Communication classes with Marina Garfagnoli

After few months of being on the outs and by that I mean being out of the dog society we went on the very famous communication classes. For dogs! Yeah, I know – I should be attending  classes for people but I gave up on my social skills after even Dale Carnegie wasn’t able to help me. But there’s still chance for Hugo so we went for it!

It was a wonderful experience. Marina is an amazing person, her knowledge is impressive but I was also in awe of her modesty. The way she reads dogs is simply amazing not to mention her ability to look but not judge. There is so much you can learn from her and it seems she loves the process. No question went unanswered and trust me there were plenty. What I really liked is that she understands that there’s life after the classes. That the environment isn’t always safe and well… shit happens! That was my biggest fear before attending this workshop. How does it transfer from the laboratory to normal life outside of school? The answer is: it does and it doesn’t. There are some inevitable mistakes which can slow down the process but it’s worth taking anyway. I was thankful for a things she said. She compared 3 dogs, including Hugo and said you can work with them starting at the same point, doing exactly the same and end up in different places. People often say dogs are different but she actually understood and meant that. And I was thankful to her for that.

The interactions

Fortunately or unfortunately (I cannot decide on that) I know Hugo quite well and wasn’t surprised by his behaviour. What came as a nice surprise though, is that he’s communicating more than I thought. He’s still more of a Rincewind than Gandalf but there are some unmistakable signs that he’s trying.

Ok, you can easily mistake them! Hugo, the cheerful owner of a quite complex personality is a one dog orchestra… but jokes aside! He can present aggressive behaviours but he’s main social competences lie in a provocative and competitive behaviour. Not to mention he’s stubbornness.

And all of that is underlaid with the insecurity around dogs.

Still, he can be a nice guy when given a chance. At this point, it depends on the other dogs competences and social skills. I believe he’s unable to make a right move under stress. When he’s in the right state of mind he stops perceiving dogs as a threat and he’s behaviour changes 180°. It also changes to 180 different states but this you already know.

The workshop helped me to put some new puzzles together. I’ve intuitively seen the picture but thanks to Marina it came to me more clear, based on facts and not only suspicions.

Marina told me that sometimes behaviour that looks aggressive – a so-called “rough play”, meaning the physical contact (not baring the teeth), might be a way for a dog to try to stop another one. I think it’s possible that  Hugo’s trying to get out of the situation while at the same time enjoys running with dogs – it’s exciting – so he continues to do so.

Hugo’s interactions weren’t surprising. First one showed that he needs a strong, assertive dog that knows how and when to use the more aggressive signs for Hugo to back up. The first dog he met was too polite for him and her “no’s” didn’t make the right impression. Or no impression at all.

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Next interactions confirmed my suspicions about the insecurities. I believe Hugo prefers not to interact with unfamiliar dogs.  I’ve suspected it for some time but in Spain it was possible to actually see the relief when he understood that most dogs won’t come near. We used to live in a great place where people respected each other and dogs didn’t have to greet all the time. If someone was open for greetings than yes, but if not there was no forcing one on another. And day by day, I saw my dog getting calmer and more relaxed.

Here, on classes I’ve seen it again. After the first interaction which at the beginning  was stressful but turned out to be just fine, Hugo felt much better and on the next one he wasn’t so inclined to go and check out the dog sitting in the fenced area. For what is worth Hugo is better in ignoring the dog when it’s lying or sitting but still – progress. It took him some time to go and check out the dog inside and when he went he was much better than the day before. They met through the fence, tense at the beggining but as the emotions went lower after a while, Hugo refocused on the environment.

It’s just a theory but I think that not only the interactions mattered but also the ability to sniff the area. It was full of intense smells – the interactions took place in the same area so there was a lot of “stress” in the air – and still, it was safe. For a moment I thought that it made him a bit calmer on walks but I’m not so sure about it anymore.

In a perfect world

I knew I won’t fix Hugo in 3 days but somewhere deep down I thought that maybe if I see him interacting with dogs off-leash in the safe environment it would show me that Hugo can interact and I can trust him more often and even let him run towards unfamiliar dogs. Unfortunately, it reassured me that I’m doing the right thing not letting him do so.

