Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The emergence of Mr. Hyde

There's no way to sugarcoat it: The Doodlebug has gone rogue.

My goofy, doofy mess of a boy has always had some issues. He has an unnaturally high sensitivity to any number of sounds, doesn't like being hugged and, generally, tends to find the world to be a bit too big for his liking. For the most part his issues are a bit annoying, but within the confines of our day-to-day life, no biggie. Until this past weekend, when he decided to add one more to his list: snapping.

Yes, my floppy dog snapped at someone. Actually, two "someones". Both times, they were people who were in our home who he was not familiar with, and on both occasions it happened when they reached out to pet him while I wasn't looking. To say that I'm appalled is an understatement. I've known Darby to many things over his six years but I've never, ever been concerned about him hurting someone --- and definitely not someone identified as a "friend". We've had people over many times before, both singularly and in groups and although he has been tentative with folks he didn't know, he has never behaved this poorly.

I'm taking it very hard, especially as a blogger who reads about the adventures of other, seemingly perfect pups who appear to glide around society like a southern belle at a perpetual debutante ball. I know Darby will never be one of those dogs, but he can't be this dog, either.

I've spent the past couple of days turning it over in my head. Is it because something changed in his doodle brain now that I'm home all the time? Is he picking up on my frustration with a recurring medical condition I have and trying to take it out on someone else? Did he sneak into the living room after we went to bed and watch part of Cujo (obviously missing the end) and think he's a role model?

After a short period of self-flagellation, which is almost as productive as it sounds, I've decided the trigger  doesn't matter nearly as much as rewiring his funky little brain so it doesn't happen again. For now, the little dude will have his security blanket leash attached to him when anyone who isn't positively bomb-proof comes over. For Darby, the leash has thus far been the equivalent of a Thundershirt, so we'll start there and work his way back to being the dog we expect him to be.

It goes without saying that if anyone else wants to 'fess up about a less-than-wonderful issue your dog has, you'll never find a more sympathetic audience than this corner of the blogosphere...


mel said...

Ahhh, I'm going through something similar.

Our dog, Wookie - who we fostered and then decided to adopt - is showing his.. cranky side. Or protective side. Not sure which.

For months he was sweet as sugar, loved everyone and everything (except kids). And now, just recently, he has begun lunging at men. Heartbreaking is a good word for how I felt when he lunged at someone the first time. But I love him all the same, and I'm relieved that *we* were the ones who adopted him and not someone else who may not have tolerated this behaviour..

Marg said...

That is weird that all of a sudden Darby would do that. To lean a little towards Daby's side, you really don't know how they reached for Darby to pat him. It could have been in a threatening way that he didn't understand. Have you ever taken Darby to a dog school??? Not that he needs it, it is just a lot of fun and so helpful in socializing the dog. Just a thought. Take care.

Vicky said...

Mel, it sounds a bit like now that Wookie has settled in, he's settling in, so to speak. I, too, am happy that we got Darby as I am all but convinced that he would not be alive without us, seeing as how he got parvo three days after we brought him home. I think almost anyone else would have taken him back to the shelter. We're more than willing to work with him, especially since when it's just family, he's a great-ish dog.

Vicky said...

Marg, I agree that it is odd, especially since we've never had an issue like this regarding him and guests before.

In his defense, in both cases people were reaching for the top of his head, which can be tricky with shy pups like Darby, but won't be considered a proper excuse if he did any damage. He did not go to puppy school. I've contemplated taking him to class, but when we are out walking, at the pet store, etc. he has almost zero interest in other dogs or people and I'm concerned he will find it more traumatic than helpful, being the goofus he is. We'll see how it goes with his retraining and see if he can handle taking it to the next level.

meowmeowmans said...

Poor Darby! And poor you! What a mystery ... I wonder why he would ct like this all of a sudden? Has anything changed recently? Do you know if the people leaned over Darby?

Hope you can figure it out. I certainly know you will try your darndest! :)

Unknown said...

Hi Y'all,

In my "pat the dog" series recently I mentioned how we find certain actions threatening. We don't like "our space" invaded by strangers, yet they persist. Darby is tiny compared to me, so someone leaning over and reaching for the top of my head would cause a defensive response. Also, sudden movements or a movement that surprises can cause us to feel threatened.

Remember, we accept certain threatening or very close proximity movements from our own Humans that we find unacceptable from a stranger, even a guest in your home.

We do pick up on our human's feelings toward guests in the home. If you aren't fully comfortable, we won't be either.

Our job is to take care of you.

Hawk aka BrownDog

FiveSibesMom said...

Hope it all works out well...he may be feeling more possessive of you as a result of having you home and also picking up on any anxiety due to your medical issue (which I hope is OK). Our one Sibe picks up on my daughter's vibe and her mood will alter depending on the energy in the house. I hope all works out for you! He may just be adjusting to having Momma home all to himself.

FiveSibesMom said...

PS - by the way, the photo of "Mr. Hyde" is just beautiful! That sweet face, it's hard to believe he can be a Mr. Hyde. But they sure can! But what a sweetie!!!

Vicky said...

I read your series, Hawk, and agree wholeheartedly. I actually told the folks here on Sunday about the Saturday issue and still ended up in the penalty box over someone reaching for him.

And yes, FiveSibes, I think part of it is due to having both "parents" home (as my husband works from home) and partly because he has that floppy look that makes him appear all cuddly, so people automatically assume he's a friendly little dude instead of a potential threat.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your thoughts and support.

Pamela said...

Congratulations on passing through the self-flagellation stage and getting right into finding a solution. I hope the leash helps.

It's not as easy to do, but leashing your guests might not be a bad idea. :)


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