He is third in a line of rescue dogs. We did once have a beautiful, pure bred black lab. Sammie never got the lab memo; she hated other dogs, couldn’t swim to save her life and was about as bright as a fork. She was beautiful, though, bred for show-quality conformation. I think dogs may be a bit like people; if someone breeds for looks, intelligence can get a bit diluted in the process.
That’s why I now choose rescue dogs. They are generally smarter, with less strange inbreeding problems, and really seem to appreciate the couch and the sun more than the average pedigreed pooch. Otis, less than two years old, joins sister Lily, adopted as a twelve week old pup. I call Lily my sweet, darling angel girl, because she is everything but. Of course her behavioral issues can be traced back directly to us, and frankly she is a spoiled bitch with a severe jumping problem, but I love her. Hubs and I admit that with our kids and our pets, we were just not the disciplinarians we should have been, but hey, they turned out great despite our leniency, and isn’t that the goal? Then came Otis. Oh, Otis.
Otis, like many suitors, hid his baggage from us in the initial stages of falling in love. He appeared sweet, mellow, loving and just happy to have found a forever family. This honeymoon period went on for a few days, but then… the doorbell rang. Otis began barking to warn us of the upcoming end of the world. His teeth were bared, hackles up, as he bravely and repeatedly hurled himself against the door to protect us. I also learned something new in this moment. I used to think dogs had only one set of hackles, around the top of their necks. Seems Otis was blessed with two sets. He also has prickly hackle hair that stands up at the end of his spine by his tail. Is double hackled like double jointed, in that only a few are genetically blessed? I don’t know…
Although Otis loves most strangers outside of the house, he hates anyone at the door, or in our yard, and men, when they come inside. He gives everything he’s got trying to scare male visitors away. This is after the ten day live-in training he received before adoption. So we called in a dog trainer, and have been diligently and expensively working with her. Otis now has a raised bed that, if everything ever goes according to plan, he will jump on and stay quietly when the doorbell rings and someone is invited in. We will be working on only two commands until he masters them, “no” and “good.” Visitors are briefed before approaching our secured location, and those courageous enough to enter are given a run-down regarding entrance behavior (ignore dogs) and given treats to give Otis when/if he settles down and meets them properly. It seems easy enough… someday it might even work.
In the meantime, we do take him to a wonderful dog park for more canine and human socialization. I admit to watching hawkishly. The park is like a grade school playground. You hope your kid/pup makes friends, understands the basic rules of socialization and doesn’t beat anybody up. So far, so good.
We are industriously working on taking Otis down from menace to just plain nuisance. In the meantime, I am not a social butterfly by any stretch of the definition, so if we are never able to have anyone over to our house ever again, so be it. And son T did point out an advantage to the situation: “At least you’ll never get robbed!”