Sometimes I feel overprotective – no! Sometimes I feel that people think I’m overprotective but I just know him too well. When I say he won’t come back, he won’t. When I say he won’t like this dog, he won’t. I just don’t want him to fight. If that’s overprotective than OK, I am.

It’s a beautiful idea to let the dogs make their own decisions, to listen to them carefully and respect their feelings. But what if you got a dog like mine who’s incapable of making good decision and by “good” I mean safe and smart? It’s a question I often ask myself and haven’t found an answer yet.

Marina lifted my spirits up a bit saying Hugo’s to young to communicate perfectly. But as I’m not so sure wisdom comes with age in this particular case I won’t leave that to chances. We got a work to do, Mister, and a lot of it so get ready!

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Smart decisions written all over Hugo’s face.

Looking at Hugo I couldn’t help but thinking where were we a year ago. What’s the biggest of our achievements since then?

  • he can focus on the environment in others dog presence,
  • he can run towards me (away from the dog) if I go far enough into the depths of the spider’s web,
  • he gets hold of his emotions much sooner,
  • believe it or not – he’s less intense in contacts with dogs.

We’re far from perfect but we’ve done a hell of a job.

As some of you may suspect I’ve lost my faith dozen times already and I’m still not happy with the results. It can and should get better. My watch hasn’t ended just yet.

 

Workshop organizer: Psia Wachta

Photo credit: Magda Urban

 

 

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Crazy dog lady

I’ve never thought of myself as of a Crazy Dog Lady. I’ve always imagined this person as someone surrounded by dogs, with a long braid, loose clothes and maybe a tiny bit smelly apartment.

But if you are offered a trip and hesitate to go (or better want to scream: “No, thank You! I’m good.”) it’s time to consider yourself one.

The hardest thing

I so much don’t want to go. On the one hand, I feel ashamed of wanting to skip a nice holidays and stay cuddled with my pup but on the other… damn! In my thoughts it sounded as if there’s a place for the other hand but apparently the other hand is the one filled with nuts or some other fruits a brain can turn into.

Wonder what brought on those thoughts?

Yesterday I left Hugo with my parents. For 8 days! Somehow (I’m really proud of myself) I’ve managed to hold tears until the 2nd floor (my parents live on a 4th). The only thing that forced me to do that was not to mess with Hugo. Of course, I told him that I’m taking a suitcase but I’m coming back soon as I always do. To be honest he seemed fine with it. Just before leaving I gave him some food and he as usually was eager for me to leave and for him to eat the food.

Separation anxiety

It’s nice people care more and more about dog’s anxiety and the separation issues but why no one taught ME how to deal with it? You tell me?!

I’m crying at the mere thought of him or something resembling something we do together or he could be doing. For Pete’s sake! I’m crying right now!

It made me think, seriously think, of how people can abandon their dogs? Hugo is under good care, my parents were on a trial, my mum felt as if she was being examined (and she was) and still I can’t wait till I see him again and I’m thinking about him all the time.

Probably, my feelings are a bit too strong, there is a slight chance of me overreacting but to just say: “goodbye doggy, you don’t fit to my life anymore” that is just utterly mean. Of course, there are situations in life, mistakes or some special circumstances that I get – actually, my first dog came to us because she was too much for her previous owners. She was just perfect for us. I’m talking about those kind of people who buy new furniture and the dog doesn’t agree with new wall paint so they send him away.

Maybe I am a Crazy Dog Lady but I think that if you own a dog it should be hard for you to go away without him even for a day or two. Not as hard as it is for me (because let’s face it – I’m crazy) but when everything you do seems better with a dog it must mean you’re made for each other.

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However, the 2nd Human says that Hugo must be relieved to have holidays from me. Can you imagine?! I hope he’s wrong but honestly, I’m glad this wonderful dog feels so comfortable without me. That means I’m not toxic for him. What a relief…

Pack your dogs bag. Going abroad.

I want this post to be a small guide but not only. I want to share some of my thoughts and tips about how I dealt with issues regarding travelling with a dog. So probably it can be longer than I think it will be. But I’ll try to keep it short. As there are many blogs about travelling with a dog, I’m not gonna cover the basics but instead share my experience.

