'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Friday, 18 February 2011

(Late) Gotcha Day.

Last Tuesday was Jessie's 'Gotcha Day.' Being as I was so swamped with university work, I didn't realise until the next day - so Jess got to celebrate her life with us on Wednesday with new antlers from Pure Dog (they are pricey but they last forever - and although I put an order in only on the Monday they arrived on the Wed), and with a nice long walk along the canal in the sun.

Of the two, Jess is by far the most trying. She has the typical Beagle reaction to being outside - unless I have a slab of raw meat, I no longer exist. Over the years, her recall has improved (when there are few distractions) and deteriorated (around other dogs). Her 'aggression' toward other dogs has increased; though I am loathe to call her aggressive (as once she knows a dog, she is very fair and tolerant - and she is fantastic with puppies). She doesn't have a huge prey drive, but one of the conditions for her adoption was that she could NOT be rehomed with cats. And I have seen why; she has thankfully never caught a cat, but given her reaction I know exactly what she would do. Even now, having been with us for seven years, she reacts to the word 'cats' with an intense alertness she never otherwise shows.

Despite all this, my old girl has taught me a lot about patience and self control. By nature, I am easily stressed out; I'm a nervous person, often. And Jess knows just how to annoy; blowing off her recall, air snapping at other dogs, pretending she doesn't want the toilet and standing there staring at you until you push her out the door - to which she responds by going to the toilet.

She is a stubborn, people oriented dog who I would trust with a child. She loves people; in the summer, her favourite game is to run ahead of me and leap up onto an occupied bench to elicit attention. If it wasn't for her selectivity with dogs, she'd be fantastic - I can deal with her ignorance around the house. And in retrospect, I probably wouldn't have chosen her if I knew now what I hadn't then; as an eleven year old, I was ill equipped to deal with her.

But, of course, I'm glad now I have her. She might have the worst smelling feet in history, she might forget to listen to us and she might lunge at other dogs, but she's mine, the bad and the good. She's now eleven years old and, although she's healthy, I do see signs of her age. I just hope I have more time with her - more fun and annoyances to come.

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