The Beast Turns One/Pack Dynamics Part 2

Tomorrow is Phinny’s birthday. Well it may not be exactly it, but I figured December 12th would be an easy one to remember and its in the general ballpark within a week or two. Lotar–Shit Puppy–Phineas Fungus Littletard. Nugget. Doug. Spaz. These are all his names, from not only me but his ex-owners, fosters, fan base.

I can’t believe I’ve had him almost a year. And then again, he feels like he’s always been here. I have moments with Forest where I like/love him so much it hurts, then not that much later he and I are looking at each other like we don’t know each other and haven’t gone through the years of co-existing and learning together. I haven’t ever had that with Phin, though it may happen eventually. He is always right here, waiting for the next project I have for us to do together, for better or worse.

That’s not to say he isnt annoying or aggravating on a daily basis. His minor effects are that he steps in poo frequently, destroys every toy within a five mile radius, slams Forest into doorways and walls, knocks over the occasional lamp or eats a stray remote. His less minor effects include resource guarding, reactivity to strangers, and separation anxiety. But, goddammit, he is one hard working, intelligent dog.

He continues to amaze me with what he learns–how swiftly he picks things up and how I can cut corners (again for better or worse) because he reads what I want and where I am going before I do half the time.That may be the biggest trap with him–the temptation to rush because he is so game to do anything I throw at him. A lesson in self control for me I guess.

His intensity can be overwhelming for me at times—he plays tug so hard he may pull my arm out of the socket one of these days, and he is on alert at all times. Its hard to shut him off. He alarm barks a lot at home, and I still have a lot more work to do with his reactivity issues.

But under his non-stop bull in the china shop persona, he has a pure sweetness. We were heading into the lobby at work the other day, and a mom and son, about 5 maybe came out the door right on top of us. I startled a bit, just because I am always on guard with him around anyone new, especially when the environment suddenly changes. The little boy landed almost on top of him, said “Oh, hi doggie!”, and threw his arms around Phin’s neck. I was worried Phin may knock him over or at least aggressively lick his face (gentle is not in this dog’s vocab), but instead, he threw his head up and stood stock still, nose to nose with the kid, wagging his tail, clearly reveling in the moment. It was so sweet, and yet terrifying at the same time.

I know expectations are not a good thing. Setting up for disappointment and all that. But I can’t help it. I have high expectations for this dog. I dont know where exactly we are going, but I know it will be good. Very good.

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2 thoughts on “The Beast Turns One/Pack Dynamics Part 2

  1. I had a Dobe who was reactive but luckily that term wasn’t in use back then so I didn’t have to deal with a label. He was fine with people who were fine with him, not afraid of him. Vets who liked him could do absolutely anything to him, those who were afraid of him got growled at. Simon was terrified of children and most other dogs. However, I just trained him well, and managed him carefully and trialed him for years in USDAA, AKC and NADAC (back when it was still a main stream organization). He was a great dog who unfortunately died too young.
    So don’t let that “reactive” label limit your expectations. There are lots and lots of BCs out there that are “reactive” but because they’re BCs non one labels them that way. They call them “grumpy” or “grouchy” instead. Maybe you could say that Phineas is “sensitive to his environment” 🙂

    • Thanks Julie, I really appreciate your comment. Its easy to get caught up in the moment when he is having an issue, and I know I get super-defensive about other people’s “labels” for him and/or his behavior. His behavior is not as debilitating as I do see with some dogs, as you say, he is just really sensitive. You also nailed who he is comfortable with–he also is almost always fine with people who are dog savvy and let him approach at his own pace. If there is any sort of awkwardness, it puts him on the defensive.

      Again, thanks for your kind words, I really appreciate the support and understanding! And, it encourages me that you enjoyed much success with your Dobie! 🙂

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