Pack your bag and go wherever music takes you, kitten!

…unless you have a dog. It’s not so simple to pick up and go but it’s easier than it sounds.

We’re fortunate enough to be a member of an EU and it makes travelling through Europe much easier. We’ve decided to go the old-school way, which is by car.

I’m not going to write exactly what you have to do before going abroad because it can change and I believe it’s good to check the legal requirements on the official sites and with vet few weeks before you depart. Remember! Some countries are more strict, so check out rules for every single country you’re gonna be visiting.

From what I’ve gathered the most important legal requirements in EU for a EU member are:

  • The passport. Sometimes you get a dog with a passport already from a breeder but usually you have to go to the vet, pay some money (in Poland around 100zł / 25 euros) and keep the medical record up to date. Take from my experience and choose a vet who seems competent enough to fill it out eligibly and correctly so you don’t end up like me… suffice it to say if it was up to my passport the blog would be about some Iwona and her Jack Russet…
  • The rabies vaccination. So what record should be inside of it? Rabies is a must! You have to stick to the rules. If the dog doesn’t have rabies vacination on time you won’t pass the borders or there’s some expensive quarantine ahead. Technically, in the Shengen Zone no one is going to stop you at the border but someone can stop you on the way.
  • The parasite treatment. Don’t forget about worms and parasite treatment. Even if you check the stool for parasites you should give a pill hours before crossing the border.

FYI, I was told that the rules usually change at the beginning of the year.

TIP: It’s not necessary but I think it’s smart to examine the dog at vets before you go, especially if you are planning a longer stay.

Forget me not. The dog packing for a trip.
Forget-me-not.

Gear up

The problem with safe travelling with dog is that the market isn’t fully equipped yet (lately I’ve seen some crates with certificates but not sure if they’re delivered to Poland). Technically, you can get a crate (metal or plastic) but how to adjust it to the car? If you somehow put the belts through it, won’t the plastic break in case of an accident? It’s the same with all the equipment: safe belts or harnesses.

When you buy safety seat for a child there are certificates. It’s a pity, safety didn’t get to the pet store yet. I’m sure there would be plenty people interested.

Nevertheless, you have to make travel as safe as possible. When I see photos or worse – videos – of dogs sitting on a drivers lap I can’t stop but think they’re simply morons.

How I drive with my dog?

  • A harness, the builded-up guard type and the belt. I’ve checked harnesses dedicated for cars but as I said there were no certificates and I couldn’t spot any difference. Recently I’ve found ones which passed crash tests and I’m thinking about getting them – Sleepypod Clickit.
  • A material crate. I know it’s far from perfect but definitely better than nothing.

Don’t forget about water. Hugo’s not a heavy drinker so sometimes I “force” him to drink by throwing some snacks into the bowl.

Motion sickness

Hugo behaves great in a car. He instantly falls asleep but unfortunately he also has a motion sickness. When Hugo was a pup he vomited almost every time we’ve been driving a car. It got better as he grown older but still it happens sometimes. As there are many dogs and owners who struggle with it I’ve decided to write a short piece regarding dealing with it.

In our case there was no difference if Hugo was in a crate, in front or in the back, so I’m skipping basic advice and write what helped us. If your dog is afraid of riding in a car you should work on this issue first.

I’ve figured out some things that can decrease the chance of puking:

  1. A long walk. When Hugo’s tired there’s less chance he feels sick (less drooling and less vomit). I let him run freely and sniff. On occasion I’ll even throw a ball.
  2. The mood. I’ve noticed that stress plays a huge factor in Hugo’s motion sickness so when I’m low on time I give him a toy so he can chew his troubles away – a pineapple or his favourite artichoke. If we’re really short on time I give the violet face-ball.
    Note: I don’t allow him to chew in the car for safety reasons. It’s only before ride.
  3. The food. For Hugo it works best if he eats a little bit before a ride than to go on an empty stomach. But some dogs are better not eating at all.
  4. Ginger. It’s supposed to calm the stomach but unfortunately we weren’t able to test it. Hugo detests ginger. Once, I’ve tried to sneak it in with a portion of beef but he quickly got to the bottom of my mischief and looked at me with the look of derision.
  5. Check with Vet. If the motion sickness is really serious it’s always good to talk to the vet and think about solution, maybe some medication. Never do it on your own.

