Count Your Blessings

…if you have a dog that you can walk any time of the day, anywhere, and your walks are actually pleasant.

…if you have a dog that calmly exists around other dogs without going absolutely berserk if one looks at him funny.

…if you don’t have to do U-turns when you’re out walking your dog because another dog is coming toward you.

…if you don’t give a sigh of relief when you pull into an empty daycare parking lot.

Which is what I did when I pulled into daycare today–gave a sigh of relief because the lot was empty.  I was going to get Pongo into daycare and off to my early morning meeting stress-free. But, we all know things don’t necessarily go the way we expect them to.  As I was unloading Pongo, I realized someone had pulled in to our right.  The driver and I made eye contact and gave me a little nod, which I read as: go ahead and finish unloading your dog; I’ll wait.  I unloaded Pongo, walked up to the door and all of sudden Pongo was going nuts.  I thought he had noticed the dog getting out of the car that had pulled in.  I think I’m pretty good at reading non-verbals but I guess I was way off today because when I turned around, the dog and owner were less than 2 feet from us waiting for us to go in the door.  There was NO way Pongo was going to make it in the door calmly so I walked down the sidewalk, telling the owner and dog to go ahead.  While Pongo continued to flip-out, a car pulls into the parking lot with two big dogs barking at him through open windows.  That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  There was no reeling Pongo in; no getting his attention in attempts to calm him down.  So I awkwardly scooped Pongo up, got him into his kennel, and told him, as I backed out of daycare and drove to work, he could spend the next couple of hours in the car thinking about his poor behavior.

Living with a reactive dog is frustrating and exhausting at times.  What is most frustrating is not knowing what’s going to set him off and then not being prepared for the reaction you get.  It is very apparent Pongo chooses when to be leash reactive and when not to.  If he’s working (i.e. Nose Work) or has other distractions, he is 95% OK with being on a leash around other dogs given he has enough distance between him and the other dog.  If we are just walking or he sees another dog out the window, he immediately amps up and is out of control.  It’s embarrassing and I’m more than sure pretty scary for others to watch. He spins, he lunges, he growls, he barks all out of pure frustration.  But, less than 20 seconds after he’s had his blow-out, he’s fine.  I, on the other hand, have to deal with the residual feelings of my own frustration and anger.  The self-doubting and ruminating of what I could have done differently, and the constant questioning of WHY?  WHY such a sweet, tail-wagging, kiss giving little guy can be hell on wheels when he’s around other dogs?

Just an FYI: Pongo did make it to daycare today and had a good day.  I do believe he was somewhat remorseful about this morning’s outburst…or at least it makes me feel better thinking he felt just a little bit guilty.

Hard To Believe…They’ve Seen Worse!

To our horror, Pongo has found a new use for the basket muzzle he wears during recess at doggie daycare: a poop grater.  Yes, he is now smashing the front of his muzzle down into his doggie friend’s poop, or maybe even his own, and coming up with a poop smeared muzzle.  Maybe he’s found a new way to entertain himself but personally, I think it’s an act of rebellion: he’s going to make sure others pay for him having to wear this embarrassing contraption.

Poor Miss Janelle, his teacher today, ended up with poop streaked pants from Pongo’s antics.  And while I screeched “GROSS!” when the staff told me of his repulsive adventure today, they just laughed and replied…”We’ve seen worse.”

Here’s Pongo after a day of keeping his daycare teachers on their toes.  If he’s this worn out, I can’t even imagine how they’re feeling!

Teenage Tyrant

December 23rd, to the day, Pongo turned his listening ears off and transformed into a I’m-going-to-do-the-opposite-of-everything-you-say 18 month old tyrant.  He has been testing, testing, testing.  I think he has spent more time in time-out the past couple of days than he has since he was a young pup.  We’ve been warned about the terror of raising a teenage Cattle Dog: it’s a battle of the wills.  Don’t worry though…we WILL win.

Along with dealing with our oppositional and rebellious Cattle Dog, we are also trying to stay one step ahead of him in deterring his rock eating and keeping him safe.  We’ve resorted to a basket muzzle now, during outdoor recess, at doggie daycare.  He’s only worn it one day but so far so good.

Bless the Dog Tired Doggie Daycare staff–they had to put up with Pongo’a teenage antics, plus manage the basket muzzle on Friday.

Rock Band of Shame

Poor Pongo.  He just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to being humiliated.  First, it was the Cone and Collar of Shame. Then, it was the Donut of Shame.  Now, he’s sporting the Rock Band of Shame.  Since Pongo has developed a taste for rocks, doggie daycare is helping out by having Pongo wear the Rock Band of Shame while outside at recess. I’m hoping just the embarrassment of having to wear the band around his doggie friends will be enough to deter him from eating rocks again.  I highly doubt it though!