Friday, January 15, 2010

getting brave

i don't know why but after days of not seeing other dogs when i take wombat for a mid-morning walk before it gets hot we ran into a few this morning. i hate running into other dogs mostly because it's embarrassing for us. she looks so tough and she's muzzled so people probably assume she's a horrible dog and why would anyone want a dog like that? her first reaction to other dogs is fear. she tries to run away (which is a bit hard when she's attached to a lead but she tries and it makes us look stupid as we stumble a step or 2 while we yank her back to our side). we've found that she's ok if we just sit her as another dog passes (on the other side of the road-- she gets very nervous if they come less than a couple metres or so away). she'll whimper and watch them pass and then when she's sure they aren't gonna turn around and come back to get her, she'll get up and walk off happily with us (although she often picks up her already fast pace to try to get away from them as fast as possible). i had an incident a couple weeks ago where i came to an intersection and saw a small dog coming at us in the direction we were going to turn. i decided to try to cross wombat over the street before it got to close but wombat was panicked and i got to the middle of the road and she froze (25 kg of muscle is hard to pull if she doesn't want to come). i just sat her in the middle of the road and talked softly to her (people probably think this is ridiculous when they here us softly saying "you're ok, he won't hurt you" to a dog 4 times as big as the one coming at her). she was fine until the dog was passed and my leg blocked her view of it. then she went crazy. this involves her growling, barking, jumping, twisting (and we're usually holding her collar as well as her lead at this point so she looks absolutely horribly aggressive). as soon as she saw the dog was definitely gone, she went back to her normal (but extra pully) self. i'm sure the woman with the small dog was thinking to herself "why would anyone have a dog like that that needs to be muzzled and is so aggressive?"
this morning i was so proud of her when we came across our third and forth dogs (2 poodles) at an oval. the dogs had already barked and chased another dog on the road before coming onto the oval and since i'd seen and heard them coming i had started to get wombat off so we could leave when they were fully on the oval. i got wombat up to the covered viewing area/toilets and she watched one of the poodles chasing a ball on the oval and was fine. the other poodle spotted us and came to say hello. the woman started calling "oscar" but he ignored her. i just held wombat's collar while she sat and watched him. he came less than 2 metres from wombat and started barking. she just sat while i held her, rubbed her chest and talked softly to her. i was sooo impressed with her. the woman was walking over to get oscar and wombat was great the whole time. i actually got explain to her that wombat was terrified of other dogs and aggression was her last resort (hence the muzzle). if she'd been able to grab oscar at that point i think it would have ended up being a really positive experience for wombat but before she grabbed him he decided to go around the back of wombat and me while the other poodle stood in front. wombat lost it then and just started trying to spin and bark. the woman managed to scoop up her dogs and said "we'll be going home now" and walked off across the street to her house. poor wombat took a few minutes to calm down and be able to somewhat heel (she never properly heels but it took a while to get her to the point where she wasn't ripping my arm off trying to hold her next to me).
i think that's the longest she's ever stayed calm with an unrerstrained barking dog that close to her. maybe there is a bit of hope for her yet cuz she's a really good dog, it's just her one flaw makes us look stupid for caring for her and it makes her look like a horrible beast that will attack anything (which is NOT her at all).
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