I hope these tips can be helpful. Travelling with dog can be awesome as long as you’re prepared. Good luck and safe travels!

On tour – Andalusia

I wanted to share my beautiful trips with you but wasn’t sure if there was a right angle to it. We’ve visited some amazing places and somehow it’s a bit sad not to share them with anyone. Especially that our loyal perro Sancho Panza (as I call him in Spain) is also a tourist here.

From my perspective (as I take Hugo almost everywhere I go) it’s nothing to write about. It’s normal. I go, so he goes. Obvious, isn’t it?

But then I thought longer and I’ve found an angle and this angle was staring right at my face for a long time (smiling viciously I assume). The reactiveness.

I’m not only travelling with a regular perro iberico but with a reactive one.

El perro reactivo

For starters I thought I have to work on a vocabulary a bit so I can inform people what’s inside that little furry head. I think it’s an important step. If your dog isn’t comfortable with other dogs or people it doesn’t mean he has to stay at home all the time, but you have to keep everyone safe and comfortable. To learn few phrases in spanish won’t hurt and isn’t very difficult. What is difficult is to understand the answers. I use words like el perro reactivo, gruñir or lately the 2nd human came up with a new one pointing towards Hugo to a passerby and stating: loco. I’m definitely adding this one to my vocab.

PROS & CONS

This whole spanish adventure is a great opportunity to check out the variety of Hugo’s skills. And believe it or not, he has plenty of good ones!

On the plus side, he’s small and cute so people react in a positive manner. The part of him being small is definitely an advantage (I can pick him up whenever necessary) but the second part of being cute can be a bit annoying because people tend to make weird sounds and noises towards him and sometimes he goes into the flirtation mode I don’t like. Fortunately, with a lot of happening he often shows he’s a better dog and ignores them.

Antequera
Antequera, Corrida de torros. Hugo aka Hugador is checking out the bull fights arena.

As for a proper JRT he’s not scared of new places, crowds or noises and that’s wonderful because I know I can take him with us and he won’t be a shivering mess.

Do’s and dont’s

Of course, sightseeing with a dog has its limitations. We cannot enter any museums or cathedrals but there’s absolutely no problem in having some Sangria and tapas. In restaurants and bars Hugo behaves well. He’s not the type of dog who’d go and sleep with all those smells but he sits quietly trying to hypnotize food to fall down. To be perfectly honest sometimes he pulls toward a fry someone had dropped. And he’s quite persistent.

Dog in the restaurant
Frigiliana. If you look close you can see Hugo sitting and waiting for some food to fall.

Once in a restaurant I wasn’t allowed to go inside to the loo with him because apparently some dogs tend to pee there.

“Hugo would never do that (I hope)!”

But seriously, guys, control your dogs or at least clean up afterwards.

As to the clean up. Doggy-bags! It’s shameful enough for Hugo to poop on a white stone pavements but to leave the kaka on it would be simply disgraceful.

Managing the environment

To keep the reactivity at bay I have to carefully monitor the surroundings. That’s a bit tiring but as we’ve been working on it for a while it’s not dramatic. There are many dogs who he can pass by without even pulling (or mildly pulling). If I see that there could be a problem and there’s no other way I take him up on a command, hold in my arms and force-feed some snacks. If there’s another dog in a bar it’s usually not a problem. When the dogs lie or sit calmly he doesn’t treat them as a threat and focuses on our tapas.

When we’ve been looking for an apartment, we took Hugo to the agency so they can see what a well-behaved dog he is. As we were leaving a chihuahua happened and Hugo showed his worse self. Funny thing! We didn’t hear from the agency again.

Staying at home

As to the apartment. I don’t take Hugo everywhere. Sometimes the trip would be too demanding or I’d like to see some monuments and places dog’s aren’t allowed. He stays home.

