’s a link:  http://pilotsnpaws.org/

Fitting right in with today’s dog aggression theme was the fact that my own dogs seemed to be slightly riled up and, at times, even snarky.  I won’t say that I began to wish to have some time that was completely dog-free, physically and mentally.  But I did wonder why I was not wishing for that, and that’s when I noticed that I might be becoming obsessive.

So I’m calling it a night.  I’ll try to focus on the easy dog stuff, like the fact that TA has settled for once and for all on a name for ‘Renard’, and it’s perfect–Rupert.  And on the fact that another friend I have, a man who does a great deal of good on our city’s pet scene, got a new puppy.  I will think about a sweet, cuddly puppy, and maybe my obsession will fade away and become just garden-variety dog love.

A new puppy.  Potty training, teething and chew toys, raw vs. cooked food, positive-only vs. correction-based training, crate training or not, sleeping in the people bed or the dog bed…wonder what decisions my friend is making for the new puppy…

Obsession.  I don’t know how to break free.  I don’t know if I even want to.

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2 Responses to Dangerous Thoughts

  1. Anja says:

    On the issue of playing tug:
    Upon my friends encouragement, I went out to purchase specific tug-toys for my BC. She looooooves to play tug and from the beginning I used it as a reward for fetching it, going “harr-harr” slapping her sides…. she REALLY loves that almost more than the all-mighty ball!!
    When Panda got to have her first play dates with my friends Beauceron Mickey, it was her limited experience of playing tug with me, that helped her learn how to play with another dog.
    She was perfectly fine playing around some other dogs….each with their own toy….except for when she was faster and grabbed their toy.
    However, dogs are supposed to tug with each other! If they don’t want to share…. they are supposed to communicate that with sometimes much noise and what appears to be a big deal… but isn’t…
    There are some rules that should be followed on HOW to play tug…. but I believe if done properly, it is an INVALUABLE tool in socializing and rewarding a dog!
    You have to take some time to read Jean Donaldson!

    As to Sawyere…..I wish you and him well! I understand your desire to save this dog. He’s not bad! 99.9% of dogs are not bad and even the 0.01% is probably ‘mad’ not bad!
    Your blog about him and mention of Keith… has fueled my desire to make dogs with aggressive behavior my specialty…. if I go into the training direction. It won’t be for a loooooong time, I have a lot to learn, but I feel confident that I could grow to deal with most fear-based aggression ( which kind of is an oxymoron ). I have had a LOT of success with horses that would fall into that category, I just have to catch up with my knowledge about the dogs. : )

    Get some rest, Ingrid!

  2. Maureen says:

    Hey Ingrid, I meant to sit down and respond to this yesterday but I ran out of time.

    I talked to Rajeena about what happened between Clarisse and Tom’s dog and she helped me see a whole new side to it. Yes, I think Clarisse plays too rough with Max, but I am taking that on myself to teach her limits. Unfortunately at this point, Max refuses to play with her, but we’ll get there.

    Clarisse is so amazing and as I told you, I think her situation will be similar to Audrey’s. If I don’t find her a home where she can be loved and treated as well as, if not better, than I have treated her, then she will stay with me. Also, my neighbor has fallen in love with her and is going to have her stay with her over February recess to see is being a dog mommy is her bag. That would be the best solution possible!

    As for the loneliness you mentioned in another blog, get yo butt over here for a game night!!! We’ll have a blast, I’m sure 🙂

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