Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Is There ANYTHING Good about Tonight?

Tonight we had a very scary situation, unlike anything that's happened here before. And it just exemplifies the added challenge of working with a reactive dog in a multi-dog household. Pardon me while I take a deep breath, as I know for sure that I was the most traumatized by the explosion in the house.

I got home from work just a bit later than usual. Sydney has been going to work with me, and over lunch or in the early afternoon, we go for a walk and do a bit of training. The normal course of events when I arrive home is to put Syd in her crate to attend to the dogs that were left home during the day. Like clockwork, the other dogs went outside, and I started to prepare their supper. Supper involves heating up the chicken, getting various things out of the fridge (yogurt, probiotics, veggies), and setting up the bowls in a specific order on top of Syd's crate. Then I dispense the supplements and veggies, lastly adding the heated chicken to the bowls. I usually do this while the herd is still outside. Tonight they were impatient because I was running late.

I let everyone inside, and as I was shutting the back door, Syd started screaming. She had her toe stuck in her crate. The other dogs, frenzied for their supper and at the sound of the screaming Syd, started in our direction. I'm pretty sure an "Oh Sh*t" formed in my brain, as I was trying to free one dog and prevent the others from ganging up on Syd. Bree was first to arrive and grabbed Syd's thigh. She wasn't viciously attacking, but doing something I see freqently in corgis. Dart in, nab, and then back out. Repeat. I finally got Syd's foot free of the crate, and I just pulled her up with one hand, and swung her up as high as I could (I'm nearly 6 feet tall). Bree was still jumping trying to reach Syd, and Syd was snarling, growling, and generally acting like a furball of fury trying to defend herself. I could not blame her for her reaction to the situation this time.

The "joiners" were all barking and trying to get involved. Although my corgis are not typically the "go for the blood" types, the start of this event was a young dog screaming and yowling in pain, so I was not going to take any chances that things would escalate. It was definitely an adrenaline charged event. My corgi boys generally know when mom means business, and as soon as I could focus on them, I sent them OUT of the kitchen.

What good could possibly come of this situation??? Well, when Syd gets into her "mode" of snarly, ugly-face dog, she will NOT be deterred. Trying to get her attention has been an exercise in futility. Tonight, as Syd was snarling and trying to protect herself while hanging in mid-air above the gang of barking dogs, I called her name to try and get her to calm down. I was afraid I was going to drop her if she didn't calm down. I was so surprised when my ugly-faced dog stopped snarling and actually made eye contact with me. I was so happy with this breakthrough, in light of the massive fiasco that was NOT Syd's fault, I feel like my girl is definitely showing signs of rehabilitation.

The dogs all settled down, had supper, and none of them seems worse for wear. Surprisingly, Syd was quite subdued and submissive afterward, and we went outside and played ball for a bit to try and de-stress her. She acts fine, and I'm hoping that this won't be a huge setback for her.

All this goes to show that in a multi-dog household, the program to get Syd over her fears is going to be that much more of a challenge. And I have to be patient, and not get discouraged when Syd's program hits a roadblock. As I look at Syd at my feet, Hawk the Vallhund is licking Syd's face and ears. He's forever the nurturer, and always wants everyone to be happy.

1 comment:

Preston Surface said...

I bet this was real nerve racking for you.

It reminds me of the time when I was a small boy and I closed a door on a kitten. The door wouldn't close good so I pulled even harder and continued to do so unitl I discovered the orange kitten.

The kitten did not make it. Nearly 50 years later I still feel bad for the kitten.