Great thing about him is that he really can stay anywhere. I can drop him at friends or family and he’s not making any scenes of being lost and forgotten. We didn’t have any problems staying at different flats and apartments. However, I stick to the rule. If I’m in an unfamiliar place and he’s left alone I put him in a crate. I don’t think he’d destroy anything but I don’t want to take any risks. Especially, that he really feels comfortable and safe inside his “home”. When we moved into our apartment I left him in a crate for a few days but when I’ve noticed he’s getting accustomed to the new surroundings (knowing which pillow is mine) I’ve started leaving him in a bedroom.

Dog manners and skills

If I was to summarize the set of skills every dog traveler should have, I’d go for:

  • easily adjustable and comfortable in new surroundings,
  • well-socialized – not scared of crowds, sounds, new things, people etc.,
  • well-behaved – even Jack Russell needs some manners (eg. sit, down, stay, leave it, leash manners),
  • comfortable staying at home alone.
Pampaneira
Pampaneira

The point of this article is to show that dog can be a part of your life not only an obstacle in your plans.

Obviously, you have to put some effort and prepare both you and your dog for that. My heart breaks every time I hear about people throwing away their dogs because they didn’t fit into the suitcase, metaphorically speaking.

Fro many it’s still uncommon to think about traveling with a pet. Before coming to Spain I was asked many times: “What with Hugo?” and I replied: “What about him? We’re not going without him”. Seriously, one of the best parts of this trip is that we’re here together. All of us.

And if you don’t get that, well… maybe it’s not time for a dog yet?

A broken clock

It is said that socialization is the key to having a confident and happy dog. It’s true. I’m not going to argue about the importance of early socialization cause I don’t like to fight with facts.

And it’s a fact that if you don’t socialize your dog it can become a shivering mess, no matter big or small. However, I believe there are some misconceptions about how the dog would or should turn out if properly socialized.

And before we begin, what I think a proper socialization is? It’s showing the world to the dog (new places, people, other dogs and animals) by not overwhelming him. It’s obviously taking the dog out from his comfort zone but at the same time keeping him happy and secure. However, I don’t think it’s necessary to show him absolutely everything at once. A boat? Where in hell will I find a boat now? And not only find it, take a cruise! With only 4 weeks left!

I believe socialization is not about showing EVERYTHING. It’s more about showing the dog how to deal with weird and scary. I’ve written a short bit how the socialization went with us so go ahead and read if you’re interested.

Expectations vs reality

I was under the impression that if I socialize my dog he’ll turn out just fine. Well, not fine. Perfect! Like a swiss watch.

Boy, was I wrong…

Hugo, Jack Russell Terrier, 1.5 yo

More and more people are socializing dogs but does it mean that more and more dogs become perfect? I still see plenty of them overreacting, chasing cats, birds and squirrels, being afraid. So what’s wrong?

I think mistakes during socialization are bound to happen. It’s impossible to control the whole environment. There’s always a person who can startle our dog by grabbing him from behind. There’s always an unfamiliar dog who might run to you and though “friendly”, he can startle your puppy with his attitude – either too cocky, too playful or just being… too much.

You can say that, ok – if my dog got startled by this crazy lady than I’ll show him a hundred more who are nice and know how to handle a puppy. I’ll show him that dogs aren’t scary by setting up a few “playdates” with dogs that mind their own business and are great with puppies.

But what if this one single time was enough to “break a dog”?

And to be clear, I don’t think only about dogs from the neighbourhood. I know a lot of trainers and their dogs, most of them are very obedient (at least the dogs) but does it mean they don’t get triggered? They can definitely control themselves better than the others but still… there are things they like or dislike and the fact they can behave well surrounded by other dogs doesn’t mean they feel comfortable.

You’re worst enemy

We, the dog lovers, are more aware know. We understand the role of early socialization, we get that dogs have emotions and we try to respect animals and treat them as equals. With all that, it’s easy to get tangled in a web we weave ourselves. We’re full of expectations and ambition and are 100% sure we can create a perfect dog. Sometimes it’s not even our fault. While reading articles and talking to other people or rather seeing their pictures on social media you think it’s easy. Just work those 12 surfaces, meet 100 people and play with a bunch of dogs and voila! A perfect dog.

