Sunday, February 3, 2008

Gutenberg part 2


As I had originally suspected, She cleaned up nicely. She was a truly beautiful dog. While still a little thin, Nick was on top of that issue. That very first night, Nick herded her downstairs to sleep with him. Within a few hours, Nick came back upstairs with a face that was white as a sheet. When I asked what was wrong, he told me that 'Gute had an "accident" in his room.' I chuckled and told him that she was his dog, so it was his job to handle the situation. Nick shook his head and said that picking up poop was no problem. He was horrified because he had never seen poop made of sticks, and rocks, and undigested bugs. Nick was so overwhelmed with sadness, he couldn't discipline her for her error. Thankfully, once she began eating healthier, more digestible foods, it wasn't a problem.

As I watched Nick and Gutenberg together, I began to notice that she was bringing out a side of Nick that I hadn't seen for a while. Even though Honey Bear had been part of our family for almost a year, Honey Bear was my baby. Every one referred to her as "mom's dog." But Gute, was obviously Nick's dog. With Gutenberg by his side, Nick took on a new confidence and compassion. For the first time Nick had someone besides himself to worry about. Still, Nick was Nick, and Gutenberg loved his wild and adventurous spirit, so she was willing to go anywhere, and try anything with him. I was amazed by her beauty and intelligence, but I wasn't ready to be friends with her yet. She had alot of strange behaviors, like growling to communicate. Nick showed no fear and ignored her, saying that she was just "talking." In less than a week, I had counted no less than three major phobias (which I'll get into later) and her responses to these fears were at best, unpredictable.

As Monday morning rolled around, I asked Nick what he planned on doing with his dog while he was at school ? He said, "she's going to hang out here at home, and watch over you and the kids." The thought of this wild animal "watching over" me and my babies (Jake was 5 and Heather was 3) was not at all comforting to me. I was used to dealing with Golden retrievers, not Ferrel German Shepherds! In addition, it was obvious that Gute was merely tolerating Honey Bear. As a three legged dog, Honey Bear was usually treated with contempt by other dogs, and her lack of early socialization made it hard for her to fit in. I didn't want to break up any dog fights alone. I was really hoping that he would set up a daytime den for her in the barn, but before I could suggest it, he was out the door, and on the bus.

I clearly remember standing at the door, looking down at these three dogs thinking: what the hell am I going to do now? I turned and walked into the kitchen, stopped, and turned around again. There they were, right behind me, looking up at me, waiting for me to do something. I suddenly had no idea what to do, but I knew that staring at them blankly, probably wasn't a good idea. Finally, I said, "Okay ladies, go lay down." Honey Bear and Minnie went to their usual spots at the kitchen doorway. Gutenberg stood there looking at me. I didn't know if she was going to bark, growl, or lunge for my throat. So I did what always works for me. I started talking to her like a two year old in my best high pitched mommy voice, and I offered her food.
"Aw, does Guten -toot want some hot dogs ? As I babbled, I could see her eyes soften and her head start to tilt to the side as she listened. When I finally felt safe enough to turn my back on her, I went to the fridge and got a hot dog. I tore off a piece and fed it to her. She cautiously, and gently gobbled it down and wagged her tail. After three or four hot dogs, she was my best friend ! Poor baby just wanted a mommy to love her !!!

From then on, I realised that dealing with large groups of dogs is alot like running a preschool with 10 or 12 toddlers. I had done that lots of times before. A lot of people are freaked out by the idea of corralling that many little people, but the key is never show any fear, and expect them to follow along, and they usually do.

Okay, there's lots more to tell, but it's late, and I have to get up early to visit Nick. Sleep well everyone, and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Love ya,
Susan

1 howled back:

Mel said...

hahah, I love you, this made me smile. I would never have taken that approach (mine would have been to hide in a cupboard) but it makes sense.

Will be looking out for part 3.

love mel