Traveling Dog Lady: i love my dog

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

i love my dog

I love both of my dogs, but this essay is about Hobie.

I have discovered that poor Hobie is "unstable" as Cesar would define the dog. An unstable dog is not calm and balanced. An unbalanced dog is nervous, frightened, hyper and at times aggressive.

Hobie has a horrendous fear of fireworks and thunderstorms. Last Saturday night, the neighbors around the lake were at it again, lighting off dramatic homemade fireworks displays, complete with whirring, whistling colorful things that flew over our house and exploded into the night air. These are punctuated by "cherry-bomb" or M-80 firecrackers, the likes of which shake the entire house even though the person who exploded it was clear across the other side of the lake. The poor Canada geese squawk and fly away in terror, in the middle of the night, the poor things, and Hobie would like to join them if he could.

When the first "boom!" hit Saturday night, Hector stood up, looked out the screen door "on alert", decided everything was fine, and laid down and went to sleep for the rest of the night. Different story with Hobie. He proceeded to claw at us, and pant so hard that I thought he would have a heart attack. He could not find a proper place to hide, trying to crawl under the desk, then deciding that wasn't good enough, and trying to get me to go into the basement. Now, this last part is my fault. When he was a puppy, long before we had Hector, the two of us would go into the "bomb shelter" (the laundry room) and I'd sit and read a book in a lawn chair while he chilled out. I'd play music on a radio or something, and run the washing machine so he couldn't hear the fireworks. So, I have obviously "trained" poor Hobester to seek shelter in the laundry room. Only now, 7 years later, the laundry room is gross and dirty and wet and moldy. Someone accidentally threw away the lawn chairs, so there's nowhere to sit except if I'm lucky enough to be backlogged on laundry, in which case I can make a pile and sit on it. I decided to do just that on Saturday night. Hector laid down beside me and snoozed. Hobie paced and panted and hid behind the drying rack. It was hours later that he was finally calm enough to go to sleep, long after the neighbors had put away their toys for the evening.

During all of this, a surprising thing happened. I've been following the advice of Cesar Millan, who says never give your dog affection when it is upset. So, when Hobie is doing all of his neurotic behavior, I try to make him calm down by being a leader to him and not giving him affection. This means no patting or saying, "Awwww, honeeeeey, it's OK." stuff like that. Whereas I used to do nothing BUT affection, I have flip-flopped and rarely give my dog affection anymore, under any circumstances, until he's had his exercise and discipline. Most of the time is spent on discipline!

That night, Gil took Hobie, practically in his arms, and patted him and loved him and told him everything would be OK. Gil's not a fanatic follower of Cesar like I am, but he does like the guy and enjoys watching the show and read the book bla bla bla. What Gil did actually calmed Hobie down.

I was both amazed and sad all at the same time. For the first 6 years of his life, I kept Hobie from things, I didn't socialize him, I never allowed him any freedom from having a leash attached to his body. He became a frustrated dog. But the last year and a half, since I discovered "Dog Whisperer" I have once again kept Hobie from enjoying life, but in a different way. I have been his leader, and haven't shown him as much love as I probably should. This is by no means a reflection on Cesar Millan. I am still his biggest fan and supporter. It is my fault. As Cesar always says, the problem with dogs is always something the human is doing. The dog is just being a dog. How right he is. Once again, I have made mistakes.

So, I'm trying to get a good balance with Hobie now. I'm trying to be conscious of the fact that this dog, this wonderful dog with whom I fell in love at first sight, will not be with me forever. He is a great dog, and he deserves a balance of leadership and love, not a lifetime of saying "NO!" to him constantly. I feel like that's all I do these days, "No, Hobie. No. NO. NO!"

I'm going to try to be a better pet parent to my dog. To both of my dogs.

1 comment:

  1. How very sad I felt for you and Hobie after reading this. Give Hobie a hug for me and 10 for yourself.


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