But with that huge “to do list” you can forget that dog’s personality also has a role to play. And I think there are some traits of the personality that you just can’t fix, even with a “perfect” socialization.

I thought about it more than I could count and more than I’m willing to say:

“What did I do wrong?”

It took me nearly 2 years to think that maybe I did nothing (or almost nothing) wrong. That maybe this growling dude is not a product of my mistakes, that he’s his own creature. I could’ve done things better – no denying there – but would a perfect month of socialization make him not interested in dogs? Would they seize to exist in his mind?

So what to expect?

That’s exactly my point – nothing! It’s impossible to do everything exactly as it’s in the book. Because reality isn’t perfect, real life is full of surprises not always as pleasant as finding a chocolate box, there are always ups and downs. So is it worth it? Does socialization makes a difference? The answer is always a YES.

Me and Hugo, Jack Russell TerrierThink about a journey. A long one. Into the woods or mountains. You can’t go unprepared.

Socialization is the part where you prepare for the journey. Later on You can meet many obstacles but you’re prepared for them, you got the equipment and necessary tools. Sometimes the road might be bumpy, there might be a huge storm ahead. Take a step back, give yourself some time, think of what you already know and try again. Don’t run away from obstacles – you can do it, the both of you can.

And remember, the journey itself is a reward.

Está loco

There are so many perfect dogs around. Pleasant, obedient, smart and cute. And the owners (trainers) tend to share mostly the stories of success: “She saw a deer but came back when called!”.

And the fails? Not so big on them. There can happen some minor bumps, true, but how many times did you hear about the same dog that actually ran after deers?

You know what? If someone is so proud that a dog didn’t run after a deer it must have happened before. There must have been some serious amount of chases and come backs (I know dogs who run off for 45 minutes or so. Not to mention the ones that don’t come back at all).

Those are the stories of shame no one likes to share.

So let me tell you my story. A story of love, lust and shame…

Preparations

That day, Hugo was a bit stubborn. He wanted to go and explore more on a morning walk but I was hungry and wanted to go for a longer one later. So we struggled a bit – he, laying down on a ground, saying: “Sorry, not sorry but I’m not going, Missy”. And me saying: “Sorry, not sorry but your going, Mister!”. Later on I thought he needed some grooming, so I stripped a bit of hair here and there, while the kind sir was chewing on a beef stick.

As I usually do, soon I felt bad about cutting the walk short so I’ve said: “Ok, let’s go”.

The date

We’ve started a very pleasant walk. There was a big group of seagulls, he didn’t chase away (well he ran after 2 or 3 which were left but most of them were chased by two seniors passing by).

It was a nice warm day, I took of my flip-flops and was walking along the sea. I’ve noticed a dog nearby so I took Hugo on leash. The dog ran towards us but as it was a girl the interaction was fine. The owners suggested to set him of leash but I knew better, said: “está loco” then “adios” and went further.

On the way back the dog was still there, so – on leash again. She came towards us and I let them sniff and run small circles (still on leash), I’ve managed to recall Hugo successfully – it looked good so I thought: “let’s give it a try” – and set him off leash.

It was more than fine, they chased a bit but after a short while Hugo came to me on his own accord! Perfect! I didn’t allow them to run more not to push the luck. They became calm, everything was all right.

Until it wasn’t.

Hugo on the run

Lady and the Tramp

Hugo have decided to hump (I’m not sure if those were emotions or the nature calling). I didn’t allow him, said: enough! and he backed away. I thought it’s time to go and wanted to grab a leash or maybe I wasn’t; maybe I wanted to check if he’ll go after me – not sure because my thoughts didn’t matter any longer. The Lady decided to run in the other direction and Hugo decided to continue the date and chased her, trying to hump.

Seriously, it takes a terrier to run in a top speed while trying to hump.

She was running away, Hugo was almost on top of her and it didn’t seem as they were planning to turn back. The owners of the other dog were busy doing something else. So I’ve ran holding my flip-flops and a leash, looking stupid.

If that wasn’t enough I’ve noticed people with a pack of 3 dogs. “The lovers” have reached them and Hugo stopped for a moment a meter away from the barking and growling dogs. Fortunately, he must have known the popular saying “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” and decided the girl is better. Fortunately, they started running in our direction.

