Pack Personality Disorder and Order — Diego, Part 1

I have read a few different blogs over the past year or so mentioning how few people can—or maybe moreso choose to—describe the actual personalities of their dogs. Its sort of a daunting task. Its easy to talk about training goals and failures, or the naughty thing your dog does that makes you crazy, but its a much trickier act to describe the unique personalities of animals who dont speak our language. Its tempting to call them loyal, or loving, or playful–and maybe they are some or all of those things–but aren’t most dogs? The more dogs I meet via training and work–and that’s a hell of a lotta dogs at this point already–the more I realize how interesting and chock full of personality they all are. I tend to fall in love with the bullish ones that are smart to a fault, usually the ones that cause the most trouble. Hmmm, maybe because that describes the majority of my household?

I have been thinking a lot about my three lately and how different they all are. (And there’s another blog post topic in there as well for the future; how totally different dogs int he same household often seem to have similar/same issues. But that’s for another day.) Here is my half-hearted quick attempt at analyzing my pack of three. Part One.

Diego. Number One. Used to be of solo status. Formerly known as “Mr. Brown” by the psychotic rescue lady we pilfered him from. The Chihuahua mix of questionable origins and rough starts. Surely a street dog, Diego wears his heart on his sleeve. He has come a long way in the four years we’ve had him. Day one he was so terrified he pooped himself and ran away from us, screaming at the presence of any medium to large do that came too close; last night he was contentedly tottering off leash around all sorts of unfamiliar people and big dogs outside agility class, hunting for treats.

He comes off as a “submissive” dog, but really I have learned he uses his weenie-ness to get his way and control his universe. Dont want to go into your crate as we are leaving? Roll over on your back and act as if we are threatening 40 lashes to get some sympathy and delay the inevitable. Really, really want that chicken I am cooking? Dance around at the edge of the kitchen and flash that submissive grin–aka “vampire face”. Think the other whippersnappers are getting too wild roaring around the backyard? Jump in and Fun Police those MoFos back into place. He may act like the biggest wussie of them all yet he manages to run the show. It’s not a calculated strategy, it just works for him.

Also, rock his world and pay the consequences. When things are out of order he follows me around whining for reasons I often dont understand. When he’s really feeling insecure he will make himself feel better by marking something that is Dry Clean Only.

He has an inner clock that runs on Pacific Standard Time, more accurate than my iPhone. If its 3min past 6pm and I am not heading towards the kitchen I get the hairy eyeball and usually some sort of aggravated “Get Me My Dinner Woman!!!” song and tapdance.

We call him the Good Dog as he is usually the best at flying under the radar, his actual “Good Dog” abilities aside. I feel bad for not giving him more individual attention sometimes, but at the same time, I do think he really enjoys just being the Team Manager. He loves being in his special First Class crate in the car while the riff raff jostle around in Coach in the back. He loves agility trials if for no other reason than to get some time in the sun and roll in smelly worms while everyone else has “work” to do.

His off-leash reliability is a dream and has 99% to do with his personality and only 1% to do with me and my training abilities. He came built in wanting face time with his people and a food drive that matches a grizzly bear. I have NEVER, ever, seen him turn down food (okay, he hates raw chicken, go figure). Which means I should be doing a hell of a lot more training with him than I do. I thank my Number One for his patience and for being my first dog as an “adult”. He has put up with a lot from us—moves, stress, travel, additions of more animals, foster and permanent—and yet is always there at the end of the day giving us his little tapdances, just happy to see us.

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