I have never been a big fan of little dogs. I find they can be awfully yappy and it is not the first time I’ve had one go for the ankles (not that that has ever stopped me wanting cuddles). Let me paint you a wee picture.
My neighbour next door does not seem too keen on us, she has a permanent scowl on her face but she does give a smile if you say hello. I try to be as friendly as possible to all the neighbours, I think it is polite. Anyway, my first meeting with this neighbour consisted of her giving Echo a fuss over the fence, which appealed to his ego. The second time I interacted with her was awful. I had just been to the park with Echo (this is before Zeph arrived), and he was in the back of the car. I had parked in the drive and as I had always done, I opened the front door and then went to let Echo out of the car. I hadn’t noticed at this point that my neighbour was leaving her garden. Echo did. As soon as I opened the boot of the car he dashed out the car, out into the street, and down the road to greet the neighbour. Well, she screamed. She screamed bloody murder. I was mortified. I was calling Echo, whistling him etc. Do you think that little b***er would come back!? He thought this was a great game. Her screaming, wanting to play obviously, and her arms flailing everywhere, making it more fun, and with me shouting at him, it was clearly a big signal to be an idiot.
Before I go further I would like to say, I completely understand her reaction (to a degree). She didn’t see him coming, she was minding her own business and all of a sudden a hyper, energetic, springy, slavering black dog just suddening appears and starts to jump up at her. However, given that she had fussed him before I thought she might have perhaps been a bit calmer in her reaction, but then again, I know my dog wouldn’t hurt her (he is just energetic and doesn’t stop moving) I guess if you don’t know that, a dog jumping at you all of a sudden is pretty scary.
So Echo finally comes back to the garden with a grin on his face (by this time I have said the phrase ‘I am so sorry’ about a million times). He has caused such a scene it was unbelievable, a crowd at the bus stop, a fellow dog walker and various parents/children going to school. It took Echo a grand total of two minutes to realise that I was so close to losing my temper. He was quickly marched into the house by his scruff once I got a hold of him and he went to straight to his bed to sulk.
Now it was completely my fault. I accept that. I should have paid more attention to my surroundings and I should have locked the gates on the drive before letting him out of the car. I very nearly lost a dog because I wasn’t paying attention. The road outside is not a main road but it is a bus route. What if he had been run over? What if he had knocked a child down? Jumped at a complete stranger? What if my neighbour reported this? (she’d be within her rights to). Once I had calmed down I sat and cuddled into Echo for ages before I went to work. I even had a wee cry because I was so upset. How do you explain to a dog that running off like that is dangerous for so many reasons. You can’t. And I can tell you I felt horrendous. All the ‘What ifs’ ran through my head for the rest of the day at work. I felt sick.
The first thing I did when I went home was take a handwritten apology card and some chocolate to my neighbours door and I apologised in person and made sure she was ok. She took it really well and said she had gotten a fright. She wasn’t expecting to see him. She actually smiled and said “Can I ask what’s wrong with him that he is so mad?”. I just laughed. I had no answer to that one at all. I promised her it would never happen again and we left it at that on good terms.
Lesson learned: Always be three steps ahead of the dog and never expect him to always react the same way twice. I now always have Echo on a lead in the front garden, especially now I have discovered a few gaps in the hedges!
Well you can imagine her “joy” when she saw we had a new puppy (bare in mind the incident just described happened months ago). As a rule, I don’t allow my dogs to bark incessantly, there is nothing I hate more than a dog who constantly barks; and as of that fiasco with Echo, I have never allowed either dog to cause trouble. I have been very careful. Occasionally my boys let out a bark of joy when they are playing with each other but it is not constant and I remind them to stop if they get out of hand.
It is not the first time, my dear neighbour has been seen scowling out of her window watching the dogs, even if they have been silent (which is most of the time). I caught her watching me out at 5.30 in the morning with the pup because he was desperate for a pee. How she knew I was out, I have no idea. When I looked at her watching me she quickly closed the curtains again. I have no idea, what else I may have done to offend her but clearly I have.
Anyway, back to this yappy dog. The house on the other side of my lovely neighbour has a little fluffy dog, I have no idea what breed as I can’t see it over the multitude of fences between us. It was a sunny day, I was out hanging out washing and my dogs were snoozing in the sunshine in the garden. My neighbour was out and failed to acknowledge me and went to talk to the neighbour with the yappy dog. Now this dog barked more in 10 minutes than either of my two dogs have done in their lives. It was constant and piercing. In response to yappy dog, both Echo and Zephyr gave a loud bark each and stopped. I was given dirty looks from over the fence. I feel that stereotyping of dogs is taken a bit too far if that’s what’s going on. My two dogs are so cuddly and friendly (a trait which gets Echo in trouble, he doesn’t realise that not everybody wants a cuddle) and in Zephyrs case, lazy.
Here is a picture of my big, scary and clearly fiercely aggressive dogs guarding their ‘mum’ while I hang out the washing:
They stayed like that for the 5 minutes it took me to finish up and then they came inside when they were told to. Clearly very badly behaved and out of control dogs. It is amazing how one mistake can be carried forward (one which I still feel guilty about!).
I love my dogs and yes they can misbehave at the worst possible moments but they are not viscious, they are not evil, they are cheeky and playful and like children that have the same traits, it gets them in trouble sometimes. I couldn’t imagine a life without all the dogs. It would be dull and boring, and I think it would be harder to smile on those tough days if I didn’t have them being silly or giving me a cuddle. I don’t understand people who ‘aren’t dog people’. It’s like saying ‘I don’t want to have a loyal companion who can make me smile when I’m upset’. The world would be a better place if we all could all live and accept dogs as part of our daily lives.
I have made a vow to myself to never let my dogs upset another person, and I work hard at training them etc to make sure they can be the best dogs they can be (although if anyone was to come between me and my dogs!). But sometimes, peoples reactions make it harder to calm a dog down. For instance, Flailing and screaming at a dog that wants to play is like waving a toy in its face. Being loud and aggressive to a dog that is in a state of aggression is asking it to fight. Perhaps we all need a lesson in body language, not just for communicating with our animals but perhaps with each other too. Communication is the only way to resolve any problems.
And if in doubt, time for a cuppa 🙂