I knew I won’t be able to catch him (I’ve tried before) so thought that maybe I can knock him out from this ugly and disgusting state of mind. So I’ve thrown the flip-flops…

Not effective. Too low, too slow or how was it? At least the angry voices of owners of 3 on-leash dogs turned into a burst of laughter.

One of the guys on the beach (the owner of the Lady) throw himself at dogs and manage to catch or slow them down and I grabbed the Tramp…

The love

You think my humiliation was over? Never enough of that…

Have you ever seen a terrier in a zone? The crazy absent look, panting  and the general “I don’t give a damn” attitude which can be mistaken for a smile (or maybe it is a smile or rather a laughter: “And once again, you’re screwed, by a Jack Russell Terrier!”). To get through this huge adrenaline shot seems almost impossible.

I know this state too well…

Hugo and Kiwi
“How you doin’?”

…so I grabbed Hugo and lifted in the air to stop it at once. I put him on the ground and was about to reprimand him. I knew the damage was done and there’s nothing I can do but I’m not gonna pat him and say we’re ok because NO, we’re not okay.

But I wasn’t able to do that because apparently, one of the dudes thought I was the loco one, he took my dog away from me and started hugging him and patting while talking to me in Spanish. I believe it was something about loving the animals.

During the talk the Lady came (now who’s the Tramp I ask?) and started her flirting again, she really couldn’t help herself (gosh! The beef and grooming did the trick), making for Hugo impossible to go out of the zone.

After a while which felt like an hour I was released from the monologue about animal welfare and was able to go away, deeply in shame. The Lady followed us, it was difficult but I got hold off Mr Tramp. After a while she figured the fun was over and went back to her owners.

I went on for a while and when I made sure she’s not coming back I sat on a sand and cried. And so I cried for hours.

Revenge is a dish best served cold 

I seriously hope that after reading this You’re not gonna send PETA after me. Truly, other than my dignity, no person or animal got harmed.

Oh no, wait! I did go with revenge.

I put some ginger (yuck!) into Hugo’s  dinner – a bowl filled with meat. Haha! Such an evil mind! But the rat bastard screwed me over again… he has eaten 3 out of 4 ginger pieces (which he’s supposed to hate).

I gave up. I lied in bed, my face to Hugo’s butt, and we’ve fallen asleep.

The next morning we went for a walk and he came and offered me a stick. So I took it.
For my own sake I’ve taken it as an apology.

A puzzle

Few weeks ago I’ve written about losing the touch with the basic obedience. We’ve made a huge progress since then. I’ve implemented (or reimplemented) a set of rules which worked. There are better and worse days but all in all, I thought we’re heading in the right direction again. We were. Untill…

Untill we had guests. The type that just can’t help themselves and have to spoil the dog. I like having them around but I’d have to be blind not to see the obvious change in my pup.

He’s been allowed more than usually, been fed behind my back and given attention when none was needed. He’s very social, too social for his own good and is incapable of saying no even if he doesn’t want to interact. And because of the constant petting, attention and hoping for some food he was on a constant alert.

In a split of a second he became more reactive and nervous on walks.

It seems incredible how I can work on something for days or even weeks and it all goes for nothing in seconds and slows down the whole process.

Those little breakdowns make me question myself, my abilities. Of course, I see the difference. When he was younger he would ignore me and run towards the most cheerful person or the loudest one. As I’m neither, I was often loosing this competition. Now it’s different, what I say matters and it’s not only based on rewards and me being more cheerful (I’m not) but mainly on our relationship based on trust and respect (at least I hope so).

The Sisyphus

Nonetheless, the process is a constant struggle. Sometimes I’m getting tired because when I think “we got it” in few weeks it’s obvious that we don’t anymore. So I gather strength and push the stone again and again while the smaller ones are falling down.

We often say that with dogs it’s like with puzzles. You’re slowly putting the pieces together. Sometimes with Hugo I feel as if I was intending to buy a 1000 pieces puzzle but ended up with a 10000.

But still… “Whaddaya gonna do about it? Life goes on”.