Thursday, February 17, 2011

Face hugs & the head mare

Yesterday I took Stella with me to pick up our friend Walter. We went from his house to get some coffee and then on to the downtown library. Stella couldn't go in these places and Walter is somewhat disabled so I left them both in the car a couple of times and Walter (when he wasn't spilling coffee in my floorboard) noted that when I went into a place Stella never took her eyes off the door until I came back through it. I asked him if she cried or whined. He said "No, she just stands with her front feet on the console and looks through the windshield."

Normally, if we don't have any passengers, when I return to the car, she and I have what I call a face hug. I reach under her chin and pull her her head to mine from the outside. Her left cheek pressed against my right one (with her still standing on the console) the two of us thank our lucky stars that I made it back and that she was there when I did. As soon as I let go, I tell her to back up and she returns to the back seat planting herself next to a window. On rare occasions we manage to charm some nice person who happens to witness this little ritual from a nearby car proving yet again that warm fuzzy dog love is in fact, contagious.

Dog park update: I mentioned at the end of January that Stella had a bad day at the dog park, a bad day in that she was a bully to the other dogs for the first time since her puppyhood. We returned a day later and she did great. This past Tuesday we tried again and Stella ran all the big dogs and their owners out of the park with her loud vicious growling and bullying behavior. There was no biting but it was so pushy and mean, you wouldn't know she was trying to play; even the dogs were intimidated. Once the big dogs were gone and she was left with the little ones, she was happy as a clam. My friend Christine calls it wanting to be the "head mare" but according to the literature, one doesn't get to be the head mare via tyranny in fact, quite the opposite, so darling Stella has a ways to go. I tried taking her back yesterday (different park) and the same thing happened only this time the owners were a little more forgiving. I disciplined her by putting her on the leash and making her sit but I'm not sure she got the message until I actually caught her by the scruff of the neck once as she was tearing by me. She promptly fell down on her back and showed me the goods. I probably wouldn't have chosen the alpha roll myself but she was so busy being a menace and since she did it herself, I decided it was better than nothing. I definitely had her attention. So we had a quiet little chat right there in the dirt. All the other dogs (the ones she'd been roughing up) came by and smelled her up as well and once I let her up and brushed her off, she was a more polite version of herself. As of today, we're ramping up our exercise program and looking for big brave dogs to hang out with who will not put up with her nonsense. If anyone has any other suggestions or stories about your own dominant/ trouble-making/ bully dog I'd love to hear them. I'm not sure I'd use the word aggressive yet but she's definitely running the offense (despite the innocent pinup girl pose shown above).

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