Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Downhill Slide Begins

Poor Sydney, her mom (that being me) did not realize that one incident that *seemed* to be a minor blip on the radar was monumental to the confidence of a young puppy. I still regret a thousand things I could have done to avoid Syd's tail being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Through the rest of the weekend in Wisconsin, Syd acted OK off of the show grounds. A group of Vallhund exhibitors were all staying at a friend's home, and we had several youngsters all playing and running together. Syd played happily with the Vallhund puppies and adults, even though I did notice that she hung back just a bit from the main flurry of activity.

We travelled home from Wisconsin, and went back to the normal day to day activities. Syd's "Aunt Julie" has a Rough Collie, and I called her and said that I needed to get Syd over to play with Jackson the Collie, because Syd had a little 'episode' with a Collie, and I wanted her not to be afraid of Collies. After our first Collie 'playdate' it was obvious that Syd did NOT have a problem with Collies. My friend labelled the Corgi and the Collie outing as a total love affair, the two dogs could not play enough. WHEW, I was breathing a sigh of relief, thank goodness this isolated incident was over, and my dog was normal, no worries at all, right? I kept taking Syd to some classes, and all appeared to be just fine.

In September, we went to another dog show, and Sydney was very good the first day, as long as stranger dogs did not get right in her face. She was happy to let dogs go about their business from a distance. I thought all was well. Then the second day, my little girl came unglued. A hairy border collie walked by about 15 feet away from us, and this sweet, angelic Cardigan erupted with barking and posturing, as if she were defending herself from an attack. Uh, the dog wasn't even looking at Sydney, but that didn't seem to matter to Syd. Well, I couldn't get my girl out of that situation fast enough, and I spent the better part of the afternoon crying because somehow I failed my dog, and wondering if I could manage this dog who definitely now has a problem. What had I ever done to make her act this way? Where did she forget that she could trust me, that I wouldn't let anything happen to her? Well, Syd wasn't answering, and I'll never know the answers, or what the basis for this new reactivity is. All I know is this is the dog I have now, and it's up to me to try and fix the situation.

I will admit that this was a horrible feeling, unlike any of my experiences with rescue dogs who come to me with unknown baggage. I knew this puppy was raised in my house, with lots of socializing and she had a good start in life. Two months ago she was the ideal puppy, happily going to dog shows, not stressing out about any situation. I wasn't sure exactly how to fix the situation, but I did know that for the time being, Sydney would not be going to dog shows, as the stress level was more than my little girl could handle.

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