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Monday, June 11, 2012

Calm Dog/Crazy Dog

Pepper has been with us a week now. He's been a great dog, calm, easy-going, walking well on a lead, and learning commands pretty well. Last night I'd wondered if we'd made a mistake.

Here's the background. Pepper's a Brittany, a bird dog, used for flushing upland game - grouse, quail, pheasant. We don't have a lot of game birds on our place, some quail, one blue grouse I've seen. But, Pepper keeps his nose to the ground, working the trails whenever we go for a walk. So far, so good.

For the past few years, we've been feeding a female raccoon and, when she has them, her kits. We've never had any altercations between her and our cats, and she cleans up our leftovers - she particularly likes stale bread and chicken bones. Last night, Pepper was in the living room watching Mad Men with us (I think he likes Joan - same hair color), when he rushed the living room window barking his head off and banging the window with his front paws. He'd seen the raccoon for the first time, and was just out of control. I was concerned that he'd crash through the window (literally) or that his head would explode (figuratively). I grabbed his collar, tugging and giving him the "break" command. He hasn't gotten that one yet. The raccoon, just raised up on her hind legs at the base of a willow tree, looked at Pepper, and ambled back toward the creek.

After I got Pepper away from the window, he was just trembling, his heart pounding like a Gene Krupa drum solo. He lay down and eventually relaxed, but as happens to all of us, nature called and I let him out into the back yard. The next time I was with him, he was sniffing along the driveway outside the yard. He'd dug through the large, brick flower box and past to 18" spiked rebars I'd driven in to keep Pepper from digging out. Clearly, he's better at thinking like a dog than I am. The good news is that he responded immediately to the "Come" command and came back in through the front door. Before going to bed, I let him into the back yard again, but kept the door open so he'd see me and come back in as soon as I told him to come.

This morning, before Pepper got up, I filled the hole he'd dug out of the window box with large, heavy, smooth river rocks that he won't be able to move, can't get a grip on with his claws, and won't hurt his paws trying.

 We had a good walk this morning. I started training him to walk at heel on a lead (he did really well), avoided Molly the mastiff, and came on home. He sat and stayed on command as I pulled about a dozen burrs from the outside of his ear, and I praised him, gave him a piece of Stella and Chewy treat. He was a happy dog - even happier now that he's tucked in with a bull pizzle (look it up).

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you definitely get the gold star for patience and determination! I really think that as the steady flow of new surprises and encounters begins to slow, and raccoons and cats become ordinary things in Pepper's world, he will calm down. Of course the obedience is key, you are doing everything right!